An Opposition to Paying Student Athletes

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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Intercollegiate athletics have grown popular among Americans over the last few decades. It has caused an increase in revenue for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Despite the rise of revenue, the NCAA prohibits athletes playing sports on the collegiate level from receiving any compensation from sports agents, merchandizers, advertisements, agencies and other non-school affiliated organizations. College athletes are also not allowed to receive compensation for autographs, media or endorsing products. According to the NCAA, if players or schools do not adhere by those rules, they will be punished with fines, suspensions and maybe even forced to forfeit a game.

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Colleges apart of the National Collegiate Athletic Association have raised discussion regarding athletes being compensated outside of their athletic scholarships. With research, I will explore how paying college athletes compromises their amateur statuses and the integrity of intercollegiate sports, as well as understand how obtaining a college education as an athlete is compensation enough for the expected commitment of the college athlete. Despite the time and effort athletes put forth, they do not need to be further compensated for playing intercollegiate sports.


College athletes devote a huge portion of their time to mastering their sport. They study plays, train and practice about 45 hours a week, which is more than a full-time job. In addition to preparing for 45 hours, athletes are still required to meet academic requirements, which means devoting weekly time for studying and homework. Athletes spend approximately 40 hours taking classes, doing school work and preparing for their courses. (QUOTE) Trying to maintain a grade point average to remain eligible, while handling the stresses of playing a sport can be a challenge. Their busy schedules prohibit athletes from being a part of extracurricular activities, which takes away from their college experience. It is also very difficult to work a part-time job because of the time commitment for sports and academics. Athletes are working and studying the same amount of hours as full-time employees, yet do not have time to make any money, therefore, athletes deserved to be financially compensated.

The time commitment for athletes not only affects their schedules but it interferes with their education. Athletes miss a lot of class due to traveling. They spend a large amount of time studying and doing work on the bus. If athletes miss classes to travel, they would ultimately fail their classes and lose their scholarships. “PROFESSORS WILL DROP A SUTDENTS GRADE BY A LETTER EVERY TIME THEY MISSED CLASS”. Losing a scholarship could potentially an athlete foregoing their education. To prevent college athletes from losing scholarships, they take courses that are aligned with their schedules versus taking courses aligned with their major. “Athletes don’t have free choice of what major they take if the class conflicts with practices or game schedules, they cannot take it or just miss the majority of classes” Amy McCormick (Cooper). The disadvantage for the athlete is after those four years of matriculation, they typically leave without a degree. Some might argue that if athletes were paid, they would be focused more on school and the sport too much to worry about losing their scholarship.

Another reason athletes should be paid is because they put their bodies at mental and physical risk. Concussions are half a sports related injuries and they lead to depression, balance problems and brain damage. Some other injuries include torn ligaments such as the MCL and ACL, which are leg injuries. Torn ligaments and concussions are all injuries that are likely to reoccur and they can affect the future physical and mental health of the athletes. Not to mention, injuries athletes encounter can force them to stop playing their sport, lose their scholarship and again, forfeit their education. Their injuries can alter their health and affect their future employment opportunities. Injured athletes have medical bills and they do not have benefits and often times do not receive aid. An athlete could play for a team, injure themselves, lose their scholarship and the chance at an education and jeopardize their future. If athletes were paid, they could utilize the funds they receive towards medical bills and personal funds if they get injured. (QUOTE)

Everyone benefits from the athletes but the athlete. Any time an athlete signs to a team, the coach gets paid. For every player that obtains a high grade point average, the coach gets a bonus. The National Collegiate Athletic Association profits off the athlete by the video games they make utilizing college athletes, name, jersey and appearance. They sell athlete’s autographs and their jerseys. The Association makes money off the tournaments and the media coverage associated with the tournaments. “771 MILLION QUOTE” . The NCAA makes money off the athletes, the coaches and universities make money off the athlete but as soon as the athlete tries to make money off themselves, they find themselves facing repercussions. “THE ISSUE IS EVERYONE IS MAKING MONEY OFF THE ATHLETE BUT THE ATHLETE”. (SOMEBODY).

Athletes have a cap on the amount of hours and funds they are allowed to work and receive and there are additional regulations they have to abide by. Athletes are allowed to work part time jobs, however, they must receive approval from the NCAA and the university and they are not to have an income exceeding $_____________. Another way athletes can earn income is by offering fee-for-lessons and sports camps where the athletes would instruct individuals in the sports o their expertise. However, the NCAA prohibits the athlete from utilizing their name, picture or appearance to promote the services they offer, which makes it difficult to build a clientele. The NCAA allows athletes to work during off seasons, but they provide policies for the income they receive. If athletes were paid, athletes could afford to pay for leisure activities that help them wind down from a stressful day or week. Athletes cannot get well-paying jobs or additional scholarship funds and their scholarships only cover tuition, room, board and books. Athletes have personal expenses as well as other needs that are not directly paid to the college. Therefore, they need a source of income.

Research concludes college athletes work as much as full-time employees and should be paid as such. The athletes negotiate their time, effort and energy for an education that is often time poorly valued. Athletes sacrifice their physical and mental health and forfeit their college experiences by not joining student organizations. Paying college athletes would relieve athletes of their stresses and allot them more time to focus on their craft and education.

On the contrary, despite the hardships college athlete endure, some research finds financially compensating college athletes detrimental to both the athlete and the Association.

