It has been a debate for quite some time as to whether college athletes should be paid for their work on the field. They are some of the hardest working individuals that obtain intense practices and demanding college courses, and many believe that they should be rewarded for their hard work. But the ongoing debate is whether it is right to pay these players as if they were employees. Many major colleges provide the best services for their athletes by providing them with the greatest gyms to workout in, free health insurance for injuries, transportation, food, equipment, and most of the time, a full four-year scholarship. On top of all of these things that are provided, does it seem right to be paying these students as well? Determination and motivation for greatness during college should be enough; therefore, I don’t think that college athletes should be paid.
One reason why student athletes should not be paid is the fact that the college experience should be payment enough. In the article, “College Athletes Should Not Be Paid” found in the book Sports and Athletes, the author talks about “the primary function of academic institutions is to educate, and not to hire student-athletes for their contributions on the basketball court or football field” (Meshefejian 99). When high school athletes are approached for their profound athletic abilities, they often choose the university that will open the door for them to pursue a professional career rather than what will provide them with an exceptional education. Meshefejian makes the following statement to prove why students should not be paid for their athletic abilities:
These players may have chosen a school due to the amount of scholarship money they were receiving, but scholarship money is usually not enough to overwhelm other considerations . . . Paying student-athletes any more than a scholarship would put such considerations in jeopardy, resulting in student’s making decisions based on how much money they are offered, as opposed to making decisions based on where they will succeed in all aspects of college life. The college experience, a student-athlete’s educational experience should be about more than just dollars and cents. (99)
In an article entitled, “Should College Athletes Be Paid?”, Allen Sack states, “During the past four years, the NCAA has crafted a payment system that provides a relatively cheap and steady supply of blue-chip athletes . . . the majority of those polled identify themselves more as athletes than as students” (2). Mark Murphy, Director of Athletics at Northwestern Univeristy, participated in the debate on ESPN on the topic of paying student –athletes, and he argues that some of these athletes “currently receive scholarships, whose value, in some instances, totals close to $200,000 over four years” (Meshefejian 17). That is a large amount of money, and they still want to be given more?
So now we ask, “Where will the money to pay these athletes come from?”. In Rodney D. Fort’s article titled “Paying College Athletes Makes Economic Sense”, he states that “Universities allow athletic departments to keep all excess revenues on an updated basis during any given budget period. Thus, a department whose costs do not rise over budgeted amounts, but whose revenues are higher than expected, will appear to break even because they are allowed to spend the excess. So there can be plenty of revenue to be arranged” (Fort 11). Players also generate marginal revenue product (MRP), and that is then spent elsewhere in the department rather than on the players themselves. So, the money is there, but I think it’s a terrible idea to give them the money that they’ve accrued because the athletic department does need money to be able to upgrade equipment if needed, or be spent elsewhere within the athletic department.
According to Robert and Amy McCormick, two law professors at Michigan State University, they believe that a college sport is definitely a job, and that these athletes need to be paid. They argue that the athletes are “employees” under federal labor laws and entitled to form unions and negotiate wages, hours and working conditions (Cooper 1). But Donald Remy, the NCAA’s general counsel and vice president for legal affairs states:
The NCAA, in accordance with courts that have addressed the issue, believes that student-athletes are not employees, under the law, and that they should not be treated as employees either by the law of by the schools they attend . . . Moreover, taxing authorities do not consider the benefits student athletes receive to be taxable compensation (Cooper 2).
The one thing that comes to my mind when I think of paying college athletes is gender equality. Would the female athletes be paid the same as the male athletes? Some male athletes may believe that they deserve more because they may think that they work harder and take more of a beating than the female athletes. But Title IX federal regulations would cut off federal funding of colleges if those colleges discriminate on the basis of sex (Meshefejian 97).
Another reason why student athletes should not be paid is because it would create a monetary race to buy the best athletes in the country. There may be a chance that it would eliminate “under the table” activities, but I believe that schools would still manage to find other ways of getting the players that they want on their team. College sports wouldn’t even be exciting anymore because the schools that have acquired the most money would end up buying the best athletes in the country, and all of the greatest athletes would go to the same teams, making sporting events unfair and not equally proportioned. Meshefejian says it best when he says, “The more the disparity, the less the competition, and the less the competition, the less excitement” (98). Paying the players would be the end of college athletics as we know it.