College Sports, the Country-Wide Debate on Compensation

March 8, 2017

For years, sports fans have argued about whether college athletes should be compensated for the hours of work they do for their school and the revenue brought in. In today’s society, one side might say that these athletes should be paid solely based on the money they earn for their schools as public figures. However, others will say that paying the students may cause an unfair advantage in terms of recruiting and would also make the players play with less effort knowing it’s only to earn a check. The problem lies on the amount players should be paid if they should at all? and if they should be compensated beyond the thousands they already receive in scholarship money. After all, these student-athletes are part of a “non-profit” organization that pulls in about $1 billion dollars in profit a year. College athletes are professionals who deserve to be paid like them.
   

In 2016, the National Labor Relations Board recognized that the players qualified as workers but not workers deserving of proper education beyond an education. (Martelle) This outlandish decision completely contradicts the fact that top-tier college athletics is not an amateur pursuit. It’s a big business built on the performances of student-athletes that must balance their time in the classroom with their time on the field. Why should the real money makers be recognized as workers but still not receive a cent of money when they are barred from accepting it from anyone else? In fact, the entire profit of the ‘non-profit’ NCAA relies on each individual athlete. Without these players, the means of generating money would be completely abysmal.
   

In amateur sports, the players are unpaid. “The coaches are usually unpaid as well, or else modestly paid to promote exercise, community spirit, and friendly competition. In amateur sports, the competitors do not spend a great deal of time practicing, since they are playing for fun and have work or school full-time.” (Furth) While it is completely understandable for coaches and players to be unpaid in amateur sports, college athletics are not amateur. These student-athletes put their bodies on the line every play, put in hours upon hours of practice, sacrifice their grades for the good of the team, and can still find some way to not be compensated by the NCAA due to the fact that they can classify these laborers as students and thereby avoid any payment. Top-tier college athletics is not an amateur pursuit.


If the NCAA is going to limit the benefits of the real workers, why aren’t they limiting those same rewards from staff members such as coaches, trainers, and other team assistants? (Martelle). These athletes put in just as, if not more work as all of these staff members yet the only difference is that one group is being paid and the other isn’t. Coaches and other members are vital to the team, but who would execute the brilliant play calls devised if there were no players? Having no players but a coach is like a car without an engine or a train without a track. Having the athletes receive some sort of compensation at least equal to lesser staff members would encourage them to stay longer and also cause them to show more effort knowing they are playing for something.
Others may say that paying players would be unfair for major colleges conferences because it could harm the spirit of competition, making it so that only a few powerhouse teams will make the big tournaments with no chance of being upset by small schools. Some fans would agree that “the NCAA’s upper-middle class and its Division 1-percenters are positioned to put future tournaments well beyond the reach of the plebes.” (King).  They could say that only rich schools will have to chance to recruit these 5-star athletes making so that poorer schools have no chance for these players. However, this cannot possibly be true. With SEC teams winning 7 of the last 8 college football championships (Furth), this unbalance of skill is already in today’s competition. If anything, compensating the students will make for even more exciting championships. More money means more effort, more passion, and higher intensity.


In conclusion, athletes in college sports are not close to amateurs. They are players who have devoted years of their lives to the love of their game and will keep doing it for years to come, putting their mental and physical health at risk for the enjoyment of fans. With this being said, what these students do should not continue to be executed free of charge. Millions of dollars a year are shelled out to coaches and other staff members of each team. Why should the real workers stay unpaid for their hard work and labor? At the very least, the NCAA must compensate the athletes for the money they earn their universities through things like ticket and jersey sales. Next time you watch a college sport, think of the wear and tear one of the thousands of athletes take everyday without a cent to make up for it.






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