For a long time, college sporting events have received special interests from various sector of the economy. This is because sports not only form part of the mainstream entertainment, but also contribute in income generation in many ways. For this reason, many institutions have taken a lead role in encouraging students to participate in sporting events. In the same note, government authorities have also established bodies that oversee such events. It is for the later reason that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) was developed in the US in order to coordinate sporting in various categories of educational institutions. As a reciprocation, bodies like NCAA offer scholarship programs to the students in order to further their studies. However, the NCAA in particular has received wide criticism in the recent past for rather exploitative approaches in managing college sports.
The NCAA claims that the corporation was started in order to protect student athletes from exploitative practices. However, the organization continues to make billions of dollars while refusing to allow the athletes themselves to benefits from their efforts, something that not only seems exploitative but also bares resemblance to a system of slavery. Although NCAA Division I athletes are held to similar standards, maintain similar schedules, and bring in similar revenue as professional athletes, they are forced to live in poverty and dependence in the name of amateurism. The NCAA states that it is because students are provided with full scholarships that are sufficiently compensated; however, few students have the means to support themselves independently while pursuing their education. In addition, according to the NCAA’s amateurism rules, the organization prohibits athletes from using their own names, likeness, or popularity to make money. Although the institutions, colleges and NCAA do not owe any responsibility to the athletes other than athletic scholarships and medical insurance, student athletes should be able to capitalize on their popularity and profit financially from other opportunities.
In order to understand the arguments presented in this paper, it is important to first highlight the main reasons that led to the formation NCAA. One of the main reasons for NCAA establishment was the need to protect athletic students from exploitative and dangerous practices. According to the official NCAA website, following the 1905 season alone, which saw the death of 18 college and amateur players, the then president, Theodore Roosevelt, summoned 13 football representatives in his office to discuss the approaches of avoiding such occurrences in the future (). It is from a series of such meeting that led to the formation of NCAA, which was largely tasked with the role of formulating rules for the college games.
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More importantly, the NCAA took up the role of supporting education through scholarship programs. As indicated earlier, the primary goal of the NCAA was to promote healthy sporting activities among college athletes. As such, the NCAA was closely affiliated to educational institutions, hence the extended role in promoting academics. In order to achieve this, the organization has set minimum requirements for students wishing to be part of the beneficiaries. As an additional package, NCAA also provides medical care and first-class training opportunities. The end result is that the organization has led to more student-athletes graduating from a number of affiliated institutions, even if they do not have sufficient financial backgrounds to support their educational ambition. Additionally, the approach used by the NCAA enables students to harness skills on time management, leadership and the importance of working toward a common goal (team building).
Although there was an ambitious objective when establishing the NCAA, the organization has faced serious criticism in the recent past owing to a number of factors. To start with, college athletes are not paid for their contributions in any sporting events. As it is well known, athletic activities require not only persistent training but also personal initiatives in order to make them a success. This is because a significant portion of activities sponsored by the NCAA require that the participants remain in active body states for a significant period of time, hence involves energy depletions. In addition, although the NCAA provides articulate rules of engaging in the activities, there are chances that athletes may get injured in one way or another. Therefore, it is important that the organization acknowledges the effort and risks undertaken by the participants by providing some form of direct reward, such as compensation based on the games participated and outcomes.
Another aspect that has brought about sharp criticism is the fact that at some point, the organization (NCAA) required that participating college athletes to sign a declaration giving up their publicity rights without compensation. It is a common phenomenon where celebrities, some of whom are mainly drawn from sporting sectors, are used to endorse market products or programs in order to promote acceptance. Consequently, the NCAA has in the past taken the advantage of the aforementioned declaration and used some of the popular college athletes in signing contracts with other organization that benefited them only. For instance, UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon sued the organization for using his image in an NCAA-branded video game (Wire, 2015).Ed O’Bannon sued NCAA for this and was compensated to a tune of $60 million by the organization together with the video producer. This clearly indicates that the approach adopted by the NCAA to deprive college athlete rights is ill-intended and should be revised to ensure that participant can also receive some form of compensation.
To make the matter worse, the NCAA not only restricts the use of athletic popularity to gain compensation but also restricts college athletes from using their names to make money. Apart from participating in college athletes, many students would like to have an opportunity in which they can make some money for their own. In particular, owing to the popularity of college games, some college athletes have attracted publicity, which can be a platform for self-development. For instance, many brands would like to be associated with outstanding players in order to attract buyers. If such players are approached by the interested organizations, they stand a better chance to make multi-million contracts that could change their lives. However, NCAA has always cut short such opportunities for the athletes. This is mainly through allegiance to maintain a declaration forbidding them from undertaking such ventures.
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Although the primary objective of college students is to graduate at the end of their study time, many students have also played a key role in uplifting charity events in the society. In the full time sporting field, many athletes provide charity fees, something that uplifts social status of community members. This is because they are able to make attractive proceeds associated with their athletic popularity. For instance, famous players such as David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo, have active foundations that are involved in various charity works, events and causes. This has not been the case for college athletes, even when they have attracted international attention and are able to sign contracts that could reward them hefty. College athletes are better placed in promoting college charity events if paid by the NCAA. This is because they have better relations with other students (who might be needy) and the society. Therefore, NCAA should rethink its approach of limiting college athletes in generating revenues through sports popularity for the better good of not only the sports participants, but also the society.
