This topic on paying collegiate athletes is a very touchy subject, and one that will have an endless debate forever and a day. I want to put out this disclaimer that I am writing this post strictly on my opinion of the subject, and my own experiences (though at the D2 level). In the past couple of months we have been bombarded with the news of the decade long scandal at Oklahoma State University and Johnny Manziel’s autograph fiasco. Though Manziel only had to sit out 30 minutes of a meaningless football game, the OSU situation has yet to be decided upon. It is time to speak about paying college athletes.
Why Shouldn’t Athletes Receive Payments:
“Athletes are paid by their education.”
Not ALL college athletes are on a full scholarship. That is far from the truth. The NCAA awards universities a certain amount of scholarships, in this example we will say it is 50. The institution is then responsible to disperse the assistance among its athletes, let’s say there are 100 kids on a football team, for the sake of simple math. If the school were to be in this exact situation, the BEST they could do to be absolutely fair, is to give everyone a half scholarship. Those student athletes would then be required to come up with the remainder. I understand that there are other forms of assistance that can be applied to take care of the remainder, but all in all, I feel that the argument about the players’ education being their pay is invalid.
“Athletes get more perks that other students.”
I agree wholeheartedly that athletes at major universities do get access to the best facilities on their campuses, but to argue the fact, they are the ones who are literally risking their body to fill the stadiums that paid for those facilities. Also, much of the athletic earnings help other building and facilities for the remainder of the campus. All those students had to do was get accepted to the university. Though they may been the valedictorian of their respective high school, I’m pretty certain that they couldn’t fill a stadium to watch them take their SAT or write their thesis.
Why Athletes Should Receive Payments:
“The Players Risk Their Bodies for the Schools”
Every athlete that decides to suit up for their respective school is risking their long term health to participate. I know that it is their CHOICE to play, so they must accept the consequences. Well, that would be a relevant argument if something were to come from them throwing themselves on the turf, or court, etc. for the sake of their hallowed institution. Let’s take Ryan Swope from Texas A&M for example. I have no knowledge about what scholarship he did or did not receive, but I do know that he suffered multiple concussions in college. He was brought into the Arizona Cardinals training camp, but was forced to retire because he never got cleared due to those collegiate concussions! You can not fault the man for attempting to chase his dream of playing professional sports. God forbid Ryan suffers any significant affects from his concussions in the future, but I feel that the right thing to have done was offer some sort of assistance from Texas A&M. He will more than likely get his degree, but if he cannot operate daily due to those collegiate concussions, what good will it do?
“The Universities and NCAA Make Mad Loot!”
I don’t have any financial numbers from any college or university, but let’s be honest, have you heard of any major university complaining about losses on the year other than the ones on the field? Tuition rates are sky high and keep rising yearly. Some universities have 100,000 seat stadiums that they consistently fill every Saturday, and the occasional Thursday. Not to mention the bowl games, and television contracts that the conferences receive (The SEC is sponsored by Home Depot). I received my B.A. in Marketing from West Texas A&M, Go Buffs!, and I know that it is not cheap to put your name on something (a stadium, a conference, a bowl game). I would love to know where all of that money goes to.
“The NCAA & Media Take Advantage of the Players.”
The NCAA and media take full advantage of the student athletes: think “Johnny Football”. I know their have been many before him, and will be plenty more after, but the media created the character “Johnny Football”. There are Johnny Football shirts, jerseys, hats, hell you name it and it is probably out there. The simple fact that the university can rake in the earnings on this created persona is blasphemous. An NFL contract has a paragraph that states how the NFL and the team can use your likeness for promotional purposes, but we do receive royalties from jersey sales, and video games, etc. The Ed O’Bannon v. NCAA lawsuit addresses those issues.
The only way to rectify the problem is to find a way to compensate all players on all teams evenly. That would be the only way to go about it for the simple fact that if you give the starting QB something, the walk on fifth string wide receiver will want the same compensation. You would be better off giving everyone a minimum amount than try to decide someone’s worth. I also feel that the athletes should be allowed to earn money from their “fame” while they have the opportunity. It was THEIR performance that sold the jerseys, and filled the seats, why not allow them to make a couple dollars on the side. If someone wants to pay the fifth string wide receiver for something, then so be it. Lastly, I feel that there should be some sort of assistance after college is done for the athletes. I’m not saying that they need to get retirement checks, but something to aid with the injuries sustained, or even helping with the transition into normal everyday life could be beneficial.
I spent four years at WT, and I saw plenty of guys come and go. Some walked away on their own, and others limped off into the sunset. The majority of those kids weren’t on any form of scholarship, and I was on a partial scholarship. There will never be a fair way to handle this, and quite frankly, there is a good chance that nothing will happen at all, but I feel that something needs to be done. Student athletes of all sports sacrifice so much to play the game that they love, for the school that they grow to love, for the slim chance of making it professionally, and a lot of times they end up with..nothing.