Imagine having an occupation that involves entertaining a crowd for about forty minutes with slight breaks in between. Sounds easy right? Let’s add a constant switch between sprinting and light jogging back and forth on a 94 foot long by 50 foot wide rectangle. Place a ball in your hand, and now you must figure out how to get this ball inside a circle measuring 18 inches in diameter; did I mention that this goal sits 10 feet off the ground? Try accomplishing this task with five burly, robust gladiators looking to stop you at all cost! Your body will surely become accustom to aches and pains after doing this thirty one times in the span of a couple months. Now imagine doing this for free! The average person would ask themselves why they would put their body through so much strenuous activity for an organization and not receive proper compensation. Who in their right mind would do such a thing? Well let me introduce you to the world of college athletes.
We are faced with two problems in this world of college sports. The first issue is that student athletes are working by putting time in one the basketball court and going to school so they are putting in way more hours than your average blue-collar worker who toils 40 hours a week on the job. Secondly, we have the F.B.I. wasting time with so called ‘scandals’ from the scouts, down to the coaches and players. With more pressing issues at hand such as counterintelligence, terrorism, and cyber-crime, the F.B.I. shouldn’t have to delve into such a minor issue. Unfortunately, these problems happen on a regular basis but money is the fix for it all. Let’s start with the history on how and why college athletes are not being paid for their services.
Those in college who engage in any sport are referred to as “student athletes” for a particular reason. Walter Byers, the first executive director of the NCAA coined this term in the 1950s to assist the NCAA in fighting a legal case. The case involved injured football players attempting to receive workmen’s compensation; the worst case involving Ray Dennison who received a head injury and died shortly after in 1955 while playing in Colorado for the Fort Lewis A&M Aggies. His widow filed for workmen’s compensation death benefits. Myers argued in court that Dennison was a student first, who just happened to be an athlete and that college wasn’t in the business of football; rather football is just an extracurricular activity. Dennison’s widow did not receive any money and thus the NCAA engrained the term “student athlete” into their everyday lingo. This became the genesis on how colleges make millions of dollars per year off the sweaty back of student athletes.
Big-time universities making money from student athletics is not necessarily a bad thing. This money supports many good causes: sports sponsorship and scholarship fund, educational programs, academic enhancement fund, and the funding of championship games to name a few. So let’s address the main problem at hand: “If the NCAA ever removed itself entirely from academics and became solely an organizer of sporting events, then that could pose a significant threat to the association’s current nonprofit model (Edelman, 2014).” Minor issues fall under this main umbrella since the NCAA still involves itself with academics and sports likewise.
College professors and coaches will swear by the grave that student athletics isn’t a job but student athletes are pulled out of class at any given moment to play games, and can even miss up to a quarter of all class days during the Spring semester while the NCAA men’s basketball championship is in session. Take away the salary from the coaches and professors and then we’ll see if their view point about players not getting paid remains the same. I can guarantee that a strike and protest will commence until the coaches and professors are satisfied with the agreement that will come about as a result of their organized rebellion.
Then what if the student decides during his senior year that basketball is not his pursuit of interest any longer; what can he do as an alternative in the corporate world if he is danger of not graduating from academic failure due to being pulled out of class time after time? Paying the players will at least put some money in their pocket so if they do choose another career path, they will have some money to fall back on. Inadequate grades and no future of professional sports in sight lead the college athlete down a road of impending disaster.
Any productive member of society has the mind frame that they want to be compensated for a 40-hour work week and even time and a half if worked over that in some cases. The typical division I college football player devotes 43.3 hours per week to his sport so why is he being exploited? That player needs to understand the principle of making money. Once a few dollars are made then he must know how to use some for living expenses, save some, and invest some for future endeavors. These are essential life skills that the athlete will have to use whether he pursues a career in professional sports or he decides to take the blue collar route, operating a forklift in Costco’s warehouse. And these life skills that come along with receiving a decent education seem to be what these athletes are lacking.
