Why College Athletes Should Be Paid
$53.4 Million the combined salary of the top 15 paid coaches in division 1 college football, $0 the combined salary of all student-athletes. Over the past few decades, college athletics have gained popularity across the United States. Whether it is football, basketball, or baseball, ever since the turn of the century, intercollegiate sports have brought in a surplus of revenue to their respective Universities. A recent study found that the University of Texas’ Athletic Program had the highest revenue of any other University at a little over $120 million. Yet with this large sum of money, NO college athletes are legally compensated for their work. According to NCAA rules, “You are not eligible for participation in a sport if you have ever: Taken pay or the promise of pay, for competing in that sport”.
While it may seem odd and unjust to pay college athletes, the reality is that compensation of such athletes is a necessity not only to keep competition at a steady level in college athletics, but also to encourage students to graduate and get their college degrees. Student athletes should be compensated for their work, as they are the sole reason for the Athletic Program’s surplus in revenue. These athletes are working for the schools and are doing a service to the college that seems to go unnoticed. Colleges are using these athletes to boost their respective reputations and bring in revenue while not compensating these athletes for their work.
Everywhere else athletes are paid, so why shouldn’t college students too? Some critics may argue that these student-athletes are amateurs, and if paid then are becoming professional athletes. The minor league for baseball could be considered an amateur sport, although they do receive pay according to the team’s revenue. Also, with all the time practicing and working in the classroom, how many athletes have time to actually get a job? Another argument that supports paying college athletes is that these “full-ride” scholarships given to the best athletes do not actually cover all their expenses. Many athletes still can’t afford to have their parents come to the stadium and watch the games. With all of the respect and publicity of these athletes, it goes unnoticed that a great deal of the players live very near to the poverty line. Due to this lack of money, black-markets are created. Here, boosters that represent the University give these players’ cars, spending money, or anything they truly want, and in return, these players go to their respective University.
There have been many instances of this before, one prominent example is that of Reggie Bush, the running back for the University of Southern California from 2003-2005. Bush was paid by boosters to attend USC, which violated NCAA rules. Bush’s mother was having trouble paying rent for her apartment at the time in Pasadena. Bush felt obligated to take this offer, as there was no other way to make money and pay for his mother’s home. These boosters’ actions are not only are illegal, but create unfairness in competition amongst the NCAA. These universities that violate NCAA rules have an upper edge in recruiting top prospects. Schools are then tempted to violate such rules to even out the playing field.
The last and arguably the most important reason to pay college athletes, is that it will ensure that most student-athletes will complete their college degrees. “Paying student-athletes would provide an incentive to stay in school and complete their degree programs, instead of leaving early for the professional leagues” Which brings me back to the question, “Should college athletes get paid?” If athletes are paid to play, not only can they cover some of their college expenses that scholarships couldn’t, but also now they will want to finish their education. NCAA prides itself on all student-athletes are students first and athletes second, however, it seems that more popular athletes leave early for the pros.
In college basketball, many freshman stars are referred to as “one and done” players as they complete one year of college and go to the professional leagues early, as they want money and need it as soon as possible. The importance of their education is lost. The University seems to be hypocritical in its actions when it doesn’t pay its athletes, because it seems they support college athletes leaving for the Professional league early. One author suggests that every university pays the same flat rate to each college athlete for three years, and then offer a raise to senior athletes. This bonus will create that incentive for students to receive their degrees.
While it may seem odd and unjust to pay college athletes, the reality is that compensation of such athletes is a necessity not only to keep competition at a steady level in college athletics, but also to encourage students to graduate and get their college degrees. The truth of the matter is that many college athletes are already being paid under the table which creates a black-market that is not only illegal, but is also unfair to universities that abide by NCAA regulations. Universities are exploiting these students and allowing them not to receive any revenue that they clearly earned. College Athletes Should Be Paid!
Team sports like soccer or basketball, as well as individual sports, are extremely popular worldwide. Famous sportsmen and sportswomen have statuses similar to Hollywood celebrities, and their wages are high. However, no matter how well they play, all of them have once been amateurs; in this perspective, high school or college athletes are not much different from professionals. At the same time, the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) prohibits college athletes to be monetarily compensated for their efforts, which is definitely unfair. College athletes should be paid their due for a number of reasons.
The NCAA should pay student athletes because it can do it. According to polls among economists, there are no financial factors that prevent the NCAA from paying their athletes. In particular, Rodney Fort, a sports economist and professor of sports management at the University of Michigan, believes that the NCAA already possesses enough money to do so. Moreover, arguments that additional labor costs would hurt sports programs at schools are groundless, says David Berri, a professor of economics at Southern Utah University. “They’re nonprofits, and their incentive is to spend every cent that comes in,” he says (Huffingtonpost.com).
Speaking of skills, by the way, the fact that an athlete is a college student does not automatically mean he or she is an amateur (unlike what the NCAA officially claims). For example, a typical first division college football player trains approximately 43.3 hours per week; for contrast, a typical American work week is only 40 hours. Besides, college athletes also need to dedicate time to studying; along with this, NCAA tournament rules require college students to skip classes in favor of nationally-televised games that bring in revenue (Forbes). No need to say that the revenue goes to the NCAA. Considering this, is it not obvious that college athletes should receive at least some compensation for their efforts?
Paying college athletes could also solve a significant problem of athletes quitting schools and colleges. It is not a secret that many of them make a decision to leave due to financial reasons; usually, they are allured by the perspective to start earning money with what they can do best (sports) outside of college. Indeed, what is the point for a prospective professional athlete to rush between sports and study for free if they can earn real money doing what they love, and without any obstacles? Paying college athletes could help keep many of them within their schools/colleges, and help them earn a degree (TheSportster).
The reasons why college athletes should be paid are significant. First of all, the NCAA has all the capabilities to pay their athletes—it accumulates tons of revenue annually, so supporting college athletes would not be a problem. Besides, despite that the NCAA officially recognizes college athletes as amateurs, in fact these “amateurs” train 43 hours a week on average, in addition to studying. And lastly, many college athletes prefer to start earning real money with their skills rather than rush between sports and study for free, and thus quit schools; paying them might help solve this problem.
Strachan, Maxwell. “NCAA Schools Can Absolutely Afford to Pay College Athletes, Economists Say.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 12 May 2015.
“21 Reasons Why Student-Athletes Are Employees and Should Be Allowed to Unionize.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, n.d. Web. 12 May 2015.
“Top 10 Reasons College Football Players Should Get Paid.” TheSportster. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 May 2015.
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