Isn’t that the question? It’s all the talk these days for college athletics. Articles posted regularly with such convincing arguments for why student athletes should get paid while they are using their talents to earn the schools they attend and the NCAA for that matter and insane amount of money. Now, I am no expert on college finances, nor have I been in the position of a student athlete, so I am only speaking opinions here. With that said, the opinions that I have to a large extent reflects logic to the ideas on pay for play. Now that I have cleared that up with a disclaimer, lets begin. In a long list of reasons athletes should be compensated, some experts state that athletes spend 43 plus hours per week in their respective sport. This in turn limiting the amount of time to hold a job when class schedule and homework are thrown into the equation. This, along with the amount of money certain high end athletes make the NCAA and universities in apparel sales, can be said to be the two most debated motives for why athletes should be paid.
To many, this is enough evidence to convince the peanut gallery to pay student athletes, but before you make up your mind completely lets look at the other side of the argument. Being a student athlete is stressful and that is an understatement. The amount of work and time that goes into what these kids do is otherworldly. From long practices to dissecting film leading up to game day, it is a full time job in its self. But with all that said, lets go deeper than just what we see on the surface. It is very easy to see all the things that a student athlete does on a day-to-day basis and over look or ignore what we do not see. Lets start with the main factor, Scholarships. According to usnews.com, for the University of Alabama, out of state tuition per semester is $29,950.00. Lets do some simple math here. That means a four-year stint with the Crimson Tide will cost roughly $183,600.00. That is not chump change. For most college students that is years and years of paying off student loans, yet the majority of high profile athletic departments give their athletes the privilege of a scholarship. Not only do these athletes get a top-notch education, but also their “payment” so to speak is to do what they love, play the sport they feel they were born to play. If you ask me, that seems like a pretty fair deal.
Aside from the education that these athletes receive, they are also getting much more in return for their talents. A matter of fact, they get free training to help advance those talents. We are talking about professional coaching, conditioning and fitness coaching, physical therapist, nutritionist, tutoring, and the list could go on and on. Try and calculate how much just one of these things would cost per month, these athletes receive them at no extra charge. The over all amount of money a given university spends on an individual athlete is astonishing and yet, they are crying that they need compensation or to be reimbursed for the amount of money the schools make on their talents. As I have said before, I take nothing away form these athletes and the amount of work they put in, but where did this overall sense of entitlement come from? A group of student athletes from The University of Northwestern have already won the first leg of a case to unionize and become employees, not just student athletes. A separate case has former athletes suing one of the most popular gaming franchises, EA Sports. They are suing for likeness of players used in the games. So being put in a video game for the world to see and play isn’t flattering? What has happened to being humble and being appreciative? Where has the “I deserve” mentality come from? Have people lost sight of the big picture of what being a student athlete is? The goal is to yes, make it to the next level and play professionally, but the numbers weigh against student athletes. According to a study done in 2012, businessinsider.com reports that a mere 1.7% of college football players will make it to the next level. The highest percentage for a sport is baseball with 11.6% going on to play professionally. Think about those numbers, out of all the universities in the country, a miniscule amount will fulfill their goal of making it to the professional level.
If you ask me, the sense of entitlement should be lost. Regardless of the issues with college athletics at this time. Do I think that student athletes are exploited and that millions are made by the service they provide? Yes I do, but it doesn’t change the fact that it is not what it is about. To me it’s about making an impact with something that you love to do. Everyone has to pay their dues to get where they are going. It’s not going to be handed to you. Is it not good enough to have all the things you need to succeed at your fingertips? Take that free education and take full advantage of it. The numbers are against you to succeed as a pro athlete, so utilize the resources at your disposal so that if being a pro athlete doesn’t go as planned, you have a career ahead of you in something else. To pay or not to pay? You tell me.