Colleges Athletes Should Be Paid?

In most Universities, athletes are a big source of income to the institution and making the millions of dollars they do from these athletes; You would think they would be paid. College athletes dedicate their lives to their school and sport, they put lots of stress on their bodies both physically and mentally, through the hard work they put in to compete in games and tournaments; these colleges receive high amounts of revenue and recognition. It is not fair to these athletes who are the reason for the athletic revenue of these colleges and receive no pay for competing in their full time job, their sport.

College Athletes dedicate their lives to their school and sport and that is what they put almost all of their time in, leaving very little for self and leisure time. In Trent A. Petrie and Eric L. Denson’s A Student Athlete’s Guide to College Success, they explain that “As a student athlete, you will find that your life often seems not to be your own. You will be expected to balance the basically full-time job of being an athlete with being a full time student (163 Petrie).” As a college athlete many hours of their day are put in to school and their sport, for example a typical day may might include having an 8:00 a.m. to 10:50 a.m. class then an hour meeting with their sport at 11:00 a.m. then another class at 1:00 p.m after this an hour and a half 3:00 p.m. sports film meeting and last a 2 hour practice ending around 6:30 p.m. Marc Edelman, a contributor to the “21 Reasons Why Student-Athletes Are Employees And Should Be Allowed To Unionize” article on Forbes, that states that “the typical Division I college football player devotes 43.3 hours per week to his sport — 3.3 more hours than the typical American work week (Forbes).” Once they’re finally home they have to shower and eat. By this time it is very late, the athlete is exhausted and tired but they still have to do homework and watch game film. This is clearly a very busy and tight schedule and once they finally get to sleep they are getting little sleep and waking up again the next morning with another similar and very busy schedule ahead of them. Even in the off season, their schedule is very hectic and even more time contribution goes into the sport when school is out, “a typical football players orientation week consist of of 14 hour days in early August, with just about every minute from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. devoted to football related activity (Chris Isidore )…” With this being said, it is clear that the athletes put the time and hard work in but are not being paid to do so; even a cashier working at McDonald’s would make about $140 a day if they were to clock in for 14 hours without putting as much stress on their body as an athlete.

I know many athletes who compete in sports at the Division I level and I asked three of them, “during season how much leisure/freetime do you get a day between class, football practice, meetings, and homework?” Issaiah Johnson, a football player at the University Of Arizona responded with, “maybe around two to three hours before I go to sleep and I stay up pretty late (Johnson).” Kevin Schmitt, a high jumper at Cal Poly responded that he probably gets “about an hour and half of time to just do whatever (Schmitt)” he wants. Randall Gonzalez responded “I’d say probably around three to four hours a day.” While interviewing my last college athlete source, I asked him how many class days did he have to miss during the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament and how difficult it was to catch up?” Jose Garcia Gonzalez, a guard for Cal State Fullerton Basketball team who competed in the March Madness, said ” we were gone from Tuesday to a Sunday, so we missed four class days and it wasn’t really hard to catch up (Gonzalez).” Four class days is a lot to not show up to class and although it may not have been hard for him, i’m sure to some of the athletes it was; with this amount of time being cut out of education and not learning directly from their professors. According to Lindsey Burke, an author for The Heritage Foundation; “The average full-time college student spends only 2.76 hours per day on all education-related activities.” Meaning the average college student has much more time to themselves and time to get jobs.

Being a college student is a struggle and very stressful, so imagine the amount of stress added to the student athletes, with adding such a big task. Athletes go through psychological and physical stresses, dealing with academics, finances, sleep difficulties or deprivation, injuries, keeping up with relationships, personal problems, plus the many other problems that just go along with becoming an adult. In Ann Kearns Davoren and Seunghyun Hwang’s article on the NCAA website, it is stated that: “while depression and anxiety have been found to be significant predictors of a lower grade-point average and poor athletics performance, they’re also highly correlated with other risky behaviors, including suicide. While it’s not clear whether the source of challenges to student-athlete mental well-being is the same as those non-athletes face, collegiate athletes are known to encounter unique stressors that the general population doesn’t have to deal with, such as time demands, relationships with coaches, and missed scheduled classes (NCAA).” Athletes deal with physical stress because of things such as getting very little sleep and putting stress on their bones and muscles from working out pretty much everyday. Pushing themselves to the limit at practices and lifting heavy weights are needed to compete at the levels they need to when game time comes but putting the stress on their bodies that they do will most likely lead to back pains and others pains and aches in their bodies at earlier ages than the typical person. These athletes go through this to perform at high levels to compete and win and with these wins bring revenue to the school but the athletes who work very hard do not get paid.

