Paid for Play

With billions coming many people feel that the NCAA is exploiting these athletes under the current system.

As it stands student athletes cannot get outside jobs and cannot profit from their athletic success on the field. So while many of these players are Gods of campus, with tuition, room, board, meal plans, and tutors covered, they can not profit off of signing autographs, making T.V. appearances or even holding outside jobs.

Jerseys with these players numbers fly off the shelves. Video games with their likenesses sell millions of copies and the players are not allowed to get hair cuts for free?

Listening to sports analysts and fans discuss this inequality for months has led me to writing this piece. Personally I do not feel college athletes should get paid for their time on the field for many reasons, however with this said I understand the other side's argument and have found the true underlying issue the talking heads are actually discussing: there is no freedom of choice for these players.

When we think of the NCAA, the violations handed down, and our idea of players getting paid, we do not think about golfers, swimmers, baseball, hockey, volleyball and the vast majority of sports that make up the NCAA. No we almost exclusively focus on Men's basketball and football.

The reason paid for play is such a big deal here is for three reasons.

  1. The sports are popular

  2. it is commonly thought that these sports bring in the most revenue to the school

  3. IWhile both the NFL and NBA have some sort of developmental league, college is understood as the only viable and reliable way to break into the professional sport.

Without a minor league system (NHL, MLB) or being able to go directly to the sport players have no choice about the route that they can take to the NFL or NBA. A scholarship kid who chooses to play college baseball usually also has the choice to go directly into MLB's minor league system. A talented athlete that wants to go into the NBA or NFL must go to college to succeed.

This is the heart of the issue.. These kids do not have the choice of a minor league system to develop in instead. This is why people believe the kids are “exploited” (a loaded term), because the NCAA is the only way they can make it to their end goal.

With this said paid for play is not the solution to the problem.

What happens when the star-quarterback is getting paid an extra $40,000 a year and the offensive linmen who make him a success are get nothing?

How do you deal with the fact that someone who may be marginally better than you is making thousands because he is the starter and you get to ride the bench?

How do you control the larger schools from simply buying the best players?

What happens to the player who under performs? What do you do when the school and the fans turn on him for not living up to his “bonus?”

Money corrupts some of the oldest and wisest of us. Professional athletes have a hard enough time managing money. Now you want to give impressionable college students this same responsibility.

By paying players we open up a Pandora’s box of issues and challenges. And while the system is not perfect, everyone choosing to go into it knows what they are signing up for.

As it stands many student athletes get a well subsidized education. They do not have to worry about tutors, meals, room, board, tuition. And while these are just part of the college expenses they are a major part.

If kids are so strapped for money in school: take out a loan. Almost every student in America has student loans and uses them to get through school.

I understand the frustration out there when people hear about the billions of dollars that the NCAA makes, but we have to remember that they reinvest 96% of that back to the schools. I know that there is probably some corruption at the NCAA, but that does not change the fact that most college athlete departments run in the red.

With all of this frustration we lose sight of the fact that if the kids want it, if these young adults want it, they are getting an opportunity that most can not afford. In the end the heart of this issue lies at the simple truth that we feel these athletes do not have the freedom to choose their own path to success.

Unfortunately that in itself is a fallacy. No matter if it is a single school offering the student the opportunity to play they still have one choice to make: to play or not to.

So when you watch these athletes play and fill your heart remember that they made that choice to play and that they knew what they were getting themselves into.