Compensation of College Athletes

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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The grand debate of whether to pay college athletes or not is ongoing; however, there are so many amenities that are provided to college athletes that they are paid through those. The whole debate can hinge on one thing and that is amateurism; people should not receive any material award when participating in a sport. Many don’t understand the commitment and passion required when becoming a college athlete. They can succumb to the narcissistic personality disorder, which could lead to the potential end of their athletic career.

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The revised history of amateurism dates back to the late 19th century and to the 20th century and it started with the 57th inaugural induction of former President Barack Obama garnering 20 million views, 4 months later Louisville defeated Michigan in the national championship with 3 million more views than the inauguration (Robert Lemons 1). This suggests that a country is willing to watch a championship game of men’s college basketball rather than the words of their leader. So the stage was then set for the debate of payment for college athletes.

Professional athletes pay raises have increased 5%; meanwhile, collegiate athletes have received no change but more and more views (Gaines 2). Many argue that college sports are more fun to watch for the sole purpose of the athletes not being compensated or that they try harder to become a professional and be compensated for their hard work. Many find the topic of amateurism to be tedious which cause them to be disinterested in the entire topic of athletes being paid.

The more popular sports, football, and basketball players get paid, lacrosse, girls volleyball, and the swim team get nothing. That’s called capitalism. In life we make choices, we choose what classes to take what major to pursue what people we hang out with and what activities we partake in. Not everything is equal and not everything is fair, some may excel in other topics more than others. An example would be… the most prevalent professor at Alabama won’t make $5.9 million in his entire tenure, Nick Saban (Alabama’s football head coach) will make that in a year.

The entire debate has risen to a national concern causing big-time ESPN host Michael Wilbon to voice his concerns. Wilbon and many believe that tuition, room, board, and books were compensation enough. Majority of people don’t understand the commitment of playing a college sport whether it be the swim team or the men’s basketball team. Collegiate sports differ from high school sports. Most don’t understand that in college sports a season is yearly compared to the 3-5 months that they are in high school. College sports is an annual commitment. The notion of pay-for-play at best is a logistical nightmare. Where exactly would the money come from? How does one pay college football players the same amount as the swim team or the women’s volleyball teams? An answer to these broad questions can lead to an $11 billion deal between the NCAA and CBS Sports. What if the universities would take a generous $1.3 billion off and use it to compensate the athletes (Wilbon 1). One it could help with motivation for the athletes to do well in their activity. The question arises again how do the Universities compensate athletes the same. For example take into consideration Andrew Luck, previous Stanford quarterback and face of the university. How is it fair that he should get paid more than Matt Anderson; captain of the swim team. Not only do athletes have to be willing to abide by the rules of capitalism, but they have to understand that the activities are the main source of revenue for the University. The Universities are the ones that go out and gets these athletes to come to the school and be committed to their programs and are willing to give their time and effort to make themselves and the University successful.

In college sports, two types of passion can be found, Harmonious and Obsessive. Passion can be defined as an inclination towards a self-defining activity. Passion can be expressed with coaches, referees, and fans as well as the outcome that they come to experience all because of these exceptional athletes. Majority of the time in college athletics we experience Harmonious passion. Harmonious passion occurs when we accept the activity candidly. We strive to find our passion and expand on the activity (Jacobs 3).; furthermore, increasing our will and drive in becoming the best and motivating the athletes on becoming the best and competing to becoming a professional or getting compensated for their play at a university(Wilbon 2).

The NCAA observes every transaction that happens at the University regardless of the sport. The NCAA’s large portion of its revenue comes from the Men’s basketball tournament (March Madness). The most recent tournament raked in over 1 billion dollars (Cockrell 2). The NCAA mandates that collegiate athletes must compete without salary to help maintain their amateur status, many believe that if compensation is actually achieved it will change their status from amateur to professional which means that the importance of commitment in each activity for the athletes can change their pursuit of professionalism (Lemons 1). NCAA is aware of the improbability of an athlete becoming a professional.

Maintaining Amateurism is crucial to preserving an athlete’s academic enjoyment. Many universities hope that Amateurism does not become obsolete in light of changed circumstances, such as the amount of profit each athletic program makes which can alter the revenue for the University, most commonly affecting the revenue negatively. (Institutes of Sports Law and Ethics 5) . The NCAA is fighting amateurism based on how much each department makes and how every athlete is being compensated. The question for the Universities is that: do the NCAA’s rules of restricting an athletes compensation affect how the athletes perform on the field/court and in the classroom. A study was Constructed to find out what schools think of the compensation of athletes. A resounding 92 percent agreed that Division 1 universities coordinate the payment of athletes, majority football and basketball players. The other 8 percent had no opinions about the athletic programs and their compensation (Lemons 2). Simply put amateurism means that athletes should play in sports for a hobby rather than compensation. Which begs the question for why the majority of professional athletes are being found protesting because their pay isn’t enough. The example that the professionals set is not the example that we want out in the public. Most likely the NCAA is trying to preserve the modesty of college athletes and shows that hard work figuratively pays off.

It is reasonable to assume that cultural trends have helped influence college athletics. The capitalist movement took over, the rush for wealth and power swept the nation and made its way into the universities. Athletes no longer played for the sake of a hobby but they played for the sake of a better life. Many college athletes developed a severe disorder one that was untreatable. Like many personality disorders, narcissism engulfed those how were seen in big moments. Narcissism often displays an overall inability to display/feel empathy and a complete lack of regard for others which cause them to feel that they should be compensated for the time, effort and commitment they give their athletic program (Elman 1). College athletes see that the professionals displaying these traits and view them as the norm of how to act in the spotlight.

In conclusion, if the NCAA does decide to pay their student-athletes Salary cuts will have to take place of those who are in charge of the organization. They could give college athletes money for each quarter that they partake in their particular sport. Many believe that college athletes should be paid because they work so hard but sustain severe injuries instead of getting compensated for their efforts. Concussions have the effect of being career ending, or even life-threatening. Other injuries that occur like knee injuries which can take months for the athlete to be able to play again. After those months of nursing the injury are over, the sport that they are most likely participating in can be nearing the end of the season. Professional Athletes train hard every day much like student-athletes; however, pros don’t go to class every day and have to get all the work done for their classes. Like many, the majority of college kids will never get the chance of being a professional and getting paid to play a sport. So in college, they have to have a plan B and that plan B is getting a major which requires as much attention as being in a college sport. College Athletes have no time in being involved in any other activity other than the sport they participate in. The NCAA makes money off of each student-athlete while they receive no compensation.

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Compensation of college athletes. (2020, Jan 30). Retrieved from