Did you know that the NCAA made more than 1 Billion dollars profit in 2017 from basketball coverage, while many of the players struggled to pay for food when playing away from home? According to NCAA rules, college athletes cannot be paid to play their sport beyond the educational scholarship. Most scholarships cover their education and books, campus housing and cafeteria meals when on campus. The student athlete is responsible for all other expenses including personal items, clothing, food while traveling off campus (including away games) and other incidentals. Some argue the athlete’s education should come first and the profits generated are spread throughout all the programs and many smaller schools or less popular sports would be cut if they had to pay their athletes. The amount of time and dedication that these students give, it is like they are working a full time job in addition to going to school and playing in the games. This does not include the time spent traveling for away games and conferences. However, they are not the ones benefitting from their hard work, therefore college athletes should be paid to play because colleges and universities make a lot of money off of those student athletes while many of them cannot even afford basic living expenses.
Most schools and their donor’s feel the athlete’s education should come first and the profits generated be spread throughout all the programs to prevent many smaller schools or less popular sports from being cut if they had to pay their athletes. The NCAA says that “maintaining amateurism is crucial to preserving an academic environment in which acquiring a quality education is the first priority.”(Cockrell. par.3) The players feel differently. “Shabez Napier, a guard for UCONN basketball, told the sports media, “We do have hungry nights that we don’t have enough money to get food in… but I still gotta play up to my capabilities.”(Clay. par.4) In spite of the fact that big conference schools make profits in the billions, there are those colleges that make only 1-2% of that money. According to a conversation by The Aspen Institution, as written in Swimming World News; the projected revenue for major conferences in 2020 (like the Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC) exceeds $2.8 billion. Going further down the list, 76 percent of Division I schools make less than $50 million in athletic revenue and 44 percent make less than $20 million.”(Robuck. par. 2) This statistic shows the difference that the division level plays in payment of the profits, yet all teams still play the same amount of games and require the same commitment and effort from its athletes. Schools can sell signed photos, uniform jerseys and helmets as memorabilia to raise money and use a players’ likeness for promotion without any payment to the players. However, there are loyal fans that do not want to tarnish the game by paying the players. “In an NCAA survey, 69 percent of the public and 61 percent of sports fans are opposed to paying college athletes. Furthermore, 53 percent of the public and 62 percent of sports fans are less than likely to watch or attend sporting events if popular players are paid more than non-popular players.” These are the same fans that buy the memorabilia and wait in line for autographs and photos with the players not realizing the students do not benefit from this. (Robuck. par. 5)
While this may be true there is a way to even the field. College athletes should be paid to play because colleges and universities make a lot of money off of those student athletes while many of them cannot even afford basic living expenses. At the same time “As of 2017, there were more than two dozen schools that generated upwards of $100 million in annual revenue through their athletic programs.”(Cockrell. par.1) Equally important is the students’ dedication to their sport and being an athlete is like having a full time job outside of school. Athletes must attend all practices averaging 43 hours a week, press conferences, promo events, all the traveling for away games and anything else the school wants while maintain a C average in their studies according to Swimming World News. (Robuck. pars.1, 3, 5) Student athletes can be seen studying on the team busses and airplanes while traveling, in the locker-room before and after practices and during meals because they are not allowed extra time to turn in assignments even if they are on the road. With the many obligations required to be a student athlete, holding another job would be virtually impossible due to a lack of time.
In conclusion, student athletes should be paid money in addition to their scholarships. They are expected to practice over 40 hours a week perfecting their sport in addition to the extra events required to promote the sport and the school. Most scholarships cover basic housing and their education leaving no spending money to cover any necessary expenses such as food on the road and personal items. Sports fans may think that it will harm the integrity of the game however, when these students prove they are as committed to their sport and school as a full time job they should be paid.