Should College Athletes Get Paid?

8 August 2016

When I look at today’s college athletes as compared to the ones a hundred years ago there are some things that I noticed are different. First off I noticed today all the popularity and all the stardom that comes with being a high level collegiate athlete. Second I saw that most college athletes were not receiving a scholarship to play collegiate level sports. Thirdly I saw that there was not as much pressure to perform a hundred years ago. The big reason that all the fame and pressure have amped up over the last 100 years is because of the media.

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Now if you look at today’s college sports you see eighteen-year-old kids becoming superstars and having a whole nation watching them and either supporting or hating them. You see kids not even twenty-one years old going pro and making millions of dollars. There has now become this “gray area” with collegiate level athletes and if they should be paid or not. Collegiate athletes should receive compensation for participation in collegiate level athletics. Over the past few years there has been much debate on if college athletes should get paid or not.

The big argument for not paying them is that they are already receiving a scholarship to go to school. They are already receiving thousands of dollars to get a collegiate level education and they still get to play the sport they love. Another argument is that they are in college they have the easy road to make it to the professional level and to make the millions of dollars. They get access to high level training equipment and professional trainers to get them to perform at the top of their game. People have said that colleges should be used strictly for academic purposes only.

Jordan Weissmann is one of many people that think having college athletics hurts the university. He states in an article he wrote in The Atlantic, “Everything we think we know about college football’s impact on students’ grades, graduation rates, rankings, and school finances adds up to this: Football might be bad for some colleges”. (The Atlantic) He later goes on to say that school’s can lose a lot of money if they don’t have a great program. There are also other people that if the university has a high level athletic team it “taints” the university, especially if one of the players or coaches receives and NCAA sanction.

Even through NCAA sanctions there is still a lot of positive publicity that can come out of having sports at the collegiate level. First, The NCAA and its member schools should adopt a policy of “controlled access,” where agents and college athletes meet in open, regulated meetings. Many coaches and schools have a blanket prohibition on all athlete-agent contact until the season is over. But a total ban leads to a perverse result: The most ethical agents abide by the rules and stay away, while unscrupulous agents operate in the shadows, currying favor with student-athletes and their families in violation of school policies.

(US Today: “Athletes, agents and the NCAA: It’s time for a fix”) What this excerpt is saying is that even though some of the agents stay away, there are some of the “not by the book” agents that will under the table make deals with athletes. This is when the officials for the NCAA come down hard on the university. This is what can cause such a negative taint on a public university. College can be very expensive. There are so many things that cost a lot of money in college. Students have to pay for classes itself, and then pay for books and housing and that is just the start of it.

Students have to also purchase school supplies, and some classes have individual items that they have to purchase for their classes. College students need to be fed, so there is a big cost in that factor of having to purchase so much food and if that student is playing a sport they are going to need more food to keep the carbohydrate levels up to where they need to be to perform. With all of this being said, being a college athlete alone and a college student is very expensive. For a college student time is a very valuable thing.

With all the homework and organizations they can be in, students do not have much time to do homework let alone have a significant job. For college athletes they do not have time to do schoolwork and to hold a job. This means that under the current NCAA rulings, they are not allowed to receive any extra benefits or money from anyone other then blood relatives. With college as expensive as it is how are college athletes supposed to make any extra spending money? Even when it is the offseason the athlete is still doing something from the time they wake up until the time they go the bed.

The athlete is a big part of the recruiting process. With the athlete always being on campus and being able to be a first hand informer to the new recruits the athlete will be in charge of showing the possible recruits around campus and telling them how everything on campus works and what being a collegiate athlete is like. Colleges have a lot to benefit from having great athletic teams at the university. You can look at this in a different variety of ways. The first and biggest aspect is economically. Lets take a university like Wisconsin-Madison. Wisconsin has some great athletic teams.

