Should Amateur Athletes Be Paid?

Table of Content

The involvement of agents and boosters in collegiate level sports has become a major topic amongst headlines in news recently. If you were to pick any athletic program at random it is most likely that they have committed some sort of a violation. Many people argue that college athletes should not be paid because they receive scholarships that pay for their meals, housing, tuition, books, and so on. At some universities, these scholarships equal up to $200,000 over a four year period. Although it would seem as though these scholarships pay for most of an athletes college expenses, they really do not.

Many athletes need help in order to pay for other things such as: food, transportation, clothes, and other daily needs. The bigwigs making the rules for the NCAA are well off individuals who have most likely never lived on a budget. Being a collegiate athlete is a full time job along side with completing their schoolwork, which does not leave very much time for the athlete to have an external form of income leaving them on a tight budget. Collegiate athletes should be able to receive extra benefits and compensation when necessary if it is regulated by the NCAA and not done under the table.

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Since the NCAA began, all athletes have been recognized as amateurs therefore are unable to receive any form of benefits or compensation for their lost wages. All the while the coaches are being paid millions of dollars and their athletic programs bring in large amounts of money. The NCAA is one of the most hypocritical institutions around. Oklahoma State, in the 2007-2008 football season, was 10th in the nation with revenue being brought in at $88,554,438 (ESPN. com). This amount is brought in solely from the football program and not including the other athletic programs that Oklahoma State offers.

With most of that revenue going towards paying for their equipment, traveling expenses, and paying the staff, but the athletes receive none of this income. With nearly 89 million dollars coming in, the players should be able to receive small amounts of money over a month long period in place of a part time job to to help pay for their food and personal items. Scholarship players may have meal plans but the plans tend to run out quickly. Also with some campuses not having a wide variety of healthy food options, having to consistently eat the same thing gets old quickly.

Allowing the athletes to have a small form of outside income will provide them with the items necessary for every day life that are not provided in campus stores. Anyone who is a sports fan has heard about Cam Newton, AJ Green and the Ohio State football players this past season, as well as Dez Bryant here at OSU the season before. Cam Newton’s father was allegedly offering his son’s commitment to play football for $180,000. While the Ohio State players and AJ Green were signing memorabilia and selling it for money and for tattoos.

In all these cases the NCAA fails to lay down a similar consequence for all of these violations. Cam Newton played the entire season and went on to receive the Heisman Trophy. Newton insisted that he did it the right way telling AP sports writer Fred Goodall “I’m a person that did no wrong, I did it the right way. ” (Goodall). AJ Green was suspended for the first four games of the season for signing jerseys of his and selling them. The Ohio State players were accused of the same thing as AJ Green weeks before the Sugar Bowl but were still able to play.

Dez Bryant simply had lunch with Deion Sanders an ex NFL player/agent and was suspended for an entire season at Oklahoma State before declaring for the NFL draft. How could a group of players that were accused of similar things receive such different penalties? These sanctions dished out by the NCAA can be confusing and devastating as in Southern Methodist University’s case. SMU was an elite football program during the mid 70s to mid 80s until they were caught using a “slush fund” which was used for paying players and recruits under the table.

The NCAA handed down a severe penalty by canceling their entire 1987 season, and SMU decided to not field a team in 1988 as well, due to the severity of the penalty. The mustangs had only one winning season over the next 20 years and are still no where near they once were. This sanction would also go on to deflate one of the best conferences in football at the time, which no longer exists, the Southwestern Conference. With players able to receive some kind of benefits and compensation this situation could most likely of been avoided.

Many other student athletes have been accused of the same thing and a lot of them say they did it for extra cash for things such as, going out to eat, going to a movie, taking a girl on a date, everyday things that a lot of us take for granted. In a June 24th, 1996 issue of The NCAA News, ” Studies indicate that 75 percent of underclassmen have received cash or gifts from an agent. Thats a pretty high number, three out of every four are involved in illegal activities involving agents, and 90 percent of projected first round draft picks have had contact with an agent. (Wulf).

