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In the contemporary times, the popularity of sports in the United States of America has grown immensely. As a consequence, the outcomes have been significant as one can notice the considerable increase in the revenues for the NCAA (the National Collegiate Athletic Association) and the colleges that participate in athletic events. Due to this reason, the issue concerning the compensation of student athletes beyond their athletic scholarships has become a hot debate in the American society. As one could expect, this controversy is also supported and opposed by many people on various grounds. As far as my opinion is concerned, it is important for the authorities to make sure that the student athletes are paid in one way or another considering their valuable time, hard work, commitment, perseverance and dedication.
Intercollegiate sports are comprised of student athletes as their basic unit. Even though the tournaments held under the supervision of NCAA are extremely renowned and successful, it is rather astonishing that there is no monetary compensation given to the participating athletes. The NCAA gives several reasons for the nonpayment to student athletes. First, it considers that it is vital to not pay the students for the maintenance of their amateur status. Second, it is asserted by the NCAA that paying student athletes may compromise the veracity of intercollegiate games. On the other hand, the NCAA has been continuously involved in increasing its profits by selling television rights, video games’ licenses, and an array of merchandise. The bottom line is that even though athletes contribute as active participants in promoting such activities, they are not benefitted by the profits generated in the end (Andreff & Szymanski 379). Besides, the NCAA fines and punishes colleges and universities if they offer athletes to play on their teams and get paid. The NCAA does not also allow the educational institutions to create jobs for the athletes at the campus. Moreover, it is also prohibited by NCAA to offer inducements such as trips, clothes, cars, etc. to athletes for attracting them (Arnold 385). According to many, this practice of not paying student athletes is unethical and exploitative.
Why Student Athletes must be paid?
As mentioned, the American society of the modern times has been involved in a major discussion presently concerning the issue whether student athletes must be paid or not. The opponents’ argument is based on the ground that student athletes already get scholarships so they must not demonstrate greediness by asking for payments as athletics’ participants. If seen from the same perspective, an average scholarship is worth $25,000/year. In other words, it is $100,000 over a span of 4 years.
However, it must be understood that a lot of athletes do not complete the four-year term in a same school. This is because once they get themselves involved in a sport; they also involve themselves in politics and possible injurious incidents. Many athletes are let go from a team due to a number of reasons. It simply means that these players do not get full scholarships as they remain at a school for a year or two. They get transferred to other schools which is perhaps a better situation for them. Many players will get a scholarship for a year or two, and then transfer to a different school which turns out to be a better state of affairs (Hartnett).
It is significant to note here that a $25,000 per year only covers the fundamentals although it seems like a huge amount of money. The basics covered by this amount include baffling, unidentified housing, tuition, university fees, numerous $100 textbooks, and a meal-plan. If a student belongs to a poor-income household, it becomes difficult for him to manage his expenses in such situations.
In contrast to the beliefs of the opponents, it needs to be understood that it is a full-time job to be an athlete. In general, athletes start their days much before the beginning of classes. This is because they have to get lifts or sessions for physical (sometimes psychological) conditioning, attend classes till evenings, go for practicing, attend compulsory study halls followed by finishing homework or test preparations (Hartnett). It is worth-mentioning that a lot of student athletes are compelled not to consider their academic studies as important as sports. They are given constant encouragement that they must spend more time and energy for sharpening their physical skills so that more revenues could be generated.
This discussion is meant to highlight the fact that a scholarship is not adequate. It is absurd as well as unreasonable that most of the student athletes are monetarily dead broke whereas NCAA executives on the top positions earn about one million dollars annually. The story does not end here. There are other people and groups too (other than athletes themselves) that make money off the ‘amateur-level’ athletics. The coaches of teams are paid minimum $100,000/year for their coaching services for popular sports such as basketball, baseball, and football. In addition, the coaches are also offered bonuses when teams get to the playoffs, win tournaments and championships, or break any records. On the other hand, athletes receive ‘nothing’ as a bonus (Hartnett).
The NCAA, a pronounced non-profit company, signed a television agreement worth $10.8 with CBS/Turner Broadcasting over fourteen years in 2011. Yet again, the athletes whose participation makes the tournaments possible receive nothing as payments, rewards, or bonuses. The athletic programs supervised by colleges and universities are organized by spending millions of dollars. This money is brought in with the help of advertisements, promotions, donations, media rights, ticket sales, and other accessories with a price tag. The main thing is that these tickets and media copyrights are sold just because people love watching their favorite athletes playing their favorite sports. It is, however, a bitter reality that athletes get nothing in the end except praise (Hartnett).