These athletes, bring in lots of revenue to the colleges from competing in big college games and tournaments, winning, ticket sales, etc. For example, the biggest NCAA basketball tournament is March Madness, it is highly broadcasted, many tickets sell for large amounts of money, and stated in The Washington Post; “Even if your college basketball team doesn’t win a game, you win $1.67 million. A round-of-16 appearance rakes in almost $5 million. A Final Four run? $8.3 million” (Will Hobson). Meaning that the least your college will make just for participation is $1.67 million, so imagine how much money the college basketball teams that are participating every year are bringing in and the many other sports tournaments and big games these college are competing in. These athletes are used for entertainment around the world and are professionalized without being payed. With big games and tournaments being so highly broadcasted, there comes lots of viewers and these teams that continue to win will tend to create a bigger name for the colleges and bring even more fans and spotlight to the college; meaning more ticket sales, broadcast, etc. and overall more money brought to the colleges. Once again, it would not be possible without these athletes but they are still not being paid.

Many people might argue that the student athletes are paid through scholarships because they get free or partial tuition, unlike most students. I feel this is a valid argument but these student athletes should be paid spending money for the amount of revenue they bring to the college. Some athletes are not going to the university’s seeking a degree but may have to attend because it is required for them to compete at the collegiate level before the pros, ins ports such as basketball and football. Stated in “The Professionalism of College Athletics”, Gelman gives an example of a college athlete looking to go straight to the pros after his freshman year, “This past April, Jahlil Okafor led his Duke basketball team to the NCAA championship. Now, the nineteen-year old is preparing to be a top pick in the 2015 NBA Draft… Those who play college sports are referred to as “student-athletes”, but some of these players are not interested in a degree. Okafor and his counterparts go to college merely to meet the eligibility requirements of their respective professional league”… These student athletes deserve pay because nothing much is being done for them but a qualification to make the professional leagues but they are the reason for the revenue and spotlight being brought to the school. In F.A. Hayek’s book, Economic Control and Totalitarianism; it is stated that “Our freedom of choice in a competitive society rests on the fact that, if one person refuses to satisfy our wishes, we can turn to another. But if we face a monopolist we are at his mercy (Hayek).” This can go back to that point that these colleges are just a qualification to go to the professional leagues for some athletes and that makes the college’s a monopoly because you have to go through them to take the next step. Another good point that is stated in the Atlantic Magazine is, “To insist that athletic scholarships settle the compensation issue is like saying that any worker who gets medical coverage doesn’t need or deserve a salary. Worse, the NCAA demands adherence to this absurd standard by forbidding both sides to negotiate changes. Non-playing adults thus reserve to themselves all the wealth generated by college sports, whereas the NCAA punishes highly-valued athletes (famously the Georgia Bulldogs receiver A. J. Green last year) even for selling an old jersey”

Receiver, AJ Green was playing football at The University of Georgia and contributed to many big plays and wins for the team and was suspended for four games by the NCAA for selling his bowl jersey. On fox news there is an article by associated press explaining the situation and it is stated “Green sold his jersey from last season’s Independence Bowl. The junior, who sat out the season-opening 55-7 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette, must miss three more games before regaining his eligibility, according to the ruling from the NCAA.” The athlete had to sit out in important games, harming him and his team because he was a top player, with many predictions to be a top 5 pick in the draft; meaning these four games could be very important for NFL agencies to see to get him drafted and a key to the college team. This is not fair to the athlete because his jersey can be sold by others and in stores and the school is once again making money off of the athlete and not giving the athlete any part of the sales. The schools might lose money for giving the athletes these full or partial scholarships but I am sure in most situations, they are earning more than losing because of all these aspects that bring money to the school. This is a full-time job that these athletes do not get good spending money for and it is not fair that they can’t be paid until they can reach the pros, which isn’t always the case.

