The Duke Debates: Should college athletes be paid? (Part one)
No pay to play!
Published: Thursday, April 14, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, October 11, 2011 10:10
College athletes spend an average of 30-40 hours each week participating in athletic obligations. This would be considered a full-time job outside of college. But, these individuals are student-athletes and are first and foremost a student of a university, and should not be paid.
There are about 420,000 student athletes in the United States, and only 140,000 athletic scholarships available to the students that compete in athletic competition. This leaves many students in dire need of money for both educational and personal purposes.
There are only four sports that offer "full" scholarships: men's basketball, football, women's basketball and women's volleyball. These scholarships are not even full rides; the NCAA does not allow colleges and universities to give out scholarships that equal the full amount of attendance. This leaves students having to not only pay for school, but also for personal items that every college students wants and needs.
Schools make an extremely large amount of money off of their athletes each year. The 2005-2006 Texas Longhorns football team made $42 million. This is an extreme example, but most schools do make a pretty penny off their student-athletes. And the money that the teams make should somehow be recycled back to them.
But instead of paying them a cash salary, why not put the money toward more school scholarships for student-athletes? The NCAA is also working on funneling profits into a fund that could potentially grow to $750 million for scholarships and personal expenses of athletes and athletic departments.
There is a certain brilliance and hard-working excellence that the amateur athletes bring to sports. Not paying student-athletes also helps with the integrity of college sports. The students are competing because they love to, not to get an increase in pay grade.
Another question that arises is, does everyone get paid the same, or does skill level matter? Giving certain players more money could cause issues within the team dynamic, which in turn could affect their sucess. Do you give certain sports more money than others because of the revenue they generate? Do you give male athletes more than female athletes for the same reason? These are all questions that a university would face when considering paying their athletes.
College athletes should be compensated for their time and effort in their collective sports. Instead of paying an athlete in cash, the college and university need to reward the athletes through more financial aid. A student's first obligation at college is to receive an education. Paying students for playing a sport could seriously undermine the "student" part of student-athlete.
There are many ways for student-athletes to receive additional financial backing. The NCAA just approved some student-athletes to participate in work-study programs. There are also loans and grants available to all students that attend a college or university.
Paying students to play a sport also takes away from the main reason that amateur athletes compete: the love of the game and the desire to increase their skills. The exact time when sports stopped being about the love of the game and became about money cannot really be determined, but it will be a sad day when student-athletes do get paid personal monetary supplements. This would mean the end of amateur athletics that is full of ambition, passion and determination. Who wants to watch as college sports become a mediocre version of professional sports?
Student-athletes must sink a great amount of hard work and dedication into their beloved sports before it is right or necessary for them to receive monetary salaries. Until then, I'll enjoy watching students work their butts off to earn, grow and develop into professional and paid players.