Why College Athletes should be Paid (treated as Employees)

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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(Show News Headlines: Injury, Athletes career over) Stanley Doughty, of the South Carolina Gamecocks, was considered one of the top defensive linemen to ever play in college football. That is, before he suffered a career ending spinal injury in his final season. After a helmet to helmet collision in a 2004 practice game, the SC training staff told him he had just suffered a “stinger” (which is defined by Fox Sports as “a neurological injury caused by heavy contact resulting in a pinched nerve)….

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but the school pushed Doughty to play on until he wasn’t able to walk resulting in temporary paralysis and long term spinal cord damage. This is the level of commitment that these student athletes have. He was so dedicated to his team, his coaches, and his college that he paid a great price to honor his commitment to his school. One would hope that his school would be as dedicated to him. These athletes are working at the level of employees for their school and should be compensated at that level. This was recently brought to the forefront of conversation when the National Labor Relations Board in Chicago ruled that football players at Northwestern University are employees and can unionize, as stated by CNN in 2014. Through this speech I am going to address why college athletes are not being fairly compensated because they are acting at the level of employees. This can be seen through the hours they put in for the school, how the school uses athletes’ images to bolster ratings, programs, and undergraduate enrollment, and how athletes are sacrificing their bodies for the sake of the school.

Transition: First, I am going to discuss how the hours that the athletes put in for the college are like that of an employee.


The training athletes are doing is rigorous and time-consuming allowing for less time to focus on academics, having a job, and other activities.

College athletes work similar hours to a full-time employee, if not more.

Forbes magazine states that the typical devoted athlete is involved in their sport an average of 43.3 hours a week. This is 3 hours longer than a full time job and possibly more depending on the length of competitions, races, or games.

The athletes will also be required to attend a study hall for a set number of hours per week and pass a minimum of 12 credits a semester to remained enrolled in school and participate in their sport. This, however, puts them behind pace to graduate in four years. Those students must pass a minimum of 15 credits a semester. (picture of the math of all the hours).

B. Many of these students are not receiving full scholarships.

The average scholarship according to is $10,800 a year. If the average tuition is $23,443 a year, then the students are accumulating over $50,000 of debt in 4 years. When they’re already carrying a “full-time” job, how to they have time to avoid amassing a substantial amount of debt.

Furthermore, Michigan State Law professors, Robert and Amy McCormick, state scholarships have been changed from a 4-year promise of a certain amount to only a 1 year promise that can be taken away at any time. This means that if a school decides to remove a scholarship from an athlete with a low-income background the student is then forced to pay for everything or the student will drop out and have to find an alternate plan of action.

Transition: Now that we see the amount of hours athletes devote to their schools as if they were employed, I will discuss how colleges utilize well-known athletes as employees in order to advertise the college and attract new students to attend or who want to attend the school and thus increases their funding.

II. College marketing systems often use their more popular and successful athletes in magazines, quotes, jerseys, etc.

The public attention to college stars is growing and so is the college attendance rates of the schools, where these athletes reside.

Thanks to televised games and social media many high caliber athletes such as the basketball great Patrick Ewing and All Star Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts, gain fame and thus have increased undergrad attendance all the way up to 47% more.

Although the NCAA and affiliated divisions claim college athletes are just students, they require the athletes to interview with television networks and reporters for the benefit of the organization.

B. Currently it is illegal for college athletes to make a profit on their name under NCAA guidelines, however they are able to market the players and are paid very well for it. (Karaim)

The NCAA alone currently takes in $11 billion in revenue yearly from games, jerseys/souvenirs, sponsorships, etc. This more than the (professional leagues) NBA and NHL combined. (Forbes)

Transition: With the knowledge of college branding tactics and how the athletes are presented as mighty employee figureheads, it is important to also look towards the dangers of being a high level athlete.

III. Because the NCAA is increasing the caliber of better, stronger, and faster athletes in order to meet a near professional standard, injuries are becoming more severe and frequent.

At this high level of near professional participation it would be reasonable to provide them with professional compensation should they get injured, something along the lines of workers compensation much like we have here in California.

Doughty had just signed a $400,000 contract with the Kansas City Chiefs and was 12 credits shy of a degree prior to his injury.

The NCAA only pays for injuries to collegiate players that exceed $90,000. Any injury that fails to meet this goal a pay-out-of-pocket policy comes into play, making the athlete pay to have their own surgery or, replacement. (Jost)

Transition: Now that we understand what qualifies collegiate athletes to be considered employees of the school and compensated for their contributions, I will give a stronger solution to the problem at hand.


In closing, I have thoroughly discussed how college athletes are treated as employees by the number of hours they contribute to the school, their usage as a school advertising tool, and the sacrifice of their bodies for the sake of their team, coach, and their school. By understanding, how athletes are treated as high-caliber employees, we can realize that fair compensation is fair payment. In order to change the NCAA standard of no pay, the collegiate athletes should be paid through a larger if not full scholarship based of the way they work and perform, just like employees. To push for these reforms you can contact the NCAA by email/customer service or the college of your interest. Another way for progressive changes to be made is through an increase in stances against unethical or unfair policies to these athletes. Athletes like Stanley Doughty are in desperate conditions and should be fairly compensated with pay and given fair benefits for their employed talents in order to benefit the schools, the sports, and protects the individual athlete for a brighter future for these talented elite young men and women.

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Why College Athletes Should Be Paid (treated as employees). (2019, Aug 09). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/why-college-athletes-should-be-paid-treated-as-employees/