Why college athletes should not be paid


Credit: Jessie Snyder / The Foothill Dragon Press

Nick Zoll

21st century college athletics have grown extremely popular among sports fans, garnering more national attention than ever before. Events such as March Madness and the College Football Playoff have helped the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) become a successful industry. In fact, the yearly revenue of the NCAA is estimated to be just short of $1 billion.

It is no secret that the student athletes are one of the main catalysts for the prosperity of the college sports industry. After all, these individuals participate in rigorous training in order to benefit the NCAA, which raises a debatable question among many. If these athletes put their blood, sweat and tears into their respective sports, should they be rewarded with a portion of the NCAA’s profit?

Even though I am opposed to the idea of paying college athletes, it is still worthy of examination. However, the argument has many flaws and appears illogical from a variety of different standpoints.

First of all, it seems completely unreasonable and near impossible to pay every student athlete, considering that there are a total of 20 sports combined between men and women in Division I. Even if it were possible to achieve this, how would the NCAA decide to distribute the money? Would athletes of different sports receive the same amount? Due to the number of variables, an attempt to accomplish this goal would only create more conflict.

The incentives that come with playing college athletics are extremely beneficial. When considering the privileges of a college athlete, a small paycheck is essentially pointless in the long run.

For example, the extremely talented and successful players create a name for themselves among the media and the sports world. In a way, fame eventually correlates to money for these athletes. Once they leave college, a select group of high-profile athletes are offered the opportunity to play professionally, whether it be in the United States or overseas.

A prime example of this is Deshaun Watson, a quarterback who led Clemson University’s football team to a Division I national championship this year. He did not receive an extra payment for his accomplishments, but instead he will be rewarded in this year’s upcoming NFL Draft, where he is projected to be a top 10 pick. Watson will likely sign a multi-million dollar contract with his respective team to begin his career, and may see the opportunity to earn even more money if he rises to stardom. In addition, Watson has cemented a legacy for himself at Clemson, which would have never been possible without his participation in college sports.

Possibly the greatest benefit of all, the NCAA provides a select group with sports scholarships. Although the number of scholarships given are small (only two percent of college athletes receive them), each one makes an impact on the athlete’s life. A student who may not have been able to afford college would be able to attend due to their athletic abilities.

The argument for paying college athletes tends to fall apart when scholarships are mentioned. Anyways, isn’t a scholarship essentially a paycheck to attend college? A little extra money isn’t really necessary when you already have a part of your expensive education paid for, not even mentioning those with full ride scholarships.

Now consider the college athletes that don’t receive national attention. Most of these individuals play without a scholarship and have to pay full expenses to their respective schools. I’m sure they would push towards the idea of supplying collegiate athletes with a bit of profit, however it clearly isn’t possible. But if they don’t receive any money from playing college sports or at the professional level, then why would they choose to dedicate so much of their time to this?

The answer is simple: these athletes don’t focus on the monetary aspect. Instead, they focus on more important things. They play college sports to experience the camaraderie of being part of a team. They learn valuable lessons about life, such as being humble in winning and being gracious in losing. Most of all, they play for the love of the game and the joy that comes with it.

If you haven’t yet realized, today’s world of sports revolves around money. In professional sports, the ultimate goal of winning a championship has been replaced with the determination to sign a massive contract and acquire as much money as possible. If college athletes were to be paid, their passion for the game may remain the same but their motives would change.

For now, let’s put the logistics of the matter to the side and focus on the morals. By paying these college athletes, we are teaching them that collegiate level sports are more than just an extracurricular activity.

Without question, that alters the competition of college athletics drastically. Of course, there are people with reasonable arguments as to why it would benefit the athletes. Couldn’t these college students benefit from a little extra money? Undeniably they could use it.

However, we would be teaching these amateur athletes to focus more on an extracurricular activity where they would earn money. In college, it is essential to channel most of your energy into schooling, which builds upon your future potential as a student. This yields job opportunities and the chance to be successful, not simply by coincidence.

To the enthusiastic and diehard sports fans everywhere: consider the future of these young men and women before pushing for something that could become an irreversible movement.

Most importantly, to the collegiate athletes in favor of this concept: be careful what you wish for.

What do you think?