The other argument given by opponents is that the athletic teams make headlines the entire year in newspapers. On the other hand, if the students achieve any distinction through scientific accomplishments, they are in the newspapers just for some days. They assert that payments are not necessary to student athletes as they receive attention and publicity throughout the year. They also assert that not every sport team has profitability for colleges and universities that include volleyball, swimming, and tennis. On the other hand, the lost revenue is generated by popular sports such as football, basketball, and baseball. Considering this scenario, the opponents aver that if all teams struggle for survival then why they should be paid (Hartnett).
When the NCAA was created in 1906 with the help of President Theodore Roosevelt, the president had no idea what this association would become later. Previously, it was a unique platform for watching athletes participating in sports. It was also made sure that everyone followed the rules and regulations. However, the NCAA has grown into a billion-dollar corporation in the twenty-first century. The reason nothing has changed is that decision makers do not have the guts of bringing change following the old traditions. They do not even want to make the necessary amendments (Hartnett). Instead, it is a saddening fact that the NCAA, colleges, and universities are treating student athletes as their slaves by enriching “on the backs of uncompensated young men, whose status as ‘student-athletes’ deprives them of the right to due process guaranteed by the Constitution” (Wilbon & Stout 259).
The point is that it is not necessary to pay huge sums of money to athletes every semester. Nevertheless, paying them $2000 over the semester course may help them to spend cash and a chance to manage their money. A lot of athletic programs are not able to pay their athletes due to inadequate funds. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the NCAA and its top-notch managers to introduce and implement a policy concerning athletes and compensate them for their hard work and time. This is because athletes are the golden geese who earn both their schools and the NCAA thousands and millions of dollars. They also make it possible for the enrollments to increase and their better performance also earns respect for everyone.
It is saddening that a top NCAA executive gets one million dollars a year whereas an athlete cannot earn even ten dollars after putting in so much time, dedication, and endeavors. As a matter of fact, it is questionable why the NCAA does not allow student athletes to use their name for promotional purposes (Hartnett). The hypocritical attitude of the NCAA needs to be changed otherwise the company would soon collapse because of its self-inflicting duplicity weight. Even though college sports have emerged as a multi-billion dollar business, the scrounging structure of these sports has done nothing for its young performers. This bloodsucking reality is evident by the fact that the participants do not even the compensation provided to a low-wage worker. According to Branch, “two of the noble principles by which the NCAA justifies its existence—‘amateurism’ and the ‘student-athlete’—are cynical hoaxes, legalistic confections propagated by the universities so they can exploit the skills and fame of young athletes” (Branch). It is not an untold secret that college athletics have evolved as an extraordinary phenomenon. At the same time, it is a mystery why the players’ hands and account remain empty while the NCAA, coaches, and the colleges and universities make millions. There is no doubt that the ancient mentality of the coaches and administrators working for the NCAA has made it a risky business for student athletes to showcase their talents and advance their careers. It is not possible for a college player to sell his own feet as it done by the coach. Similarly, a college player does not even enjoy the power of selling his own name as it is the college who is responsible for that. These practices can be easily compared with the plantation mentality that has been revivified and approved by the campus executives of the modern times. Another reason athletes must be paid is that these young performers offer significant rewards and acclamation to their educational institutions. In some cases, their services have become the foundation stone of several universities that are now famous due to the achievements of their athletes in college sports. In the same connection, extreme appreciation is given to universities such as Indiana and Alabama due to their exceptional prowess in basketball and football respectively. These universities are not acclaimed for their academic excellence but for their achievements in college sports.
As mentioned, student athletes are considered as amateur players by the NCAA. However, it is not a valid point to not compensate them for their hard work. The best example in this regard is that of AHL (Amateur Hockey League. The players in AHL are also considered amateurs but they are paid accordingly for their time and dedication. Therefore, it is not a right thing to label student athletes as amateurs so that they can be categorized as ones who are not eligible to receive payments. It is a shameful policy to recruit the best players, generate millions of dollars through their performance, and then making them go empty-handed. If the legitimacy of the college sports is to be saved then it is highly required to pay the athletes. This is because such policies have made many players to receive payments through black markets from under the table. The fact that their services go unnoticed and uncompensated has made players involve in risky business of receiving money illegally.
Andreff, W., & Szymanski, S. (2006).Handbook on the Economics of Sport. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.
Arnold, R. (2001). Microeconomics (5th ed.). Australia: South-Western College Pub.
Branch, Taylor. "The Shame of College Sports." The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 7 Sept. 2011. Web. 16 Jan. 2015. <http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/10/the-shame-of-college-sports/308643/?single_page=true>.
Hartnett, Tyson. "Why College Athletes Should Be Paid." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 21 Oct. 2013. Web. 15 Jan. 2015. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tyson-hartnett/college-athletes-should-be-paid_b_4133847.html>.
Wilbon, Michael, and G. Stout. The Best American Sports Writing. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. Print.
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