Playing sports of any kind comes with associated risks, which is why pro athletes are some of the highest paid individuals in the industry. During a 3.5-year career, an average pro football player makes over $6 million, while an average professional basketball player makes over $24 million during his 4.8-year career.
But why are student-athletes not afforded the same compensation? They are still at risk every time they step inside the court or in the field, after all. Kevin Ware, for example, suffered a gruesome injury while playing as a guard for Rockdale County High in metro Atlanta. Before the incident, he was the most famous player in college basketball, something that had to take a back seat because of what happened.
Although he’s now restarting his career and his life, there is no denying that being a college athlete has dangers that can permanently cut someone’s chances of making it to the pros. So why shouldn’t they be compensated at a time when they are risking their lives and their career while playing sports in college?
The NCAA — collegiate sport’s implementing body, and member institutions clearly said no when asked whether they can afford to pay student athletes. They also argued that paying college athletes, on top of a full or partial academic scholarship, “undermines the purpose of college: an education. Student-athletes are not employees, and their participation in college sports is voluntary.”
Economist, however, say that the NCAA and other colleges make more money from sports than what they spend on sports programs. March Madness or the series of NCAA basketball tournaments, for instance, made NCAA, as a whole, an annual payout of $6 billion. So, yes, they can definitely afford to pay college athletes. Before you decide which side to take, it is best to know the pros and cons.
List of Pros of Paying College Athletes
1. Provides a source of funds
After academic responsibilities, most college athletes spend their time practicing, which leaves little room for finding other means of making money to compensate for food, board, books and other expenses not covered by their scholarship grants. While other students are working part time, college athletes are working hard in court, in the field or in the rink, without earning even a single dollar. So getting paid, even a little extra, would go a long way to helping them pay for all their needs. This would also make a huge difference for students from families with low income.
2. Eliminate shady practices
Athletes can be forced to do anything out of necessity, making them vulnerable to abuses. people with a vested interest in a particular game can offer them special ‘privileges’ for shaving points, faking an injury or other ways that can influence the outcome of a game. If college players are well compensated, however, light could be shed on shady businesses that happen on the sidelines.
3. Attract more talent
Why put your life on the line for something that pays nothing? This is probably one of the thoughts that would run through the mind of potential college athletes. Scholarship grants can only attract so much. Add to this the grade requirements to stay on the team and the grant would become even more unattractive.
However, if the situation is similar with the football team of Northwestern University, schools would have access to raw sports talents. Players of Northwestern Wildcats are considered primarily as athletes rather than students. So now they get employee medical benefits and an option to unionize. No talented college student would say no to this.
4. Generates income
If all college athletes decide not to play until they get paid, schools and the NCAA might as well kiss the business goodbye. College sports are a business, after all, and it is the students that bring in the revenue. Money is not only made through tickets and sponsorships, but also from merchandise or video games that were fashioned after the likeness of some college athletes. But do they even get recognition or royalty? No.
List of Cons of Paying College Athletes
1. Undermines the true meaning of college sports
According to the NCAA, college sports are more about the academics rather than the profit, a concept that will take a 360-degree turn if money comes into the equation. Because now everyone would probably be in it for the money. Traditionalists also argue that college sports are designed to foster true sportsmanship and not so the athletes could profit from them.
Besides, college athletes are being paid in a different way. Apart from academic scholarships and grants, they are also exposed to recruiters, sports agencies and team owners. Some of the best college athletes went on to play in major leagues, the NFL, the NBA and earn millions of dollars. But this is only possible if an athlete doesn’t suffer a career-ending injury.
2. Unfair pay and compensation
One of the arguments of those opposed to paying college athletes is how schools with lesser funds would be able to handle the payment requirements. There’s also a question of the basis for compensation. Are college athletes going to be paid based on the amount of revenue that they bring in or on their performance? Should male athletes be paid more than female athletes? Whichever way you look at it, one party would always think of unfair treatment.
3. Cause peer problems
College students are already given scholarships and grants, if they’re also being paid for playing sports, the rest of the student population would think they’re getting more than what they deserve. This can result in animosity and envy, with some students showing their resentment in physical and dangerous ways. This could create a culture of hatred towards college athletes.
Paying college athletes may be beneficial to the students, but it can cause budget problems to schools that need to re-invest whatever they earned from college sports to provide better facilities and fulfill the academic needs of their students. College sports that are not as popular would also end up being treated unfairly where compensations are concerned, since they can only bring in so much income. So is it a good idea to pay college athletes or not?