College Athletes should be Paid

College athletics is big business. Billions of dollars are often involved. To put this in perspective, CBS Sports and Turner are paying more than 1 billion a year to broadcast the NCAA tournaments up until 2023 as described by Jung (1). Much more is earned from endorsements, advertisements, and gate passes. It is a whole industry that calls in shots from big money in sports. As such, there is no doubt that college sports earn billions of dollars in revenues. How then do the same sports appreciate and incentivize players who put their efforts and time in the game? This paper will evaluate why colleges should pay their athletes. 

Gifted college athletes are put on scholarship and many argue that they should be content with the scholarship, as sufficient compensation for their talent. However, this argument is flawed. Ideally, college athletes often put in hard work and miss classes in the name of the game. The athletes are highly enthusiastic and they are always exposed to the possibilities of getting life-threatening or serious injuries as expressed by Karaim (1-2). Such injuries often end their careers. If the same happens, do the scholarships for such student’s end? Most probably their value to the college dwindles and they lose their scholarship. However, it should not end like this. These students need to have health insurance policies, which can only be paid by the individual. As such, they need to be paid a salary that will go into catering for different personal expenditures that will make their lives better. Their bodies are often put at risks to health conditions such as dementia, depression, CTE, and bone fractures among others. They need to have something to show for it. 

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Using an individual to make money without compensating them due to their inability or position to demand it is using that individual and taking advantage of them. Why should companies be branded by college athletes who never gain anything from their efforts? Such companies make money out of such branding and it can only be fair if they pay their brand ambassadors. To preserve the purity and integrity of such sports, college athletes need to be compensated substantially. 

Another reason why college students should be paid is based on the use of the income earned from college sports. Virtually, some of the money goes to scholarships, while most of it will go to coaches, athletic directors, and school administrators. Student athletes do not need overly huge salaries but will need a reasonable amount that should cover their daily expenses. It makes no sense to accord a student an athletic sponsorship and then have the student struggle for basic upkeep in college. Further, such a student can drown in debt taken to cover for living expenses since they cannot engage in gainful employment since they are always in the field exercising. 

College students from poor families will find it sufficiently hard to remain functional in school after engaging in highly charged sporting activities with no pay. Many assume that the life of college athletes is glamor but they are wrong. Such students remain holed up in their dormitories as they cannot afford to go out and engage in gainful employment as they are tired after daily practices (Sanderson and Siegfried 116). Being in the gym and in the field fulltime should come with some pay to help such students live a modest life on campus. It is depressing to have a college champion hear the whole stadium chant his name, have the college earn millions through advertisements and admissions, and in the evening have the student go back to his dorm room to count change to buy a burger.

A student on sports scholarship is often forbidden from taking up jobs during the school year, yet they are not paid. This begs the question, how do the school and other stakeholders expect such a student to get along with their studies with practically nothing in their pocket? These champions will obviously struggle with buying foods and other necessities despite having fame, a shelf full of books, and fully paid tuition. Those who oppose paying college athletes often argue that players get a lot in training, scholarships, and all these prepare them for when they become professional players. The question is what is the chance to turn professional after college and earn these benefits?

The other reason involves antitrust laws. NCAA and colleges earn billions of dollars using images during broadcasts. This is in violation of the U.S. antitrust laws, which prohibit the use of someone’s image to generate revenues without having them share in the profits of such an activity. For instance, in 2014, Ed O’Bannon won a lawsuit against NCAA for $44.4 million. The suit was based on the violation of the antitrust laws. As such, NCAA should be compensating college athletes to avoid violating the laws. 

Paying college athletes will have the following advantages. 

  1. It helps students support themselves in college, as well as, support their families. Majority of the student athletes come from urban low-class families and will otherwise drop from school due to lack of resources to keep them in school. Giving them the opportunity to support their families would ease pressure on such families. 
  2. When student athletes are paid, they may stay longer in school since they do not have to pursue other economic opportunities as explained by Johnson and Acquaviva (1). Graduation rates would, therefore, increase, while at the same time seeing college athletes transform into professional sportspeople. 
  3. When college athletes are compensated, they are able to develop restraint from corrupting external influences such as drugs and boosters, which go against the code of professional sportsmanship such as scandals, which tarnish their names and professions. In this case, it is necessary to compensate players to a level that would see them avoid such pitfalls. 
  4. Student athletes earn incredible amounts of money for their universities, and it would be appropriate to return the favor to the individuals who help such organizations earn such amounts of money. College sports are a huge business that attracts high revenues. 
  5. Paying college students is similar to compensating them for the struggle and risk they put themselves every time they get into the field (Weaver 20). Students need to be compensated for their sacrifices to help motivate them to move to the next level. Showing them that they can earn from a game they love is prudent and consistent with the needs that come with being a college student.
  6. Paying college students is important in creating financial awareness. Athletes even in professional levels find it hard to be financially responsible. Many of the professional players, for instance, in NBA, will experience financial challenges a few years after retirement. It means that there is a disconnect at some point in life. Allowing student athletes to earn some money will help them earn the discipline required to manage the windfall that comes with being a professional athlete. 

The following are the cons of paying college students

  1. College athletes receive scholarships and other benefits, which is not money charged on the student. As such, students are saved from taking student loans, which often weigh down on individuals after college. Considering this, college athletes find it financially easier than most students in school. As such, adding more money to their fortune might be awarding them more than they deserve. 
  2. Paying college athletes is diluting the purity of the game. People believe that college sport is more authentic and genuine since its players are fueled by passion and love for the sports. Paying the students introduces another incentive that would tamper with the original motivation of the game. 
  3. Paying student athletes commercializes the game. As such, colleges in a position not to pay might find it hard attracting talent. 
  4. Earning big sports money while in college might distract students from their studies, as well as, make them engage in lavish spending habits. College students might not be ready with the responsibility that comes with that kind of money. 

All the pros notwithstanding, college athletes deserve to be compensated over and above the scholarships that they receive. College sports have been demonstrated to be high net worth engagements that earn colleges billions of dollars in revenues. As such, denying college athletes a share of the profits to help them earn a decent life together with their parents is not only selfish but also unethical. Having an athlete lacking basics such as food after generating millions of dollars for the college is imprudent and unkind. 

Works Cited

Johnson, Dennis A., and Acquaviva, John. Point/Counterpoint: Paying College Athletes. Sports Journal, 2012, https://thesportjournal.org/article/pointcounterpoint-paying-college-athletes/. Accessed 12 Dec. 2018. 

Jung, Will. The Financial Implications of Paying College Athletes. Texas Christian University. Fort Worth, Texas, (2015). https://repository.tcu.edu/bitstream/handle/116099117/7359/Jung__Will_-_Senior_Honors_Thesis.pdf?sequence=1. Accessed 12 Dec. 2018.

Karaim, Reed. (2014). Paying College Athletes. CQ Researcher by CQ Press. CQ Press, 11.

Sanderson, Allen R., and Siegfried, John J. “The case for paying college athletes.” Journal of Economic Perspectives, vol. 29, no. 1, 2015, pp. 115-38.Weaver, Karen. “A game change: Paying for big-time college sports.” Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, vol. 43 no. 1, 2010, pp. 14-21.

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