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College athletes have been making millions for their schools, yet they have not been making money at an individual level. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA, 2014) oversees intercollegiate sports. This body imposed a rule banning college athletes from being paid. Despite many colleges still making money off athletes, the NCAA justifies this move on the pretext that it aims to protect amateurism. In addition, they need to differentiate professional athletes from student-athletes. However, recently, college athletes gained the right to earn from their names, images, and likeness (Knoester, C., & Ridpath, B. D., 2020). With such changes, students still do not earn a salary like professional athletes. While paying college athletes seems like the most reasonable thing to do, the spiral effects on the future of amateur sports and the career developments of such athletes would be too catastrophic. Therefore, there is a need to stick with the NCAA’s current amendments and regulations for the sake of the future of college athletics.
Athletes Should Be Paid
College athletes should be paid for various reasons. First, most college athletes come from low-income families, and most will not have the opportunity to play professionally. Therefore, it is unfair for colleges to make money from athletes who might not be able to make money for themselves later on. According to the NCAA (2014), less than two percent of NCAA college athletes manage to play professionally. These students have to depend on academics to succeed in life after college. Therefore, it is only fair for them to make money from something that takes up most of their time in college since they can hardly get the chance to play professionally.
College athletes take significant risks to play while in college; paying them will help them earn the pride, respect, and fortunes of playing. However, that is not the case, as college sports put athletes and their future earnings at risk because once they are involved in life-changing injuries, their dreams of playing are shuttered forever. Lemoyne et al. (2017) argue that seven percent of college athletes reported having no injuries. Therefore, it is unfair for these students to risk their lives and livelihoods while not getting any payment for taking those risks and the sacrifices they make. Such sacrifices call for the need to pay to make their risks worthwhile.
College students should be paid because playing equals working. Taking part in intercollegiate athletics takes up as much time and energy as working a full-time job. According to a survey by NCAA, most college athletes devote an average of 35 hours per week during sports season (Jacobs, 2015). This is equal to a person working a regular job yet not earning. In addition, sports take college athletes away from their studies, which means that these students do not have the time to achieve good grades and prepare themselves for the competitive job market.
Athletes Should Not Be Paid
College athletes should not be paid because they already receive full scholarships to study. While other students have to go through the pressure of paying exorbitant fees and debts for many years, college athletes do not have to worry about the cost of college education (Sanderson & Siegfried, 2015). In addition, most colleges spend more money on sports than they receive from the income generated by the athletes. Therefore, college athletes should not be paid because their colleges have already reduced the burden of paying expensive college fees.
The amateurism associated with college athletics will erode once college athletes start being paid. According to the NCAA, there is a need to distinguish professional athletes from college athletes (NCAA, 2014). As much as college athletes practice and play for many hours during the season, they do not have the same rigorous sessions as professional athletes. Moreover, college athletes are expected to be in class and balance academics with their sport such that one does not suffer (Knoester & Ridpath, 2020). If college athletes were to be paid like professional athletes, they would not focus on academics, which means that it would no longer be amateur sports, but professional sports practiced in the institutions.
Paying college athletes will send a bad message to high school athletes who would also demand to be paid. Many children who play sports in high school would want to be paid because their college counterparts are paid as well. This fact undercuts the lessons taught in school about pursuing one’s talents because everyone would like to participate in college sports regardless of their abilities, passion, and talent (Lumpkin, 2017). Thus, students should remain students and enjoy the benefits of being involved in sports instead of wanting to be professional athletes while still in college.
College students do so much for their schools by bringing in revenue and putting their institutions on the map. The pros and cons of college athletes being paid almost have the same weight because the points are all so valuable. The move by NCAA to pay them for their names, images, and likeness is a great starting point toward providing college athletes with benefits other than scholarships. Accomplishing this aim maintains the spirit of amateur sporting while providing the athletes with much-needed resources for their sacrifices.
- Jacobs, P. (2015). Here’s The Insane Amount Of Time Student-Athletes Spend On Practice. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/college-student-athletes-spend-40-hours-a-week-practicing-2015-1?r=US&IR=T
- Knoester, C., & Ridpath, B. D. (2020). Should college athletes be allowed to be paid? A public opinion analysis. Sociology of Sport Journal, 38(4), 399-411. https://doi.org/10.1123/ssj.2020-0015
- Lemoyne, J., Poulin, C., Richer, N., & Bussières, A. (2017). Analyzing injuries among university-level athletes: prevalence, patterns and risk factors. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 61(2), 88.
- Lumpkin, A. (2017). Commercialism in college sports undermines athletes’ educational opportunities and rights. College athletes’ rights and well-being: Critical perspectives on policy and practice, 101-112.
- NHFS. (2014). NCAA Recruiting Facts. Retrieved from https://www.nfhs.org/media/886012/recruiting-fact-sheet-web.pdf
- Sanderson, A. R., & Siegfried, J. J. (2015). The case for paying college athletes. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 29(1), 115-38. https://doi.org/10.1257/jep.29.1.115