Top 10 Reasons College Athletes Should Not Be Paid
Collegiate sports are big money makers, at least that’s what most people think, right? The truth is, the only collegiate sports that really make anything for the colleges are football and basketball, and only the top championship teams really bring in money for their schools. Because the general public sees these teams as cash cows, the debate as to if college athletes should be paid is brought up during every championship season, whether it is the football national championship or March Madness, which occurs each year to determine the champion of college basketball.
There are a number of reasons why people believe college athletes should be paid. For instance, serious college athletes spend more time practicing their sports and playing the game as most people spend at work each week. In other words, being a college athlete is the equivalent of a full time job. Speaking of jobs, since college athletes are spending so much time on the field or court and in the classroom, they don’t have the time to actually work, so many of them have a difficult time making ends meet.
This information certainly supports the fact that college athletes should be paid, but there is a lot more to the debate than this. Just as there are so many reasons a college athlete should be paid for their skills, there are just as many reasons to not pay these athletes. Here are the top 10 reasons college athletes should not be paid:
10. College Athletic Programs Cannot Afford to Pay Athletes
Though it is true that there is a lot of money coming into some college athletic program, there is just as much money going out, and in most cases, these programs are working at a loss. Take Auburn University, for instance. In 2015, the school debuted their newest addition, an almost 11,000 square feet, high-definition screen in the stadium. The glow from this screen can be seen up to 30 miles away, and it came to the university at a cost of $13.9 million.
Now, people who believe college athletes should be paid see this cost and immediately say, if Auburn can spend this much on a screen, they certainly can spend money on paying their athletes. On the surface, this seems like a valid statement. However, what these people do not realize is that the Auburn athletic department posted a $17 million deficit in 2014 and this screen was the equivalent of a ‘Hail Mary’ pass to try to bring more money into the program.
Auburn is not alone in this. You can also look at numbers across the board for some of the top schools in the nation and see that these purchases are not the best investments. Approximately six years ago, Rutgers University made a big purchase: an expansion to the football stadium that cost $102 million. The goal of this expansion was no different than the goal of Auburn…to bring more money into the program. However, today, the deficit for the Rutgers athletic department tops $36 million, which is the same as losing $1 every second for an entire year.
9. Most Elite College Athletes Get Sports Scholarships, Which is Payment Enough
Make no mistake. When people talk about paying college athletes for playing sports, they are not talking about the golf or tennis player from the Division IV school in the heartland of Iowa who has no illusions that they will ever be a professional. Instead, they are talking about the handful of cream of the crop football and basketball players; the players who become household names during March Madness or during the NCAA football bowl season. In other words, they are talking about the elite athletes from schools such as Ohio State, Alabama, Florida State, Duke, UConn and Kentucky.
These athletes almost always get their full tuition paid for, or at least significantly discounted. Billions are given to athletes each year, and in some cases, the average athletic scholarship at a school actually exceeds the school’s tuition. For instance, consider Ohio State, one of the biggest and most well known football programs in the nation. The average in-state tuition at the university is just over $10,000 a year, yet the average athletic scholarship is $17,856 for male athletes. In other words, these athletes are having their full tuition paid for, in addition to other perks.
Even if a student is not actually receiving money towards tuition, they often get expert, NFL level coaching and freebies such as housing, meals, clothing, medical care, and professional development. Oh, and these perks go to those who are getting full rides, too.
8. Playing College Sports is a Privilege
For every high school athlete that dreams of playing in college, only about 7 percent go on to do it. Furthermore, only 2 percent of these people play in a Division I school. What does that tell you? That playing sports in college is a privilege.
College athletes should recognize that the opportunity they have to play in college is something that millions of people dream of and never achieve. Playing in college should be done for the love of the game, after all, that’s what it is…a game. Most college athletes truly love their chosen sport, and don’t want it to ever turn into a job or chore. When it does, the love that they have for the fame is lost.
Most people see playing in college as a fulfillment of their childhood dreams, and most childhood dreams are unconcerned with the money that could come along with a career in sports. Instead, they dream of talking to their team in a huddle, doing their victory dance in front of a crowd of 100,000 after scoring a touchdown and feeling the pride of walking through campus after winning the big game.
The most these students should be getting out of playing in college is the pride, gratification and competition of the game. They should feel the thrill of their victories and the pure agony of being defeated. This is the heart of the game in college, and doing it for any other reason, such as money, lessons the dreams of those who want to be in the same position.
7. There is No Fair Way to Pay College Athletes
When the topic of paying college athletes comes up, there are two trains of thought. First, some people believe that these people should all be paid based on an open market system. This would allow supply and demand to come into play, and a school would be able to pay an individual player based on the revenue that comes in due to their talents. The payment would vary depending on the local market and the deal that each athlete has with the school. However, the questions arise of how the value of a player will be determined and what happens if an athlete is “hired” at a small rate of pay, and then vastly improves over the season. What if a school pays a player a high wage, and they end up getting hurt?
There is also the fact that not every college could afford the players they want to recruit. An analysis was done in 2013 concerning the financial stability of public school Division I athletic departments. What this study found was that only 23 of the 228 Division I schools were running their programs in the black, which would technically mean that only 23 of the 228 schools really had the money to pay a college athlete. In the real world, any business running in the red is very likely not hiring, and there is nothing to stay that a college athletic team that pays its players would operate any differently.
6. Students are Not Professionals
College is a time to learn, and whether a student wants to be an accountant or a professional athlete, they are not a professional when still in school. Students are not paid salaries like a professional, nor do they receive professional perks. As a student athlete, a student is able to gain access to a college education through the participation of their sport. In fact, a student athlete should look at their college sports experience simply as a vehicle to higher education. This access is only available, however, through continuous enrollment in the school, academic eligibility and participation in the sport they play.
On top of essentially earning a free degree, something that almost no other student can do when they go through college, a very high percentage of student athletes graduate without having any student loans. Most other students, however, certainly accumulate these. For those student athletes who still have trouble with money after all of this, there is the NCAA Student Assistance Fund, which will help in the case of difficulty paying for the cost of attendance.
The bottom line is this: a student athlete is an amateur, just like a student accountant, who is making a choice to participate in a sport as part of their overall educational experience. Since this is the case, it doesn’t matter how many touchdowns they score or how many three-pointers they make, as they are not professionals, and they should not make professional money.