This statistic shows the rules in place are not taken very seriously and a change is in need. If the NCAA would share revenue with the athletes I believe much of this corruption would decrease. As the Retriever Weekly journalist Royce Jeffrey suggests the NCAA must change something up in the near future: “Is the NCAA simply going to continue to sanction schools, force them to erase their history books, and strip players of records and awards forever? As the pot of money grows bigger every year from TV deals and merchandise, the violations grow as well.

The punishments obviously are not stopping the crimes, so will the NCAA crack down even harder or come up with a new strategy that allows the paying of players in some form for their services rendered? ” (Jeffrey). A few months ago a lawsuit was brought to the NCAA by a former UCLA student athlete Ed O’Bannon trying to gain annual revenue for student athletes. The lawsuit states that the NCAA violates federal antitrust laws when their likenesses and images are allowed by the NCAA. As in television advertisements, video games, apparel and other products.

Amateurism rules prevent current college players from earning money from their names or likenesses, but lawyers for O’Bannon have argued that those rules should not apply to former athletes. On the flip side there is a good argument that paying amateur athletes would cause them to lose their title as amateurs and a connection to all of us as Bill Plaschke states, “But the beauty of college athletics lies directly in this paradox, a nation drawn to the idea of professional games played by amateurs, millions cheering for superstars in letter sweaters, inspiration athed in innocence. If you pay the players, that aura is gone, and with it, a sports experience that is singularly passionate and uniquely American. Rationally, it would make sense to pay college athletes, But college athletics is one of the most irrational parts of American life. ” (Plaschke). On top of that there is an argument that payment of players would result in less money for other athletic programs, staff, and other needs of the University. If lesser revenue athletic programs were to lose funding they could potentially be dropped.

If this were to happen, many scholarships could be lost and a title IX disaster for many schools could very well happen. As well as the focus should be more on towards receiving an education rather not getting paid. This goes along well with the Sweatshop reading. The reading says “It should be noted that sweatshops are not universally condemned. Low-wage plants making apparel and shoes for export are hailed by some as a sign of industrial progress, a necessary first step toward prosperity in developing countries, and far preferable to unemployment or alternative work, for example, prostitution. (Kristof & WuDunn) Just as there are two sides to whether players should receiver extra benefits or not. Some say the scholarship is enough, others say universities are exploiting the athletes to make millions of dollars while the athletes see none of that money.

Meeting with agents, accepting cash from boosters, bribing universities with the pay for play method, all these under the table activities athletes are engaging in relate to the alternative work the reading speaks of. Players being paid would be a sign of progress, and a necessary first step in eliminating those “alternatives. Receiving a scholarship is better off for the athlete than not receiving one, but still the fact they may struggle to get by on a small budget can not be ignored. With as many allegations and accusations going around, many of them could be put to rest with a percentage share or a stipend with the athletes per month. The sports have lost enough innocence with as many athletes that already accept extra benefits. Sure the athletes receive free tuition, meals, and housing, but many come from poor backgrounds and need extra benefits in order for every day things that we all take for granted. College sports would be better off if athletes were paid.

Works Cited

Jeffrey, Royce. “Why every student should know college sports scandals. ” The Retriever Weekly. 9 November 2010. Web. 19 February 2011. Kristof & WuDunn. “Shopping With a Social Conscience: Consumer Attitudes Toward Sweatshop Labor. ” The Global Sweatshop Issue. 2000. Plaschke, Bill. “Should College Athletes Get Paid Beyong Scholarship? ” Chicagonow. 3 December 2010. Web. 19 February 2011. Wulf, Steve. “Collegiate Athletes Being Paid. ” Home Page. 16 April. 2008. Web. 19 February 2011.

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Should Amateur Athletes Be Paid?. (2017, Feb 23). Retrieved from

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