Many might argue that these colleges athletes will move on to the pros and/or are getting degrees and will get good jobs but that isn’t always true. Not all college athletes can make the professional leagues, there aren’t enough teams and too many athletes seeking the professional leagues. NCAA states “More than 480,000 compete as NCAA athletes, and just a select few within each sport move on to compete at the professional or Olympic level,” according to the chart; only 9.5% of NCAA baseball players will make the pros, 1.2% of male basketball players, .9% of women basketball players, and 1.6% football players. The athletes who do not make it pro, which is a very large amount; do not always graduate with valuable degrees or the ones they want because they had a limit to what majors they could choose because of the lack of time they had in between their sports schedules. Bleacher Reports research shows that in 2016 the most common ACC major was Arts and sciences/arts and letters, there aren’t many jobs with good pay to get into with this type of major. With these majors that don’t have much value, these student athletes will either have to settle for these lower paying jobs or go back to school for a different study; using even more of their time.

In order to get the pay these college athletes deserve, not only them but the general sports fans and public have to bring the problem to attention. There has already been steps taken to achieve this goal of paying college athletes, such as bringing the issue to eyes and media but it’s going to make take more and will be a process. They would have to find out how to fairly pay each student athlete but not all should be paid because not all of the athletics bring in revenue. Football and men’s basketball bring in the most money, being the most streamed and the most fans; so they should be paid the most by far. Finding a system to pay the athletes will have to take a lot of consideration and time because if it is not fair there will be athletes who will most likely feel mistreated and not play. The pay will not make the students rich millionaires or anything crazy but should provide them enough to handle basic necessities such as phone and buying food and still have spending money for themselves. Regular college athletes have much more time to get jobs and still have time for school, so it isn’t fair that they devote all of their time to sports and can’t be paid to save up, go out and buy themselves nice things, or whatever they want with their money.

They should not be paid as much as a professional athlete but be paid enough to live comfortably with what they’re already supplied with. Overall college athletes who are competing at high levels and bringing in revenue to their schools, should be paid for the hard work, time and dedication, stress, image they bring to the school, and money they are bringing in.

Works Cited

  1. But as last week’s National Labor Relations Board ruling on Northwestern University’s football players makes clear. “Why Being a College Athlete Is a Full-Time Job.” CNNMoney, Cable News Network, money.cnn.com/2014/03/31/news/companies/college-athletes-jobs/index.html.
  2. Edelman, Marc. “21 Reasons Why Student-Athletes Are Employees And Should Be Allowed To Unionize.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 6 Jan. 2015, www.forbes.com/sites/marcedelman/2014/01/30/21-reasons-why-student-athletes-are-employees-and-should-be-allowed-to-unionize/#a2f96458d051.
  3. Gelman, Teddy. “The Professionalization of College Athletics Teddy Gelman Medium.” Medium.com, Medium, 22 May 2015, medium.com/@teddygelman/the-professionalization-of-college-athletics-8805e2db01f5.
  4. “Georgia Star Receiver A.J. Green Suspended 4 Games for Selling Bowl Jersey for $1,000.” Fox News, FOX News Network, www.foxnews.com/sports/georgia-star-receiver-a-j-green-suspended-4-games-for-selling-bowl-jersey-for-1000.
  5. Gonzalez, Jose. Personal telephone interview. 26 Nov. 2018
  6. Gonzalez, Randall. Personal telephone interview. 26 Nov. 2018
  7. Johnson, Issaiah. Personal telephone interview. 26 Nov. 2018
  8. Rpowell. “Mind, Body and Sport: Depression and Anxiety Prevalence in Student-Athletes.” NCAA.org – The Official Site of the NCAA, 11 July 2017, www.ncaa.org/sport-science-institute/mind-body-and-sport-depression-and-anxiety-prevalence-student-athletes.
  9. Schmitt, Kevin. Personal telephone interview. 26 Nov. 2018
  10. “When Pool Is NCAA’s Basketball Fund, Conferences Have a Lot Riding on Games.” The Washington Post, WP Company, www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/sports/ncaa-money/.
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