Over the past decade there has been a major debate at the hands of the United States that is still undecided upon. Do NCAA Athletes deserve the right to be paid for their commercials, brand deals, and jersey sales? When it comes to the citizens of our current society the viewpoint is split evenly for the most part. In my opinion the athletes of major college teams that bring in millions, or even billions in some cases, for their schools deserve the right to be compensated for their polished skill set.
First, to take a look at one side of the debate. The argument that a lot of anti-paying supporters will present is that these athletes will lose their love for the game and only be chasing money. People are under this belief because they often will consider the National Football League (NFL) as an example. Many NFL players are only playing to be compensated and it shows in their enthusiasm in game. If a college player was to be compared to a professional player, the passion for the game is much more prevalent. This is displayed through college athlete’s willingness to give all they have every play, while professional athletes tend to only give a half-hearted effort. If college athletes were to be paid this would lead to them looking at bank statements in the place of stat sheets to decide their value in game.
A major argument to present from the anti-paying viewpoint is the fact that there is no fair way to pay these athletes. If schools were to try to pay the players based off their skillset compared to the average player of that position, there would be multiple backfires. First of which being would a five-star defensive lineman going to the University of Alabama be paid equally to a five-star quarterback is who also holds the task of being leading his team? Would a football player of the University of Alabama be paid the same amount as an athlete on the tennis team, which brings in significantly less revenue? Theoretically if these athletes were to be paid directly by the school’s athletic department, they would then be considered employees of the school. This would raise questions such as can they be cut for not performing equivalent to their pay grade, can they be fined for missing practices, and do labor laws apply to these students?
Another look is the fact that they are already receiving a free education, worth up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, and do not deserve a penny more than that. College athletes are only allowed twenty hours of team practice a week for twenty-one weeks total, this accumulates to a total of six-hundred and four hours through the entire year. This averages to eleven hours a week per year, a number that part time workers easily outnumber on average. The average wage received is between eight and ten dollars a week, working the six-hundred and four hours would only produce a profit of $4,832-$6,040. Student athletes receive a free education and housing, exceeding a value of $100,000 per year. This is significantly more valuable than what other college students are able to bring in, and yet they still desire more compensation?
Also, if athletes were able to be compensated they would no longer be looking at what schools coaching fits them best, what program they will be able to fit in best, what the campus and benefits of that school are like, or what education opportunities they would be able to take advantage of, instead they would be looking at what school would be able to fork up the most money and make that their first option. In Division one football, historically speaking, there are twenty or so teams that consistently remain in the top twenty-five rankings. These teams will repeatedly play on television, giving them the opportunity to seek sponsors much easier than small division one schools. Athletes will be much more attracted to a school that is able to distribute scholar ships at a higher rate because they bring in more profit via sponsors, jersey sales, and ticket sales. If college athletes were given the opportunity to be paid by schools that had the ability to do so, it would lead to an unfair advantage and eventually a throne of power allowing them to recruit for a team that would dominate the college division.
Lastly, the point could be presented is that these athletes are not mature enough to handle the amount of money that would be flooding in, and they would unquestionably make immature mistakes with it. College students can range in age from seventeen to up twenty-four years old. At this age, the chance of these athletes correctly saving money is much lower than them spending irresponsibly and facing debts later in life because of it. College students are known for being young, immature adults who have never experienced this kind of freedom before. If professional level players have track record of improperly managing their salaries by spending money on the wrong things such as nice cars, big houses, jewelry, clothes, and toys, why would we not expect the same of these young college students?
However, the other side of the spectrum has the opinion that these athletes do indeed have the right to some of the money they bring into these big programs. Last year during the March Madness college basketball tournament brought in $1.29 billion dollars in just advertisements. The NCAA created a revenue of $844 million dollars between ads and marketing rights alone. In some cases, college athletic departments are bringing in a total of up to $185,000,000 a year yet disagree with the idea of paying their athletes a fraction of it. These athletes bring in money to their schools in other a variety of forms such as ticket sales, jersey sales, and attending alumni fundraising events. Yet college athletes will reap zero of the income that they have helped produced.
The athletes are doing at least twelve credit hours each per semester, just like every other college student, on top of their forty hours a week sports schedule. The argument of college athletes are only allowed twenty team practice hours a week for twenty-one weeks per year is true. However, this does not put into account the extra hours spent in recovery, watching film, and weightlifting. In a NCAA study on time demands of student athletes, division one football players reported spending a mean time of forty-five hours a week among athletics on average. These hours spent are all in addition to the mean time spent doing academic activities, which averaged out to forty-two hours.
Another point is that these athletes are not all going to be able to make it to the professional level, and they will have nothing to show from all of their hard work. If they are to get injured, deemed unable to play, and end up having to transfer back home due to the loss of their scholarship. These athletes’ step onto their fields everyday risking their bodies for the entertainment of our population and gain nothing from it in some cases. The NCAA released an article stating that less than two percent of its college athletes will go on to be professional. These athletes are supposed to rely on their degree after their four years of eligibility to play sports. Often the grades of these athletes are seriously affected because of the amount of time they are required to dedicate to their sport in order to keep their scholarship. Due to this commitment the average athlete will not get to see their college education pay off and lead to a stable, well-paying job.
If paying collegiate athletes was legalized in all fifty states in the United States it would undoubtedly lead to an increased graduation rate. There have been several reported cases of athletes dropping out of school due to their families back home relying on them for financial support. Javedon Clowney, a University of South Carolina student, was a defensive end in Division one football, and quite decorated too. He was a College All-American as a sophomore, set a school record for quarterback sacks and tackles for a loss, and earned defensive player of the year in the Southeastern Conference. Clowney reported that he would have finished out his college degree if the college was able to pay him so that he could send money back home to his in-need family. This is an ongoing trend of athletes in similar positions and is unfortunate in the sense that if they are to be injured, they will have no degree to fall back on.
Being able to financially support oneself as a college athlete would also generate the proposal that more talented players would consider participating. Even though this is not as common of a case, there are still players who would love the opportunity to proceed to the next level after high school, but are unable to because they simply cannot afford simple necessities, such as food, hygiene products, and clothing, without having some source of income. In some cases, this can lead to these young athletes involving themselves with the wrong crowds and ending up in jail or dead.