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3 Points for Paying College Athletes

080126hm_spt_04.jpgLately, sports news has been resurrecting the age-old question of whether or not college athletes should be paid. Many wonder if paying college athletes would forever change the nature of the game. A lot of fans say they’d rather watch college sports; somehow they think it’s devoid of politics and the almighty dollar so prevalent in the NFL. Others wonder why college athletes haven’t been paid thus far since their bodies are on the line in each and every game.

Let’s look at three top points to make the case for paying college athletes.

Point #1 Just because a college kid gets a scholarship that includes a meal plan and housing doesn’t mean he has access to unlimited funds, or any funds at all for that matter; to order pizza on the weekend, buy some new socks or jeans, or even go home during breaks. A small wage would help college athletes have a balanced life apart from their athletic activities.

Point #2 Who says college sports is for the fun of it? It’s a multi-billion dollar business and players should be compensated for their time…heck, everyone else is. Schools get paid. Coaches get paid. Team medical staff gets paid. Everyone gets their piece of their pie except the player himself. A college education is no longer an even exchange for playing; it hasn’t been for a long time. College sports is less than a stone’s throw from professional sports in that billions of dollars are made from advertising, media, luxury boxes, ticket sales and beyond. Players, especially star players, make their schools a boatload of cash. Players don’t see a dime of that money.

Phil RankinPoint #3 College athletes deserve to get paid. They put their bodies on the line, and are often afflicted with career-ending injuries that hand them a one-way ticket out of sports forever. Besides their education, what have they got to show for their efforts? Some say players should get a job for extra expenses incurred. Uh, when is this supposed to happen? With classes, studying, multiple practices, mandatory weight room time and game travel time, not to mention league rules, players are often restricted from outside jobs.

Players don’t need to make millions but come on, even minimum wage for hours worked or a weekly allowance would make it a lot easier on these players; many from low-income families and under-privileged areas of the country. Also, pay needs to be on an equal playing field – star athletes and bench warmers alike should receive the same amount, starting out, then perhaps a graduated scale depending on grade level.

Whether you agree or not, paying college athletes is a topic that needs to be tackled by the industry. It’s a complicated, on-going issue with a plethora of what if’s involved and a front line of opposition. My own opinion is, let these players get paid what they’re worth – a workman is worthy of his hire – it’s not going to drain the money pots of those getting rich off of them anyway.


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Image by Phil Rankin

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9 Responses to 3 Points for Paying College Athletes

  1. Jason Peck March 22, 2010 at 3:28 pm #

    I love this topic for discussion. Let’s be honest though. When we’re talking about whether or not college athletes should be paid, we’re really only talking about D1 football and basketball players. They’re the ones that are really making the biggest sacrifices and generating the most money for schools…though some would say they do reap the biggest rewards. I don’t have an official position to take or anything. The whispers that these athletes should get paid are growing louder though.

  2. Lewis Howes March 22, 2010 at 3:44 pm #

    Jason: Right we are talking mostly about the top level D1 men sports here.

    I think athletes should get paid.. how much? I’m not sure. But just paying for tuition is not enough when coaches are making a very nice living off of their talents. Not to mention it is funding a lot of programs for the school if it weren’t for these athletes.

  3. George March 22, 2010 at 11:04 pm #

    As a former college athlete, I definitely agree with the concept of paying the college athletes at least a small monthly stipend. However, economically many of the college athletic programs operate in the red. So unless you play football for USC, Texas, Michigan, etc… your institution may not have enought to spread to all the athletes in each sport.
    The only money making programs at the Division Level are the football and men’s basketball programs. But if you pay those players, you can’t eliminate the track and swimming athletes either.

  4. Deandra D. March 23, 2010 at 10:25 am #

    This is a healthy debate that could go on forever lol. When you start paying collegiate athletes, does it take the amateurism out of the equation?

    I agree with George in that you can’t eliminate the track and swimming athletes either (or any other Olympic sports). Lewis and Jason, though you’re talking mostly about the top level D1 sports, you also can’t eliminate the women’s teams who sacrifice just as much, even though they may not bring in the $$ for the department. It can be defined by amount of “sacrifice” because all athletes put their bodies through turmoil, regardless of the sport. I’m sure this would have been done a long time ago if a system was put in place that promoted parity across the board, but it’s not fair to say that a men’s basketball team makes a bigger “sacrifice” than the women’s basketball team…just because they are more popular.

    Just my 2 cents 🙂

  5. Deandra D. March 23, 2010 at 10:27 am #

    oops, typo, I meant “It can’t be defined by the amount…”

  6. Albert Bernestine March 24, 2010 at 12:08 pm #

    Fantastic take on this subject Michelle. There is no question ALL college athletes should be paid. The tier of the athlete or division an athlete plays in is irrelevant. If I can piggyback on what others have said, I don’t have an answer for the specific dollar amount these athletes need to get. It has to be a respectable number. With D1 athletics being big business, the argument of keeping the “pro” element out of college athletics is flawed.

    And If I can add a sidebar comment….Why should players like a John Wall be forced to do a year in college? That guy is NBA ready. The NBA and NCAA need to rethink their respective positions on the 1 year of college rule.

  7. James M Neal April 1, 2010 at 10:52 pm #

    Untill today i've always felt college and olympic athletes should not be paid. But after reading all your comments i have to say i agree with you on all points, i would just prefer nopt to see it get out of hand like in professional sports.

  8. gailsideman April 1, 2010 at 11:43 pm #

    Once you let this genie out of the proverbial bottle, I'm afraid that it would be very difficult to police equality, which is the only way paying athletes could be justified.

    I do, however, believe that the NCAA rules for regarding athletes ability to work, should be modified.

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