‘They get scholarships, don’t they?”
When many of us look at college sports as a way to pass time, we watch the euphoria as the underdog comes out on top and the young athlete gets the final shot right before the buzzer, we never stop to think that this athlete is playing for free. We never stop to think that this player is being exploited by the university they attend and the mega organizations the university is a member of, whose unfair rules affect thousands of student athletes. Student-athletes are essentially unpaid and provide free-labor for this mega organization. This organization is known as the NCAA. There have been ongoing debates between colleges, college athletes and coaches on the topic of paying their athletes. This led to people questioning the role of the NCAA. The NCAA should start paying the student-athletes who are members of the organization what they are worth.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), is an organization founded in 1906 with the purpose of regulating competition between the college and universities that are members of the association. According to the NCAA’s mission statement, “The NCAA is foremost and fundamentally a guardian of the educational experience of the students who attend its member institutions and choose to participate in intercollegiate athletics.” ( qtd. in Davies, 747). The NCAA requires its athletes to be considered as amateurs, referring to them as “student-athletes”. This means that these young men and women are learning life lessons by engaging in intercollegiate athletics (McCormick, 73).
By referring to them as “student-athletes”, the NCAA, colleges and universities are able to profit off of the “free-labor” of student athletes, while the athletes themselves can earn nothing. Because of this, the NCAA is a multi-billion-dollar revenue generator. CBS alone pays the NCAA about 10.8 billion dollars over a 14-year period to own the right to broadcast March Madness, the annual men’s basketball tournament.(Ford). CBS profits from this as well, charging Coca-Cola at least half a billion dollars over the 14-year period to advertise its drinks during the men’s basketball tournament. The athletes playing in these games receive nothing from the NCAA or CBS.
While the NCAA and CBS benefit from the athlete’s talents, college team overseers like coaches, administrators and sports representatives reap the reward of athlete’s labor. Coaches are only as good as the players that make them. In addition to their salary, coaches can make money from endorsements of athletic shoes. Companies will pay team coaches to have their players wear their shoes and give coaches bonuses for it. Mike Krzyzewski is a basketball coach, who served as the head basketball coach for Duke University since 1980. Krzyzewski has earned an extra $375,000 through endorsements of athletic shoes. “But if you split up the $375,000 per year amongst the 15 team members, they would each be paid $25,000 a year.” (Clark). Figures were gathered by Gregg Leslie who is the executive director of the first amendment clinic at ASU. These figures showed how Georgetown University profited off of Patrick Ewing who played for the University. Leslie’s figures show that Ewings’ success as a professional basketball player has concealed the exploitation of college athletes. “The piece, at most, was intended to bring a mild chuckle as you marveled at the tremendously smart ‘investment’ that Georgetown University had made — it had certainly gotten more than its money’s worth from Ewing.”( Clark) Since Patrick Ewing left Georgetown to play professionally, the university hasn’t won any basketball championship or made it to amy semi-final games. For coaches to receive the benefits of these talent-student athletes is unfair when they act as mere guidance to the athletes, and assisting them in training.
Allowing student-athletes to benefit financially from playing on a college team would allow them to have extra money saved up if they were ever injured and can no longer play that sport. Athletes risk shortening their athletic career from injuries every time they step out on the field. If a student-athlete suffers a serious injury that leads to the end of their athletic career, that will also mean the end of their athletic scholarships. Since that student never received any compensation for the time played on the sports team, it can result in him/her withdrawing from college due to financial issues.
College athletes–whether the sport be football, basketball or soccer, spend a profuse amount of time between practice, workout sessions, and games. Being a college athlete can be considered a full-time job, requiring the students to juggle multiple things at once, like attend classes towards their college degree, keep their grades up and strengthen their athletic abilities. Between the rigorous practice and game schedules and their studies, college athletes have little to no time to work a job while under a sports scholarship, causing these athletes to have no money to cover any other expenses like social and extracurricular activities.
People who believe student-athletes don’t need to be compensated for playing a sport refer to the fact that they receive educational benefits like their scholarships. These scholarships usually cover tuition, room and board and books, but compared to the millions of dollars the NCAA and universities earn, this is next to nothing. A full ride to any college or university is nice but these student athletes are worth millions and it is only fair that they are paid like it.