What has continued to be one of the most pressing issues in the world of sports today has now become a matter the NCAA can no longer afford to ignore. The service that college athletes provide to the institutions they attend in addition to millions of spectators all over the world is still not being rewarded in the manner that it should be for their above-average dedication, work ethic and most importantly, money brought in to their employer.
The NCAA is a multi-billion dollar industry that generated over $845 billion last year due to their players' ability to entertain and perform to their fullest extent at all times. So with all of this money flowing in why wouldn't they provide their athletes a stipend?
Well that's a question that today baffles many. What they basically have in place is a corporation that makes tons of money and, oh yeah, they don't have to pay their employees. Sounds like the perfect business model right?
Is It Truly A Fair Trade?
Perhaps the easiest argument against compensating college players is that, "they are paid because they are getting a free education". An education, however, is not all they need money for on the bumpy road to living their dream of playing professionally.
Athletes in college are putting themselves at the same physical risk as the professionals involved in each respective sport. They need to be insured medically so their bodies cannot further develop lingering problems due to injury and stress on the tissue, muscles and bones.
Furthermore, does the millions of dollars the schools receive annually really equate to just a Bachelor's degree? The answer is no. College athletes have a significantly larger workload than your average student with hours of rigorous training, games and classes, all at the same time.
When all of these responsibilities are taken into account, this is truly a full-time job as their duties to fulfill expectations of their peers and superiors far outweigh that of a student on academic scholarship.
There Is A Double Standard For Student Athletes
So, if these players can't receive benefits, then surely they should be able to work and make their own money just like any other student right? Not so fast. The NCAA is actually bold enough to restrict their athletes from having jobs or making money because they don't want them cashing in on their performances in any way.
Does this mean that if someone wants to buy an autographed jersey off of me for $1,000 dollars I can't do it? Or if a restaurant wants to give me a free meal I have to decline? At the end of the day these are just regular, broke college kids so of course any offer of money to buy clothes or go out would be an easy choice, especially when its free! If a student on a music scholarship accepted any money or gifts, no one would notice, or care. There is a double standard.
NCAA Is Not Professional?
The NCAA does not see its players as professional athletes simply because they are in college. However for some odd reason the coaches are paid rather professionally. In fact the average salary for a major college head coach is upwards of $1.5 million to $5 million.
There certainly is enough money to go around and these athletes are surely not seeing any of it. Why should a coach be getting paid more than any other tenured professor at a university, if it indeed is not a professional sport?
This is where it gets a bit tricky. Those that complain that these kids shouldn't get paid with million dollar contracts while in school are completely right. No one is asking for millions of dollars, yet with this giant amount of revenue that the NCAA has, they should surely be able to share just a small portion with their players. Just enough for them to be comfortable and get compensated for the hours of work they put in for their schools.
And for the people who argue that if football and basketball players get paid then so should athletes in volleyball, hockey, lacrosse, soccer, etc., just stop it. We all know who the real bread-winners are out in major schools. This is just another case of the controversial yet logical theory where not everything is equal but justified.
At the end of the day whatever brings in money should be paid for accordingly, and the same goes for any business out there. No one is saying they should be getting million dollar contracts but universities should step up and pay them just like they would for any other part-time job a student would have working in the library, admissions office or cafeteria. Why shouldn't athletes receive the same benefits? And if not then they should surely be able to get their own jobs and even make money off of their status as they clearly worked hard to earn it.
Saying that money could not be dispersed reasonably is truly an inadequate excuse as there are plenty of ways to dish out the revenue at a reasonable rate, comparable to other student workers. The NCAA is a professional business and the players should be paid like one.
These athletes are not only students, but employees to their universities and conferences. This is a truly flawed system that must be rectified if the NCAA wants to avoid anymore scandals and controversy surrounding this "cheating" epidemic.
Top Photo Courtesy: ESPN Magazine