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Should College Athletes Be Paid? - Essay Example

As the end of high school approaches, some student-athletes have the option to play a sport in college. One question they may ask themselves would be, “Is it worth it to play a sport in college?”, considering all the time put into the sport while having to maintain good grades. You must be a very hard-working person to be a college athlete as it is basically a full-time job jumping between the classroom, field/court, weight room, and watching film. Imagine you are a college athlete; your daily routine would consist of waking up early most days for practice. After the morning practice, you attend classes towards earning your college degree. Then, since you frequently miss class and are struggling to keep your grades up, you have a tutoring session. Lastly, to finish your day off, you have more practice which will likely end late. Athletes have to follow this routine the whole school year. This routine does not include any extra-curricular or social activities. With all the athletes’ time going towards their sports and studies, they lack time to work a job to have extra spending money. There are several reasons supporting why college athletes should be paid. One is the athletes do not have enough time to hold a steady job because they are constantly practicing or playing the sport, they are involved in.

Education is expensive, and many sportsmen are not given scholarships to help pay for tuition, room and board, or books. This can lead to an increasing amount of debt because they must borrow money to pay for education. Many people believe athletes should get paid for their hard work, while others believe that it would ruin the integrity of college sports if athletes were paid. When the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) was founded by President Roosevelt in 1906, there was a commitment that a salary would not be provided to the student-athletes who took part in its athletic organization. This was based on the idea that college sportsmen should be considered amateurs, not professionals. In contrast, today’s lucrative television contracts have become the driving revenue force behind an institution’s ability to thrive in college athletics. Recently, for example, numerous universities have changed their athletic conference affiliation because of increased financial incentives.

According to Businessinsider.com, college athletes spend over 30 hours on average a week just in practice while some reported they spent over 40 hours (1). But college athletes are not required to simply play sports 40 hours a week. Their schedule also includes a full-time college schedule that they must maintain if they want to stay in the school and continue playing college sports. For example, “if a student has 10 hours of class each week and puts in the recommended four hours of study for each hour of class, then athletes spend 50 hours each week studying and attending mandatory classes and study halls. This means that college athletes have to work 90 hours per week just to remain in school on their scholarship. This is the equivalent to working two full-time jobs with a side job on the weekends just to pay their bills” (Anderson 1).

The debate about whether college athletes should be paid is not a new concept. Some people believe that a scholarship should be payment enough. After all, a scholarship can be easily worth $25,000 or more per year, plus a career after college that can be worth a million dollars over a lifetime. Additionally, student-athletes receive all kinds of perks while they are in college, like staying at fancy hotels, being seen on national tv, and all the notoriety that goes with being a star athlete. It is hard to put a price tag on all of that. But if you really take a look at the facts about scholarships, you might change your mind. Only about one out of every three student-athletes receive a scholarship. Most who receive scholarships find that they only pay for part of the expenses. With all the time and energy, they put into sports: “college athletes should be considered employees rather than students because their first duty is to play sports for the university, ahead of obtaining an education” (Zepel and Staudohaur 1). After all, although the NCAA claims college athletes are just students, the NCAA's own tournament schedules require college athletes to miss classes for nationally televised games that bring in revenue.

A college coaches’ job is to recruit players who they think have the talent to make them win. Many times, they persuade them to come to their school by offering them scholarships. The whole idea behind a scholarship is to lure the athlete into coming being a student and athlete at their college. Scholarships are nothing more than a recruitment tactic. Indeed, many times these scholarships pay for tuition, room and board, and books, but these athletes don’t have money for other necessities. When providing a service, people normally get paid for the service, so college athletes should be paid for performing a service with their athletic abilities. They offer entertainment to millions of fans each year. Almost anyone who is involved with sports, whether it be watching them or playing them, has an opinion on whether college athletes should be paid. College sports make billions of dollars, so there is room for athletes to be paid in some way.

