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Should College Athletes Be Paid? Yes!…Well, Kind Of.

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With the College Football Bowl games right around the corner, and the fact that the participants will earn their schools upwards of $12 million, the question about whether student athletes should be paid comes to light again. That is not a mistype; the four teams in the college playoff will earn around $12 million for their school. Zero of those dollars will be given directly back to those athletes whom actually participate in the games. The institutions I’m sure will use the money to further advance their athletic programs, thus returning it to the players, but not directly. On top of the money the bowls bring in, big college programs make over $7 million a home game, $7.15 million to be exact according to Ohio State University statistics. Needless to say college football and college athletics in general is a billion dollar industry. Yet, college athletes do not see a dime of that money while in school. And I am here to say that, I’m ok with it.  

            The common misconception is that even though these athletes receive tens of thousands of dollars in free education, books and supplies, room and board, and meal plans, they still have no spending money in order to enjoy their college life. This simply is not true. Built into their scholarships, these athlete students (let’s not fool ourselves by calling these kids student athletes), receive a couple hundred dollars a month in gas, food, and miscellaneous expense money, in which no other student is entitled too. Therefore let’s not cry foul and weep for these individuals. They receive perks no other “normal” student will ever have the opportunity to be given. They are a privileged group, let’s not kid ourselves.

            People argue that because they are forced to go to college and cannot pursue a career in the professional sport of their choosing, they should be compensated for the money they bring in. My counter to that is how many other professions are you essentially “forced” to go to college for? If you want to be a doctor, dentist, teacher, do you not have to go to college? Plus with those professions, you cannot leave after one or two years like with professional sports. In all likelihood, you’ll have to attend college for longer than four years. College is designed to build your skill and further your craft. This is true whether you plan on being a doctor or a football player. The gray area in all this is the money these athletes make for their institutions. As I stated, college sports is a billion dollar industry. None of this money could be made if not for the players. Therefore, I have come up with an idea on how to make all parties happy in the argument of paying college athletes.

            My idea is simple, yet overlooked by those making the decisions in college sports. Pay the athletes after they graduate college. Every athlete under scholarship, from the Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, all the way down to the captain of the men’s and women’s swimming team should get a percentage of the money the athletic department brings in. The percentage for each scholar athlete should be the same, but the money will be determined by how much each sport makes. Meaning if the percentage determined is .5%, football players will get their percentage from what the football program brings in, whereas men’s lacrosse will get their .5% from whatever money their sport brings in. Obviously then, football players and basketball players will make more money than almost any other sport, as I think it should be. The players inside each sport should get a percentage of the merchandise their numbers and portraits earn. Again, to clarify, this means that Candice Parker, when she was at Tennessee, would have made more money from her merchandise then any of the other players on her team. All the money they earn will then be put into an account. The athletes get this money upon graduating from the institution. The key word there is graduating. Consequently, if an athlete leaves early to go into their given sport’s draft, they lose the right to that money. According to statistics, less than 2% of scholarship athletes will actually play professional sports. That means 98% will have to find a career in another profession. The money they earned will be a nice start for them once they graduate.

            This solution is not perfect by any means. The percentage the athletes make will have to be determined in order for the school to remain a strong financial institution. Dividing the money among all the athletes could get complicated. However, I feel this is an idea that could solve a lot of the debate we have. The athletes will receive compensation for the money they earned for their school, but also it provides incentive for those to remain in school and graduate. Giving money to these athletes while they are still attending the college or university may send the wrong message or image. College kids do not need to be driving around in expensive cars or wearing expensive clothes they bought with the money they earned playing college football. Besides, isn’t that what the boosters are for? 

Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Mike Banyasz

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