College athletes: Should they get paid to play?

Collegiate athletes lay it all on the line when they compete. Just like their professional counterparts, they play the game with heart and soul. Why, then, are they not given monetary compensation in return for all the blood, sweat and tears they shed for their school?

According to “Let’s start paying college athletes” by Joe Nocera of The New York Times, the 15 highest-paid NCAA football coaches made $53.4 million; meanwhile, the 13,877 Division I players made $0.

I realize that for those coaches, this is their career, and they are not serving double duty as students. But for those players, every practice, scrimmage and game requires an immense amount of time and a significant amount of risk.

I’m not calling for giving college athletes the ability to sign endorsement contracts and other high-profile financial benefits, but why not at least pay them for playing?

A large amount of time for a college athlete goes into his or her respective sport, an average of 50 hours a week, according to Nocera. That equates to more than a full-time job, which I’m sure if you asked an athlete, that’s exactly what playing a sport is.

The argument from the NCAA is that if you start paying the players, it is no longer an amateur sports league, which goes against tradition. They also argue that these athletes are primarily students and, of course, many of them are on an athletic scholarship. So, in a way they’re being paid for their commitment.

In 2011, Mark Emmert, the president of the NCAA, pushed to allow Division I schools to pay their athletes a $2,000 stipend to help the offset the difference in covering their college tuition. Unfortunately, in the attempt to give these athletes some kind of compensation, it turns out that some colleges claimed they couldn’t afford the stipend, and it was suspended indefinitely at the end of the year.

Regardless of this attempt to compensate the athletes, it’s by no means what I would call a legitimate attempt.

Let’s say you are an average college student putting in 30 hours a week at a minimum wage job ($7.70 per hour). That student would make roughly six times that stipend in a year. I think we can all agree that just doesn’t seem fair in any way, shape or form.

Sure, these athletes are also college students and not professionals, but why not at least pay them a decent wage for the hours they dedicate to these university athletic programs? In their success on the field, the university succeeds as well.

As for the argument that these athletes are receiving compensation in the form of an athletic scholarship, that’s no different than a normal student receiving an academic scholarship and then working at an on-campus job part time.

No matter which way you spin it, I think college athletes deserve some kind monetary compensation for all the work they put into being a member of a university sports team.

Nothing outrageous like what the professionals make, but just something equivalent to what an average college student would make at a part-time job. I don’t think it’s an outrageous request by any means — especially when you see how much the universities make off the games.

For some of these athletes, their sport of choice may be the key to their livelihood. To lose that to a college injury without anything to show for it, except for fond college memories, isn’t something that sits well for me.

These men and women commit so much to their sports; it only seems fair that the universities reward them for that devotion. 

Share this...