The financial outlook for the NCAA is completely different than it was even 10 years ago. The NCAA basketball tournament generated $9 million per year in 1981, $215 million per year in 1997 and generates approximately $750 million per year now. Without the athletes, this revenue would not be possible, yet they are still unpaid. Even if scholarships would be considered pay, student-athletes are underpaid in proportion to what they generate for the college. For example, “in professional football and basketball, for example, players are paid approximately one-half of the revenues generated” (Should College Athletes Be Paid? 10). By no means should college athletes be paid as much as professional athletes, but they deserve a little incentive for all their hard work in their respective sport and in the classroom. Furthermore, “the NCAA currently produces nearly $11 Billion in annual revenue from college sports -- more than the estimated total league revenues of both the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League” (Edelman 1). It does not seem rational that the NCAA, the colleges in the NCAA, and some coaches of the athletic program make a substantial amount of money, but the athletes do not see any of this money. In support of this look at the following statistics according Edelman, “ last year, the average salary for a BCS eligible football coach was $2.05 million, the average salary for a premier NCAA Division I men's basketball coach also exceeded $1 Million, and in 40 of the 50 U.S. states, the highest paid public official is currently the head coach of a state university’s football or men’s basketball team” (1). Athletes arguably do the most work out of any of these groups and are who draw in the fans, so it does not make sense that they do not receive any of the profit made from college athletics.

College athletics is a billion- dollar industry and has been for a long time. Due to the increased ratings of college athletics, this figure will continue to rise. The athletes being recruited for college sports are bigger, faster and stronger than ever and will generate more money due to the number of fans who watch each week. College Universities generate so much revenue during the year that it is only fair to the players to receive part of that as compensation. College athletes should get paid based on the university’s revenue from the sport and apparel sales. It is very difficult to put a numeric value on exactly how much an athlete is worth to a college. A star quarterback will not only help sell tickets but will bring in plenty of merchandise sales as well. The NCCA prohibits the universities to sell a college football jersey with a player's name on it, but they can sell the jersey with the player's number on it, which is easily recognizable in local, and sometimes national markets. While the university can capitalize on the notoriety of its players; the players are not allowed to do this themselves. NCAA rules state that student-athletes are not allowed to use their college athletic abilities for promotional purposes or monetary gain. As stated by Anderson “this means that a well-known athlete cannot charge money for the hours spent signing autographs, but the university is able to use the athlete to generate hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars through sales and increased enrollment” (Anderson 1). Also, important to note: “in a 1989 survey of professional football players, 31 percent of the respondents admitted to having accepted illegal payments during their college careers, and 48 percent of the respondents said they knew of other athletes who took such payments during college” (Porto 41). College athletes most likely would not feel the need to break the rules if they received compensation that assisted them to pay their bills.

With these factors in mind, Division I football, and men’s basketball players do not merely play a sport of leisure. Rather, they are core members of their university’s marketing team, as well as the labor force behind a lucrative secondary industry in hosting organized sporting events. It’s also important to note that college student-athletes are not only a part of a sports team; they are a part of the college or university’s advertising team. Success in college sports is also believed to improve the application rates and caliber of admitted students at certain universities. For example, consider: “the “Flutie effect” is used to describe a surge in college admission following big sports wins. It’s named for Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie; he won the Heisman Trophy in 1984, and the College’s admissions rose significantly in subsequent years—though the extent of Flutie’s impact has been largely refuted by BC officials since then”(Martinez 1). Still, colleges and universities use their athletic success to promote their school and entice potential applicants. Student-athletes would be paid for this and all the additional benefits they provide for their schools.

Lastly, a small salary would also teach student-athletes how to save. Think about the advantage, “saving is an incredibly important skill that many young people don’t take part in either because they do not earn enough money to create a savings account or because they do not understand the importance of saving” (Anderson 1). Life skills are an important aspect of college and playing sports, why not use their athletic abilities to help them succeed further in these skills.

In conclusion, almost anyone who is involved with sports, whether it be watching them or playing them, has an opinion on whether college athletes should be paid. Based on how the NCAA has evolved over time and the amount of income they generate, college athletes should get paid for the time that they put into their respective sports. The time that they dedicate to their sport is equivalent to the time someone puts into a full-time job, if not more. Only one- third of college athletes receive a scholarship, the majority of those are partial, and only one percent of all college athletes make it to the pros. Since most college athletes do not receive a full ride and do not go pro, colleges should pay the athlete as if their sport was their job to help them pay off college and other expenses.

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