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Should Student Athletes Get Paid?

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Collegiate sports, ranging from football to volleyball, have displayed the exceptional talents and efforts of thousands of youth for generations. The sporting teams at universities throughout the nation offer opportunities to talented individuals, giving them the shot to perform on national television. Both the excitement and pressure these youths experience prove the athletes’ potential to professional scouts. However, these student-athletes have begun to experience a disproportionate reward for their efforts from the National College Athletics Association. Student-Athletes are spending less time in college, as professional leagues such as the NFL and NBA desire young talent, causing these students to leave as early as their freshman year to participate in these leagues. The present incentive of a free education becomes less desirable as every game has the potential to end with an injury. This spawns the immensely ambiguous predicament of how to further benefit student-athletes without tampering the genuine nature of collegiate activity. It is difficult to gauge the appropriate benefits for these student-athletes, but these students are being robbed, earning only a fraction of the profits they deserve for risking their entire careers.

“Scholarships pay for education, but student-athletes are put through a lot both physically and mentally, as far as the time they have to put into academics and athletics…A scholarship pays for education, but what do [student-athletes] get for their performance?” says math teacher Jeff Inman.

With such a competitive level of play comes aggression. This passionate play can become dangerous as the risk of injury increases. The pressure within a game can diminish an athlete’s to choose between winning a game or protecting themselves. A play executed with too much force can result in injuries, jeopardizing one’s future in a sport. With this more direct approach to play, Randall Dick, an associate director of research for the NCAA states “One of the things that stood out was the fact that injuries of the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, across all sports appeared to be on the rise…The same is for concussions”. The entire life of an athlete can change during one game. If an athlete loses the ability to play, they have the chance of losing the scholarship, which is often the reason they are in a higher-educational environment in the first place. With absolutely no margin for injury, and no compensation, these athletes are putting their entire lives and careers on the line.

“College athletes get the opportunity to perform on live television and play for major universities where they are seen by many fans and scouts that will follow them to a professional career. This professional career will give you all the money you need, even if it means you have to struggle while in college. Struggle shapes you,” says junior Kenya Adams.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, the NCAA generated approximately $1 billion in revenue from both marketing and television rights, along with $1 billion in revenue from both marketing and television rights, along with ticket sales of the annual Division 1 men’s basketball tournaments. In addition to this amount, the NCAA also made a 10 year deal worth $14.8 billion with Time Warner and CBS. Despite these significant numbers, zero percent of this goes to student athletes. This financial gain significantly overshadows the salaries of even professional athletes and coaches. With these statistics, it is hard to understand why the NCAA does not have the resources to pay these athletes. The revenue goes towards an organization that essentially uses the talents of many young stars for their own gain and also to the benefit of a college. These athletes are a marketable outlet for universities. For example, what is the first think of when you see colleges such as Duke, UNC Chapel Hill, UCLA, and Villanova? Your mind most likely goes towards the historical basketball programs and the successful players that have come from these programs such as Reggie Miller, Kyrie Irving, Kyle Lowry, and even Michael Jordan. Without these players, schools that once had these prestigious players, such as Villanova and Seton Hall, would be unknown today. Due to the nature of this debate, it becomes difficult to gauge the correct amount to pay each individual student, as each student has a different path and role during their college career. Jalen Rose, former University of Michigan and NBA basketball player and current ESPN analyst, coined the idea of a $2,000 stipend to all NCAA Division 1 athletes per semester. This would compensate for the lack of revenue stream a student experiences and prevent athletes from becoming malnourished among these athletes. Rose believes that this $2,000 per student solution gives students enough to cover living costs and reward the vigorous path these athletes take to raise the prestige of a school’s program and create a professional image for themselves. With the abundant and fertile profits made off of these athletes, it is unfortunate to see this wealth distributed to everyone except those who put in over twenty hours of dedication a week to cater towards a massive audience of passionate fans.

“If we should pay student athletes, we can’t just pay the athletes you see headlines about. You have to pay the athletes that sit the bench the whole time and the athletes that play every second of the game. The jurisdiction of who gets what gets foggy,” says junior Paeden Dubiel.

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Should Student Athletes Get Paid?