College Athletes Shouldn’t Be Paid While catching up on some game day scores for college football, an article popped up on the side with a title reading, College Athletes Deserve To Be Paid. I noticed it was written by Michael Wilbon, one of the hosts from the ESPN show, Pardon the Interruption. Already disagreeing with the title before even reading it, I was skeptical, but I clicked on the link and started to read. Wilbon brought up a number of decent points throughout the article, but for some odd reason, they didn’t seem to add up to me.
This is why I took the opportunity to do a little more research behind the points made in the article and came up with a concept of my own. Wilbon’s reasons why to pay the athletes don’t have a strong backbone to them and his ideas on how to pay athletes are simply not feasible. A point made by Wilbon is that the poor athletes have no spending money, which accounts for a large percent of college programs. This is a false accusation. Although not every student athlete receives grants, the NCAA will provide the low income athletes and their families a Pell Grant worth $5,500 per year that can be spent on anything.
For this year, The NCAA gave out over $31 million in Pell Grants. Since the NCAA has originated, they have been helping out colleges with supporting the financial needs of athletes that are not met through the school. Wilbon also believes that the only collegiate athletes that should be paid are the ones that are on revenue producing teams. In most cases this would be the football teams and men’s basketball teams. While this may not seem fair to the other teams, Wilbon’s reason is simple; Capitalism.
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The only players that deserve to be paid are the ones that can make the NCAA money. This could cause problems within the United States court systems however. Even if you wanted to pay the revenue-producing athletes, Titles VII and IX could withhold the process. Title VII prohibits employment discrimination against race, color, culture, etc. If you were to start paying college athletes, then they would become employees of the NCAA and they would all have to be paid the same wage or salary to avoid discrimination.
Also, Title IX was established to avoid discrimination of sex. In Wilbon’s scenario, only men’s basketball would be paid, causing a discrimination against women’s basketball. Not only would there be a discrepancy in the court system, but also in the recruiting system if teams were to start paying their athletes. If certain universities and colleges start paying their athletes, then the players would not choose the school based on the academics and facilities, but rather how much money they were getting offered.
The bigger the schools, the more money they would be able to offer and in essences, this would create power houses within the different leagues and conferences. Once there is a dominant team in the conference, it personally becomes much less interesting to watch, as you almost know who is going to win before the game even starts. This could make the NCAA lose money in the long run, if colleges were to pay their athletes. Wilbon acknowledges that players receive scholarships for tuition, room, board, and books, but argues that it’s not enough of a compensation for some of the players.
I understand that in some cases, the revenues produced by the team could exceed the expenses of an athlete’s college bills. But a situation like that is few and far between, as only 22 Division 1 schools out of 120 made a profit (Bennett). With just over 18% of athletic programs making money, it sounds implausible for schools to pay their athletes. Wilbon doesn’t bring this up in his argument, but education is impossible to put a monetary value on. While the college athlete isn’t getting paid, he is receiving free education that can change his life dramatically in the grand scheme of things.
Without the opportunity these college athletes are given, most of them would not go to college, and consequently end up in a very different lifestyle afterwards, odds being worse off. Along the lines of this subject, is the reason for college in the first place. Wilbon doesn’t mention or even hint to this in his article, but nonetheless it is still an extremely important factor that is one of the main reasons why collegiate athletes still don’t get paid to this day. College was made as a way to continue your schooling to receive a higher education.
Notice the key word in that sentence; education. College wasn’t made for athletes, that’s why when one says they’re a “student-athlete,” the student part comes first, simply because being a student is more important than the sport itself. If a college athlete was to be paid, there’s no doubt in my mind that the importance of education would decrease substantially. While being a collegiate athlete you also receive benefits that most college students would be extremely thankful for.
If you are a part of a decent football team, you will go to a bowl game, which is essentially a week vacation in hot tropical place at an all-inclusive resort. Or if you are on an average basketball team, you will be invited to the March Madness tournament to stay up to three weeks away from school in a city filled with activities and events to keep you busy. Not only are these players getting treated to a vacation, but these are the same players that Wilbon wants to pay.