Mary Willingham could attest to players receiving praise for what they can do on a basketball court but that same player can be found not receiving an adequate education. A learning specialist at the University of North Carolina, Mary encountered many students whose reading and writing were very poor. One athlete would see himself in the newspaper but wasn’t even able to read the article written about his achievements and feats. “A CNN investigation found public universities across the country where many students in the basketball and football programs could read only up to an eighth-grade level. The data obtained through open records requests also showed a staggering achievement gap between college athletes and their peers at the same institution (Ganim, 2014).”
While these athletes may lack good grades academically, it has been shown in times past that their exceptional performance on the field or the basketball court can increase the popularity and attractiveness of that college. So we pose the question that if the athlete is basically a walking, talking, and performing advertisement, then once again why isn’t he receiving any compensation for his labor? For instance, when Doug Flutie won the Heisman trophy as the nation’s outstanding college football player for Boston College, the undergraduate admission increased by 25 percent that year. Patrick Ewing’s outstanding play for Georgetown during the 82-82 season “helped generate a 47% increase in undergraduate applications and a forty-point rise in freshman SAT scores during the following admissions cycle at Georgetown University (Edelman, 2014).” Instead of the money given to those two gentlemen, it is rather pumped back into the hands of athletic directors, coaches, and a select amount of administrative staff.
According to Cork Gaines with the Business Insider, “231 NCAA Division I schools with generated a total of $9.15 billion in revenue during the 2015 fiscal year.” Athletes did not receive any of this money. The law makes it illegal for a future prospect to a accept money from a recruiter or agent and in turn scandal after scandal can be found on the internet and in the daily news. No one is intentionally trying to break the law; they just want extra income and who doesn’t want to live the American Dream right?
How is it labeled a scandal for coaches and scouts to use some money to pay off a high school player with a bribe to ensure that athlete’s spot is secured with a potential college? This happened in 2009 with top assistant Sean Miller ensuring that DeAndre Ayton would sign with the University of Arizona to play as their center. Miller was even willing to give $100,000 to make this happen. People see this as problem but let’s change the scenario and look from a different angle.
Say for instance, that Microsoft is in desperate need for a software engineer. After interviewing 10 candidates, the candidate they find to be the best fit also has an offer to work with Apple. Microsoft then offers the potential employee a signing bonus with the intent to entice the applicant to sign-on with the employer’s organization. A sign-on bonus is usually used for executive-level positions or to recruit employees with special, hard-to-find skills and experience. So what’s the difference between this situation and the high-school athlete accepting a bonus to secure his position for his job at his future college of choice? There is no difference; problems only arise due to the archaic NCAA rules and regulations.
In conclusion, paying NCAA athletes would eliminate the scandals of scouts trying to give money to potential newcomers. It would be just like a job in the corporate world offering a position to a prospective they’re really interested in. College athletes would also learn life skills about money while they’re young. Just in case they don’t go to the N.B.A, then that money would be available for them as a cushion of support until job opportunities become available unto them after a degree is obtained. Lastly, this would encourage kids to finish out ll the years of their schooling instead of opting out to play overseas or play professional only after one complete year of college. If the kid is getting paid now, he will have the best of both worlds: a completed degree of education and money in the bank!
- Edelman, M. (2015, January 06). 21 Reasons Why Student-Athletes Are Employees And Should Be Allowed To Unionize. Retrieved November 11, 2018, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/marcedelman/2014/01/30/21-reasons-why-student-athletes-are-employees-and-should-be-allowed-to-unionize/#9ac86f48d051
- Ganim, S. (2014, January 08). Some college athletes play like adults, read like 5th-graders. Retrieved November 11, 2018, from https://www.cnn.com/2014/01/07/us/ncaa-athletes-reading-scores/index.html
- Gaines, C. (2016, October 14). The difference in how much money schools make off of college sports is jarring, and it is the biggest obstacle to paying athletes. Retrieved November 11, 2018, from https://www.businessinsider.com/ncaa-schools-college-sports-revenue-2016-10
- Solomon, J. (2018, May 24). The History Behind the Debate Over Paying NCAA Athletes. Retrieved November 11, 2018, from https://www.aspeninstitute.org/blog-posts/history-behind-debate-paying-ncaa-athletes/