Should College Athletes Be Paid?

Opposing opinions on the future of the NCAA player compensations

A college basketball athlete illustration representing how there is a debate over whether or not college athletes should be paid.

Illustration by Josh Blatt

A college basketball athlete illustration representing how there is a debate over whether or not college athletes should be paid.

Noah Housler and Ethan Irish

By Noah Housler

   Monetary compensation of college athletes has always been against the rules. Lately, there has been debate over if this is a practice that is ethical to keep in place long term.

   Those that believe college athletes should be paid see college sports as taking advantage of kids working for free while schools bring in hundreds of millions of dollars. However, these people either underestimate the cost of, or completely disregard, the free education, housing, food, and facilities these student athletes have access to because of their athletic skills. They say that these student athletes don’t have time for jobs like other students, but all the benefits they receive for playing a sport greatly outweigh what could be made at most part time jobs for college students. Paying college athletes officially would make college sports even less competitive because the more successful a program is, the more revenue they bring in. Big brand, established football schools would be able to pay players more money than other schools trying to recruit the player. This turns college sports into a system that sells the best players to the highest bidder. At one point part of the allure of college sports was the athletes dedication to a school and their tradition, not an NBA or NFL farming program masquerading as a university. This is why many fans enjoy college sports more, an authentic passion for the game can outweigh capitalistic greed and minimal effort shown from many at the highest level.

   However, I do not believe the current rules are going to be sustainable long term as attitudes of players, coaches, and fans change. While I do not believe college players should be paid for playing for a university, I do support college players making money through autographs, jersey sales, and likeness in a video game. That is a different situation because it does not destroy recruiting, allows players to make extra money, and would bring the EA Sports NCAA Football series back. This is different because when other people make money off the likeness of an individual, an ethical crisis is created. There is also benefits for fans, such as being able to play NCAA video games, get autographs directly from the source, and be able to wear authentic jerseys with player names on it. I am not against college athletes making money, I am only against ruining the sports we all love so that schools like Alabama and Duke can become even more dominant than they already are. Ruin is the only foreseeable outcome if 18 year olds are paid exorbitant salaries by schools for playing college sports.

By Ethan Irish

   Imagine working so hard for money for a university to receive none in return. Paying college athletes has become a hot topic in the sports world. Over the last decade the demands put on college athletes have drastically increased. During this same period of time, the universities’ revenue has risen. For various reasons, college athletes deserve to be paid.

   Many people would argue that college athletes already get enough benefits like schoolpaid for, free clothes, and free meals. Another example, less popular sports like swimming do not earn money, so why pay players instead of whole programs that are struggling to survive? It would tough to pay these players because they are not the sports that bring in money. People also believe that many of these kids do not need the extra money because they have money already. Although these are solid reasons there are many kids that struggle financially before getting to college and receive a full ride scholarship.  

   However, many student athletes come to the university with little to no money and do not have have time to find a job. It is also thought to be too difficult to pay these athletes.. Also, NCAA brings in so much money from all of the student athletes and these players receive no compensation for it.

   They should receive compensation is because being a student athlete is a huge commitment and it is very time consuming. For example, players have workouts and training sessions in the offseason as well as having them in season. Also, many sports are known to compete just as hard in the off season as they do in season. The in season schedule is just as time consuming, if not more time consuming, than the off-season. During the season, players have to take the same full course load that other students on campus do. In addition to that, players have to attend practices, film sessions, training meals, as well as mandatory study hall, all on top of traveling and games. In a survey conducted by the NCAA in 2011, Division 1 football players spent on average 43 hours a week on athletics. Ultimately, to be a student athlete is a student’s  decision and they should make the smarter decision for themselves, but it is a lot of players’ dreams to play college sports.

    Another reason student athlete compensation is necessary is because certain college sports generate tremendous amounts of revenue. One way the universities earn revenue is through television contracts. In 2011, March Madness created a $10.8 billion contract with CBS and Turner Sports to televise the NCAA tournament from 2011 to 2024. Almost $11 billion for three weekends of a year for 13 years. The NCAA is making all this money from CBS and Turner Sports because of these athletes and the fact they get nothing for their performance in the tournament especially when millions of people are watching the tournament for these players and are cheering them on. In addition to this contract, the Big Ten Network, a channel for a power five conference, produces $32 million per year for their services televising games and other background stories on different players. They use the channel to talk about different players and making money for it, which is unethical in my opinion if the players do not get some money for it.

  Although many people think these students that play sports receive way too many benefits already they do not understand the background stories of some of these players or their life at home. Players deserve money for what they do for universities and how much they bring in for the university itself.