The football team is ranked 21st in the nation, hockey is 13th and basketball is 6th in the nation. (USA Today Coaches Poll) If you have teams that are in the to 25th percentile in sports the economic rewards are huge. Neal Smatresk summed it up beautifully in his article in the Las Vegas Sun. Success breeds success. The impressive performance of our men’s basketball program draws people to our institution. We saw a large increase in applicants after our recent Sweet 16 appearance. Alumni reconnected with the university. Some of our biggest fans have become our biggest donors.

Our new Mendenhall Practice Center is a prime example of how athletics engages our supporters, and it doesn’t stop with giving to athletics. Donors attracted to UNLV through athletics fund academic scholarships, like the Engelstad Scholars Program; faculty and academic programs, like the Lee Business School; and support our educational and scholarly mission. So our athletics program is “the front porch” of the university and leads our community through the door to our outstanding educational programs. (Las Vegas Sun) What he is saying here is that if you have a great team it opens up so many different doors for the university to make money.

The university can make money through donations, scholarships and TV rights and that’s just the tip of it all. If the university has a good team they will make millions of dollars on merchandise and ticket sales alone. There is also the possibility that if the team makes it to the tournaments or bowl games the funds the school will receive in scholarships and TV airtime for the school just gives off so much positive publicity. Everyone who watches these games sees and the school gets its name out into the media. There is just one problem with all of this.

As the university gains more and more money the athletes who are playing their hearts out will not see a penny of that money. Let’s look at the University of Wisconsin again. In 2008 the most expensive where most of the money they make goes to is their operating costs at about 93 million dollars a year. Followed by the money given for scholarships at 9 million dollars a year and at a close third the teams travel expenses at just a littler less the 8. 8 million dollars a year. Those are some huge amounts of money that the athletes don’t even see a cent of that money.

(ESPN’s College sports revenue and expenses) Money is a very important item for most teenagers, and for collegiate athletes it’s no different. When you see the big college athletes go pro, we hear stories about how they have wasted all their money and are broke now. One of the big reasons for this is that all their life most of them have never had much money for themselves. When they get the big payday they don’t know how to smart fully save and spend the money and they just go crazy and spend it all. Robert Pagliarini explains another big reason to why they all end up broke in his article in the “Chicago Tribune”.

Research published in the Journal of Judgment and Decision Making shows professional athletes are more present focused rather than future focused as compared to non-athletes. In other words, there is much greater emphasis placed on today than there is on tomorrow. This may help support the athletes’ winner-take-all mindset that they need to excel, but this can also impede any attempt at saving and investing for their future. (Chicago Tribune) What Pagliarini is stating is that because from birth and athlete is taught to win and win now they transfer that over to their financial situation and want to live for now and not for tomorrow.

It is because of these two points that states why pro athletes go broke so quick after they retire is why we need to pay collegiate athletes. If we were to pay them in college this would help them with the shell shock they would get from signing that big professional contract. Now don’t get me wrong I don’t think that college athletes should be making millions of dollars. Not by any means do I think that should happen, but what I mean is that we need to work them into that big contract.

This could mean a few different options; first option is that you give them a weekly based salary and let them do with it what they want. This would give them the freedom to spend the money however they would choose but they would not have millions of dollars to go out and spend. If the university even chooses they can put a limit on how much of that weekly salary they are allowed to spend and how much they should save. Another option for a university to look at is that the university could give a set amount of money the athlete would get during the season and that’s all they would get over the whole season.

Just like the last option, the university has the option to set restraints on how much they spend where and how much they should save and put towards things like an emergency fund and things like that. The downside to this option is that they could do just like some of the professional players do and blow the money right away. The way to counter that is the university would have to set limits on how much the athlete could spend per week/month. This would then counter the problem of the athlete spending all the money right away in one sitting.

The way college system is set up today is not by any means perfect. There is a lot of changes that need to happen to “clean up” the game, however paying college athletes would go a long ways in helping to clean up the game. This would help them by giving the fair amount of money that they work for to reward the university, and in turn for the university to help them become better with their money. College sports aren’t perfect but they are getting there and if they would start to pay college athletes, it would be a giant step towards cleaning the game up.

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