The Importance of Paying College Athletes

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In discussions of compensation for college athletes, a point of disagreement has been weather or not college athletes should be paid for their heavy amount of hard work and dedication. Often, business analysts and sports writers argue that college athletes have no time to work and therefore should be paid, while others contend that college athletes already receive compensation by not having to pay for college tuition. This in fact is a false claim as most athltes do not receive a full ride scholarship or even a scholarship at all.

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College athletes should be paid because they work so hard but receive severe injuries instead of money, they train so hard each day, just so they can just struggle with maintain their GPA, and meanwhile NCAA continues to generate profit off a playerr’s work.

The importance of paying college athletes is simple, give credit where credit is due. So many times the media highlights these big Pac 12 schools, the most prestigious league in the NCAA. Always commemorated for their excellence in attendance and atmosphere but they never highlight who brings in the audience. Who makes the tickets sell? Who inspires younger individuals to strive and be just like them. Big schools like UCLA and Ohio State are not good just because of their name, but the players that are recruited in to the teams and even make the team as walk on. It does not matter if youre an enrolled athlete a community college or at an Ivy League like Standford. Every individual athlete puts in the same amount of work to get to the next level but often are held back by financial troubles, lack of educational resources, and the often mentioned lack of time.

A common occurrence within college sports, specifically football, are injuries either suffered at practice, during games, or during training sessions. There are over 3.8 million sports related injuries that occur each year (McDevitt, 2011). Some of these injuries are concussions. Concussions are caused by an impactful hit to the head and it actually affects the brain in many ways including: balance problems, depression, and as far as permanent brain damage. Derek Sheely, an ex-college football player for Frostburg State University, sustained a bad concussion during a preseason practice drill. He was put on the restricted list and had to rehab the injury in attempt to make a comeback. In his return to the field he was aggressively ran into the ground during a drill which caused him to hit his head again and ended up dying six days later due to brain swelling. (Dresser,2016. Brain surgeon Jane McDevitt has stated previously Concussions in athletes account for 16.5 billion dollars or 44% of all hospitalization. In what world is it fair that a player is exposed to sustaining a life threatening and expensive injury while not making any money doing so? Concussions are serious issue and can possibly force athletes to forfeit their scholarship if they have one and eventually must drop out of school due to financial struggles. The common mistake that people often make is that most players on scholarship only accept because most of the finances are paid for, but nobody ever stops to think what would happen if it I stripped away? It is very simple, within a couple weeks they realize that the loan debt they are about to put themselves in is not worth the headache but instead transfer out to a less expensive college.

In contrast, some people think athletes should not be paid. These people think this because athletes are already being given a free ride to college and they are not employees. William Berry III, a law professor at the University of Mississippi School of Law actually wrote an article on the debate of college athletes are considered employees and had very compelling arguments. The employee-athlete narrative takes the opposite approach and suggests that the only reason athletes come to campus is athletics. They perform their duties as a full-time job to generate revenue for the university and, in some cases, create the opportunity to play their sport professionally. (Berry, 2018) This is a very under the radar fact,as most athletes put in full time job like effort in order to play their sport professionally. According to the U.S department of labor in order for a job to be determined full time it has to be between 32-40 hours a week. Athletes alone put in over 45 hours a week just in practice, weight room sessions, physical therapy, and film time. Letr’s not forget that these athletes are STUDENT-athletes, which means another 25-30 hours a week of dedication to school work like attending class, tutoring sessions, studying for quizzes and exams, and completing homework. All to be just compensated with sore muscles and a struggling GPA.

Injuries to athletes often times lead to lack of focus in school and maintain a high grade point average becomes critically impossible, let alone a passing GPA. Trying to focus on a sport while having to make sure your grades are good enough so you keep your scholarship and your spot on the team creates a heavy amount of pressure on student athletes. The easy solution to this would be taking a day off but how could you take a day off without any money? College students have a reputation of being broke said one student from Oklahoma State University. Athletes have no time to obtain a part time job because they are either on the field, training for their respected sport, or in the classroom. Tell me how an individual is supposed to train their body to sustain going to school, training , and maintaining a job for a steady income. Exhaustion does exist in this world where individuals can push their bodies over the limit and over work themselves into complete exhaustion.

The college sports industry generates $11 billion in annual revenues.Over two-hundred and fifty colleges report annual revenues that exceed $50 million. Meanwhile, sixty colleges report annual revenues that exceed $100 million. These revenues come from numerous sources, including ticket sales, sponsorship rights, and the sale of broadcast rights. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) recently sold broadcast rights to its annual men’s basketball tournament for upwards of $770 million per season. And the Big Ten Conference has launched its own television network that sells air time to sponsors during the broadcast of its football and men’s basketball games. (Mitchell, 2013. Edelman, 2013) Case in point, the NCAA and Universities make more than enough money to afford to pay college athletes.

Money is not the issue as therer’s evidence that they can afford to pay athletes yet NCAA rules and regulations do not allow athletes to receive any type of gifts or compensation without NCAA approval. The workers are supposed to be content with a scholarship that does not even cover the full cost of attending college. Any student athlete who accepts an unapproved, free hamburger from a coach, or even a fan, is in violation of N.C.A.A. rules. (Nocera, 2011) These athletes are not fooled by the NCAA. They know what their services bring to the table when they see the stands sold out and filled by fans from all over. They see their last names printed on the back of jerseys being sold around campus. It is no secret college athletes are what keep the athletic program funded by the millions of dollars they bring in. However, there has not been a lack of effort for trying to compensate athletes at least from some schools. Most recently, the University of Miami and Ohio State University. The revelation that a University of Miami booster, now in prison, convicted of running a Ponzi scheme that provided dozens of Miami football players with money, cars and even prostitutes. The Ohio State merchandise scandal that cost the coach, Jim Tressel, his job. The financial scandal at the Fiesta Bowl that led to the firing of its chief executive and the indictment of another top executive. (Nocera,2011) It hasnt been for lack of effort, but the NCAA quickly cracks down on anybody in violation of their regulations no matter their job title.

The controversy surrounding the debate of college athletes getting paid or not has caught the attention of analyst even outside the sports industry. Andrew Zimbalist, a U.S economics expert wrote an article on why the college sports industry would take a huge downfall if they started paying their respected athletes. How can Division I colleges afford this expense when the median DI athletics program loses $11 million a year on an operating basis and much more when capital and indirect costs are included (Zimbalist,2013) Paying college athletes would dent the profit margins and capital of sports programs massively as there are over thousands of student athletes on all teams ranging from football to the chess team. This would cause an uproar from athletes as well. For example, football players who go out and put their body and health on the line would be compensated the same amount as a player of the math decathlon team. Two completely different sports with totally different stipulations but same pay because of labor disputes.

In conclusion, the NCAA needs to reevaluate their compensation regulations to allow athletes to be paid for their tremendous efforts. By cutting the salaries of executives who oversee the business aspect the NCAA can make enough to compensate their respected athletes at the end of each participated semester. College athletes should be paid because they work so hard but sustain severe injuries instead of money considering concussions may not only be career ending, but life threatening. Student athletes train so hard each day, so they can play each game at his or her very best, while trying to attend class and get all the work done for each class yet often see their GPA struggling. The NCAA makes money off each student athlete while the athlete receives no compensation for his or her work but an exhausted body, and mind.

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