“What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right.”
College athletics, whose presence permeates every media outlet today, have evolved a great deal in our society over the last 200 years. Before 1850, intercollegiate sports played little to no role in the daily lives of college students. Since its creation, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (or NCAA - the governing body over college athletics) has grown into a multi-million dollar industry and some experts feel college athletes should begin to benefit more financially from the large revenues being brought in. According to the Oklahoman newspaper, in 2007 the profit from the top five college football teams alone totaled $185.1 million (Who). These staggering profits have led to one of the most hotly contested debates in athletic competition. Should student-athletes be paid for their participation in college sports? If you want to keep sport pure the answer is an emphatic “No!”
Several issues are involved in the heated debate on whether student-athletes should be paid by their institutions for their athletic services. When athletes accept scholarships, they are provided tuition, books, meals, housing, and sometimes graduate assistantship. “These scholarships are upwards of $200,000 and also cover the cost of living and summer classes as well” (Ferlise). Student-athletes may also receive special treatment when it comes to academic issues. For example, many schools offer priority scheduling, tutoring assistance, and excused absences for athletes. Aren’t student-athletes, then, well-compensated already? Athletes are much more privileged individuals, who at a majority of institutions are very well taken care of. Some have almost no needs because of this support. Not to mention, “Athletes are also basically receiving free training to improve their on-field performance, which pays significant dividends when they leave for the pros. Under a single scholarship, football players are receiving both a standard education, which they can utilize if they enter the regular workforce, and a “football education,” which is necessary to make those millions of dollars in the NFL” (Sawhney).
An amateur athlete in our society today is anybody who competes in a sport strictly for the love of the game and not for any personal monetary values. “Payment for actual gameplay is the fundamental difference between professional and amateur status, so, college athletes should not receive anything more than scholarships” (Cassavaugh). If paid, a student no longer is an amateur. He becomes a professional. Compensating players compromises the purity of sport, where competitors sacrifice and dedicate themselves to a sport, all for a title and not for pay. They play because of an inner drive, total devotion, pride of wanting to be the best, and just a love for the game. In 1980 a group of college hockey players tried their luck on the ice facing staggering odds for the internal desire to be the best, not because of any money thrown their way. The U.S. Olympic Men’s Hockey team, composed of college athletes and long shot pros, won the Gold medal by defeating a Russian program that had dominated the Olympics since 1964. The Russians had seven players from the 1976 Olympic team and another who had played in three prior Olympiads. Former executive director of U.S.A. Hockey Dave Ogrem said, “It’s the most transcending moment in the history of our sport in this country” (Allen). This motley crew of young, college athletes came together from all walks of life, not as a means of getting paid, but simply playing for the love of the game. If the NCAA began to pay athletes, some of the beauty and heart that athletes depict when they compete would be lost and replaced with greed.
Colleges profit from merchandising, broadcast rights, and endorsements. It sounds like a good idea to share that with the students. After all, they are the ones