Of more significance, the NCAA has gone ahead and signed multi-million contracts with other organizations. As indicated earlier in this discussion, NCAA’s primary objective during its establishment was to manage college sports in order to reduce negative outcomes and encourage participants. This means that the NCAA should not have taken the opportunity to generate income like normal companies. For instance, NCAA has entered into a 14- year, 10.8 billion dollar contract with CBS for the DI national championship in basketball alone (NCAA, 2010). This is an indication of how much the organization rakes in across board of all the college sporting activities. It is only prudent if NCAA utilized some of the revenues generated to compensate the players as a form of motivation.
Of more interest is that NCAA accomplishes itself as a non-profit organization, hence receiving some form of preferential treatment. The primary goals of non-profit organization are to accomplish a common not-for-profit goal/objective without considering profit making for its members. It can be argued that at the time of its formation, the NCAA adopted the non-profit model by only focusing on improving the quality of college sports. It is also agreeable that the organization purposed to sponsor the education for college athletes, which is in line with the organization mission. However, excessive revenues obtained from contracts with other organization have brought the NCAA under scrutiny. In addition, the NCAA is tax exempted for being a non-profit organization with a good course for the community people (Colombo, 2009). Obviously, this is bound to attract criticism, owing to the fact that NCAA utilizes every opportunity to generate revenues; contracts with broadcasters and video producers.
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NCAA has for a long time worked as a monopoly when it comes to college games management. Monopolistic approach to the management of college sports has made college athletes to miss out on the best deals. In particular, there are is no other organization that oversees college sports, making the NCAA have the opportunity to roll out their objectives unopposed. If college sports were conducted in a free market, competition among the interested parties would lead to more benefits among the sports people. For instance, college players with outstanding performances would be in apposition to sign lucrative deals with sporting organizations. In addition, college athletes would also be in apposition to enrich themselves through publicity.
In the same note, the NCAA has always considered college athletes as armatures in their games. It is generally agreeable that it takes time to develop college students for gaming competitions. However, as athletes participate in more games, they are able to perfect their skills to those of professional players (NPR, 2015). Similarly, big brands, such as the CBS Sports and Turner Broadcasting cannot agree to air sports that are at armature levels in their channels. As such, college athletes should be considered as qualified professional players, hence deserving some sought of compensation for having participated in the games.
On the other hand, there tangible reasons as to why NCAA should not pay the college athletes. To start with, NCAA invests heavily in sponsoring the education for college athletes. For one to be accepted to participate in college sports and earn a college scholarship, he/she must have good GPAs from the high school. This is an important aspect as it not only promotes education through financing, but also encourages students to work harder in their studies. More importantly, college students are trained on how to become good time managers by balancing their studies and sporting activities. It is noteworthy pointing out that through this approach; NCAA also provides opportunity for hard working students from poor backgrounds to advance their education, thereby making it a worthy course (Holland & Schoen, 2014). In this case, considering the amount of college fees for the four years, it can be argued that NCAA spends considerable amounts on scholarship programs, which can be equated to compensation for the athletes.
Although NCAA seems to make more money through contracts, the organization may not be better placed to pay all the athletes and doing so would also affect some of its objectives. As highlighted before, NCAA has been quoted to enter into agreement with major companies that generate large amounts of cash. However, it is notable that not every sporting activity attracts such agreements. For instance, it is known that men’s basketball and football play a significant role in subsidizing the other sports (NCAA, 2017). In addition, the finances obtained from the said contracts are used in providing scholarships, medical support and management of the organization. This means that there are more expenditures that need to be financed in order to support the organization mission.
In conclusion, student athletes should be able to capitalize on their popularity and profit financially from other opportunities. Although NCAA plays an important role in the management of college sports, the organization needs to re-think its approach in order to motivate college athletes and avoid public criticism. It is notable that college athletes can be able to attain professional status, considering that they are able to attract wide followership from the public. As such, they stand a better chance of benefiting from their popularity, hence gain some income. There is also need to open the college sports management to the free market in order to ensure that college athletes get the best deals in the market.
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- Colombo. (2009). The NCAA, Tax Exemption and College Athletics. Retrieved from https://pennstatelaw.psu.edu/_file/NCAA26.pdf
- Holland, K and Schoen, J.W. (2014). Think athletic scholarships are a ‘holy grail’? Think again. CNBC. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2014/10/13/think-athletic-scholarships-are-a-holy-grail-think-again.html
- NCAA. (2010). CBS Sports, Turner Broadcasting, NCAA Reach 14-Year Agreement. Retrieved from http://www.ncaa.com/news/basketball-men/2010-04-21/cbs-sports-turner-broadcasting-ncaa-reach-14-year-agreement
- NCAA. (2017). How We Support College Athletes. Retrieved from http://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/media-center/ncaa-101/how-we-support-college-athletes
- NPR. (2015). How Likely Is It, Really, That Your Athletic Kid Will Turn Pro? Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/09/04/432795481/how-likely-is-it-really-that-your-athletic-kid-will-turn-pro
- Wire, S. (2015). NCAA ordered to pay $46 million in Ed O’Bannon Lawyers fees. Retrieved from https://www.si.com/college-basketball/2015/07/14/ncaa-46-million-judgment-antitrust-lawsuit