The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has a booming business, as Division I colleges all around the nation have signed lucrative deals that pay respective colleges large sums of money. For example, the Pac- 12 Conference, which hosts powerhouse colleges such as USC, UCLA and Oregon, generates about $250 million per year from television revenue alone. In a digital age, it seems that the market is turning toward colleges generating more revenue from not only television deals but also through commercials and other media outlets. With so much incoming revenue going through colleges, the question has been asked, “Should student athletes get paid for their services on the field?”
This may pose a silly question for some, but over the past couple years, the issue surrounding money and collegiate athletes has picked up steam. Television networks, shoe companies and even video games make millions of dollars of profit from the work of an “unpaid” collegiate athlete. So why then hasn’t some of the revenue being made from these athletes gone directly to them?
While one side of this argument will tell you that collegiate athletes deserve to get a partial sum of money for their hard work off the field, I beg to ask the question: Aren’t collegiate athletes getting paid well enough as it is?
Sure, student athletes don’t get anything of monetary value that the college gets from television deals, nor do they receive anything significant from their faces being a part of a video game sold by a mega game developer like Electronic Arts. However, collegiate athletes do get paid in the form of scholarships.
Think of it like this: at USC, one of the major powerhouses in collegiate sports, the undergraduate tuition fee is $21,861 for a single semester. For a year, this can total up to $43,722, excluding housing and dining fees.
Throughout collegiate sports, athletes are able to bypass this fee completely or even pay a large sum of it off through scholarships. Not only do scholarships help an athlete pay off tuition, but athletes are also given a nutritionist and a strength coach that many would pay a lot of money for to get in shape. Although the money may not be directly given to students through the form of a check or cash, collegiate athletes are actually paid handsomely through scholarships.
An aspect that separates collegiate sports from the professional level is the passion with which student athletes play the sport. What makes college sports so special is the raw emotion and passion that student athletes possess. In the professional level, many athletes seem to lack that passion, as the millions of dollars they make take their true desire and passion away from the game. Paying student athletes may ultimately lead to complacency, as a base salary in college may take away from their passion in sports and their drive to make it to the professional level.
In a scenario where student athletes are paid, would it make sense to pay all the players the same? Would one position player make more than the other? Would football players make more than swimmers or wrestlers? Distributing how much money goes to collegiate athletes would stir another debate and may even change the landscape of how we view sports.
It may make sense for collegiate athletes to get paid, considering the lucrative deals that colleges receive because of the athletes’ work. However, keep the system as is, and continue to pay college athletes who are still considered “amateurs” through scholarships, media exposure and also training to make it to the professional level.
Photo by Lois Blanco on Flickr.com.