Athletes who play for schools where athletics are in high demand Division III are given athletic scholarships that cover athletes’ tuition, room and board and books. Athletes are being afforded the opportunity of an education in exchange for playing a sport for the institution. “DUKE PLAYER QUOTE”. (Cooper). College athletes are not employees, therefore, they should not receive further compensation. They should take advantage of the opportunity for an education.

Some research argues that paying athletes would relieve stress but paying athletes will just increase their stress levels. Instead of worrying about how to afford and item, the stress will then become what to spend the money on. Getting paid will only pressure athletes to play better and as “employees” of the institution, athletes would have to trade in some minimal protections, adding to their stress. The system is already unfair and paying college athletes would just entrench that exploitation. Financially compensating college athletes will not make their lives substantially better.

In order to pay athletes for playing sports in college, the NCAA would have to pay all athletes, both women’s and men’s sports, as well as sports that do not produce as revenue as others. Meaning, sports that do not bring in any revenue, would be benefitting from the revenue brought in by the other sports and players. If not, it creates more lawsuits and issues for the institution and the Association.

Paying student athletes raises issues of separation amongst students and athletes. Schools, especially, Division III, are already separated by athletes and students. The division will then be between paid students and unpaid students. Moreover, paying students mean taxing their scholarships and their salaries, meaning less of the money is actually going towards their school balance. If athletes were paid like employees, the universities would have to pay workers compensation premiums for every individual player. Receiving free tuition, room and board, and book scholarship and a salary sounds ideal. However, what will an athlete look forward to when they graduate? Why would they want to go professional when they have already been reaping the benefits of playing sports professionally? It would eliminate the line between amateurism and professional sports. College is supposed to be where students get experience to prepare them for the professional world. Internships are opportunities for students to gain firsthand knowledge and experiences to prepare them for life after college. Besides, the NBA’s one-and-done rule stating basketball players must complete a season before getting drafted. Basketball players would be getting paid at the college level and would not leave college to be drafted, which might be a positive outcome. However, that would take money away from the National Basketball Association (NBA), which would raise uproar, too.

The most revenue producing sports are football and basketball, which has its share of both African American and Caucasian players. African Americans athletes play a role in the decision not to pay college athletes. “Racial resentment toward African Americans is a very strong predictor of opposition to paying student athletes” (Demby et al Guiterrez, 2018). Paying athletes would give them the opportunity to form unions and that gives players including African American players, a chance to gain power. Therefore, they would rather not pay athletes and continue to make money off of them.

Contrary to popular opinion, all revenue is not spent on coaches and the NCAA. The revenue from sports is used for tuition, visiting teams, recruiting, team travel, games and marketing. Some revenue also covers uniforms, stadiums, tournaments and of various experiences athletes engage in. Not paying athletes boils down to there being no fair way to pay athletes. All athletes would have to be paid the same, because if not, athletes would choose schools that were paying them more over the school providing the best education. The way athletes maintain their position on the team to keep their scholarship, would be the same thing athletes would do for their income. This system of paying athletes prioritizes being an athlete before a student.

Paying athletes would be a burden to smaller schools, tax payers and students of tax payers. Public institutions are already utilizing taxpayer money for tournaments, conferences and games so to pay athletes, taxpayers would have to agree to provide monetary support. Private institutions would have to raise their tuition to afford athlete salaries. Increased tuitions for athletic salaries would most likely lead to a decline of admissions because of the cost of attendance. Schools that do not provide large salaries for their athletes will lose potential athletes to other institution, disadvantaging that institution.


In conclusion, college is where students go for their fieldwork. Paying workers compensation premiums and player salaries would talk away from the funding from other areas. Not only would paying college athletes be time consuming, but it would not relieve athletes stress or make officials’ jobs easier. Athletes are students first and they knew what they were signing up for when they chose to join a team in the NCAA. They cannot play for the NCAA if they are not athletes, which is the most important predictor of this controversy. As a former work study student, I worked 20 hours a week at 8.25 an hour. My checks were never in the thousands but it was substantial for my personal expenses. Students should not be making what employees make because they are students, not employees. If athletes spend 45 hours training. And 40 hours studying, that leaves about 83 hours to themselves, which is almost as much time as they devote to schoolwork and sports. Forty hours of studying should mean good grades, no scholarship losses and higher graduation rates. However, being an athlete has precedence over being a student. A solution to the problem could be offering athletes courses for their major during their off seasons so they do not have to take summer courses. The NCAA could provide financial assistance to injured players to relieve to stress of medical bills. The NCAA could even relieve athletes of their required training and practice time and allot “mental health” days. There are many solutions to compensate athletes that are not financial and thank athletes for bringing in revenue for the NCAA.

We provide them with remarkable opportunities to get an education at the finest universities on earth that’s American universities and colleges to gain access to the best coaches and the best trainers, to develop their skills and abilities, so if they have the potential, that small proportion, to go on and play in professional sports, we’re helping them develop those skills, and they can go do it.

And in our case, what amateurism really means, again, is this preprofessional notion that these young men and women are students; they’ve come to our institutions to gain an education and to develop their skills as an athlete and to compete at the very highest level they’re capable of. And for them, that’s a very attractive proposition.

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An opposition to paying student athletes. (2019, Mar 05). Retrieved from