Along with the free vacations, these college athletes have an opportunity that is second to none. For four years, these athletes get to show their talents to their potential employers. A regular student, like me, has a maximum of 15 minutes to impress an employer looking to hire. And you’re an athlete, so you don’t need to assemble a resume, if your good enough, your performance should say it all. While I disagree with Wilbon’s reasons why athletes should be paid, I find his reasoning that the NCAA should be paying them absurd.
Wilbon argues that the NCAA is so greedy and selfish because they make all this money and essentially don’t pay their employees (the athletes). When looking at it from afar, this can appear to be right, and Wilbon persuades the reader by emphasizing the $774 million made from the college basketball tournament, March Madness last year and the $175 million made from 5 of the college football bowl games. However, these are the only two substantial money contributors to the NCAA funds.
When all this money is collected, the NCAA distributes their revenues as follows, 60% to Division 1 schools, 19% to services and programs dedicated to the athletes, 13% to the championship events, and 4% for other services like the Eligibility Center. If you do the math, that leaves 4% for the NCAA to run their headquarters and pay their own employees. To me that’s not selfish at all and they help the schools out more than enough with the money they give them and the services they provide them (“Distribution Money”).
To go into a deeper meaning of these numbers, it is necessary to understand what the NCAA truly does for the colleges and their players. The 60% that is given to the Division 1 schools can be spent however they would like to. It is typically spent on things like some of the universities salaries, grants-in-aid, facilities maintenance, team travel, game expenses, equipment, uniforms, and many miscellaneous expenses that are hard to keep track of. Another big portion of their revenues are the services and programs that they provide to the universities and athletes, which is 19% of their total revenue.
These services and programs consist of scholarship programs for athletes, legal management, membership programs, research grants, sport committees and some smaller programs for the students. The bottom line is that they spend so much money on trying to keep the universities and students in good standing, that they honestly can’t afford to pay the students. When the revenues are done being divided up into the different segments, they are left with a measly 4% of the pie for themselves (Schlabach).
Even though Wilbon gives a ridiculous way to pay athletes through the NCAA, he also gives another solution that is much more feasible. His other proposition is actually plausible and in my mind, an honest way to earn money for a collegiate athlete. Another way that Wilbon thinks college athletes should be able to make money is through endorsing products or being sponsored by companies. In my view, this is not only achievable, but it is fair to everyone as well. By giving the opportunity to star in a commercial or whatever it may be, it gives the chance for the athlete to make money while working for it too.
This way, it is reasonable because athletes can’t have a normal job due to their demanding schedule, but at the same time; they can make a little money on the side just like the conventional students at their college would. In addition to permitting athletes to endorse products, it would also save the NCAA from leading expensive investigations that try to discovery these very same acts. Point being, I’m not completely against college athletes receiving a paycheck, but it’s not attainable if you are trying to get the colleges or the NCAA to cut the checks.
Both, colleges and the NCAA have mass amounts of money coming in but that doesn’t change the fact that they both run on tight budgets that have very little degree of flexibility within them. On the other hand, if a corporation or any outside company wants to pay the athlete in return for their endorsement, then so be it, it’s just like any other job a college student is doing, but glorified. College athletes are like any other person, they want to make money, so let them do it, just not at the cost of the NCAA or their respective colleges. Works Cited
Bennett, Dashiell. "Only 22 Of 120 Division I Athletic Programs Made Money Last Year. " Business Insider. N. p. , 15 June 2011. Web. 14 Nov. 2012. . "Distribution of the Money. " NCAA Champion, n. d. Web. 14 Nov. 2012. . "National Collegiate Athletic Association. " Where Does the Money Go? N. p. , n. d. Web. 14 Nov. 2012. . Schlabach, Mark. "NCAA: Where Does the Money go? " ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures, n. d. Web. 14 Nov. 2012. . Wilbon, Michael. "College Athletes Deserve to Be paid. " ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures, 18 July 2011. Web. 14 Nov. 2012. .
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