Opinion: Why College Athletes Should be Paid


Nigel Hayes, a superstar college basketball player from the University of Wisconsin, was at the College GameDay show as a part of the crowd. Much like many other students and fans, he was holding up a sign. 

Typically students hold up funny signs knocking the other school’s team or funny college football jokes. But Hayes was holding up something different, something that holds more meaning, something with more power. Hayes’ sign read “Broke College Athlete. Anything Helps.” Below it was his Venmo username so people could donate funds to his account. And people did. He later donated the funds to charity because he felt bad for taking the money all for himself. 

The underlying message to this story is that people actually donated to Hayes. College athletes deserve to be paid because they don’t have the time to support themselves, and athletics can take away from academic studies. 

Players are being held back in not only school but supporting themselves in the real world as well. In an article from GQ it claims, “Athletes continue to play under a decades-old system in which scholarships pay for tuition, room, and board but fall short of covering the full cost of attending school. In return, players are expected to maintain a ridiculous training and playing schedule while keeping up their studies.” 

College athletes go to practice, film studies, and game preparations for an average of forty hours a week! That’s more than an average of five hours a day! What kind of job are they supposed to hold? Working ten hours a week to make around eighty dollars? Practice, on top of a job, on top of classes. These kinds of things should not be expected from eighteen to twenty-two year old students. These athletes would spend more time working than the average adult does in an actual career. 

   The biggest question is, are college athletes part-time students or are college students part-time athletes? In reality, it’s not even a question that should be asked. But it is, because athletes have been struggling to find time for far too long.

 In recent research, Professor Jasmine Harris added that, “almost sixty five percent of of college student-athletes find it difficult to very difficult finding time between sports, studies, and work from the moment they set foot on campus to graduation.”

Another thing that will blow your mind is that the NCAA makes a base revenue of $10.8 billion per year. Not to mention instances in 2017, when they sold their television rights of the men’s college basketball tournament to CBS for seven hundred million dollars, or back in 2011 when they sold the television rights for the BCS National Championship game for an extra three hundred and fifty million dollars. 

In an article on ESPN Michael Wilbon claimed, “So, if those two deals were worth, say, a combined $10 billion instead of $11.3 billion, would the games not be televised? Would the quality of the broadcasts or the coverage or the staging of the events be somehow diminished? What if people in the business of money took $1.3 billion off the top, invested it, sheltered it and made it available to provide a stipend to college athletes.” 

Also in 2011, the NCAA brought in one hundred and seventy four million dollars between just five bowl games. Now don’t get me wrong, the NCAA does pay for student-athletes’ clothing purchases, emergency travel plans, and medical expenses. But out of all those hundreds and millions of dollars, why can’t some of it go into something like an opportunity fund that allows athletes to pay for the day-to-day expenses? 

The college athletes don’t necessarily have to be paid by the NCAA, but there is an NCAA rule that is holding them back from making their own profits. According to the NCAA Manual under Rule it states, “A student-athlete may not be employed to sell equipment related to the student-athlete’s sport if his or her name, picture, or athletics reputation is used to advertise or promote the product, the job or the employer. If the student-athlete’s name, picture or athletics reputation is not used for advertising or promotion, the student-athlete may be employed in a legitimate sales position, provided he or she is reimbursed at an hourly rate or set salary in the same manner as any non athlete salesperson.”

This means student athletes can’t sell their jerseys, shoes, etc. for any kind of profit. But why not? If you have a superstar athlete, lets say Nigel Hayes for instance, and he wants to sell a jersey from his crazy fifty point performance, why hold him back from doing so? It is his jersey after all. If he can keep it for his “collection” so to speak, why does the NCAA find it impermissible for him to sell it? 

Many people may disagree that student athletes should not be paid because they receive scholarship money and free meals daily. According to an article on ESPN, “Every student who signs a letter of intent or agrees to accept a scholarship to play a sport knows going in that the school’s job is to make the most money off of his or her efforts. They agree to that. It’s no different than a professional athlete signing a contract.” 

So let me ask this, if an athlete is good enough to earn a scholarship somewhere and avoid spending $34,000 per year, why wouldn’t they? Plus the time they have to take and the amount of money the organization they’re playing for makes. 

At the end of the day, college athletes need to be paid because of the amount of time they are expected to play, film study, and prepare for games, with school on top of it all. It is true that they do get paid in scholarships and meals, but that doesn’t help them in any way with day-to-day expenses that they need to live like the rest of us. College athletes should be paid because they don’t have the time to support themselves, and athletics also take away from academic studies.

Categories: Opinion, Sports

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