Although many college athletes receive a free education in exchange for playing a sport, it’s not enough. The sports industry, college football specifically, is a multimillion dollar business. The athletes who participate in this multimillion dollar business are primarily why the business does so well. Student athletes should receive a monetary compensation for their work. There are quite a few reasons to support college athletes making a type of monetary compensation. A few of the reasons include the dangers of playing sports, how expensive college is, and how much the programs make annually.
College football athletes “leave it all on the field” when they compete. Many players would say “blood, sweat, and tears were shed for their schools.” In return, shouldn’t they deserve compensation in the form of a stipend? Joe Nocera of The New York Times said the top 15 highest-paid NCAA division 1 football coaches made $53.4 million; meanwhile, the 13,866 Division 1 players made $0. The definition of an amateur is an athlete who has never accepted money, or who accepts money under restriction specified by a regulatory body, in this case the National Collegiate Athletic Association, for participating in a competition (FreeDictionary.
com). The problem the NCAA has with paying their student athletes for their work on the field is that it would no longer be considered an amateur sport which goes against tradition (NCAA Board of Directors, ESPN.com). Historically speaking, programs didn’t make $100 million dollars 100 years ago. The NCAA is reluctant to share revenue with their student athletes in an effort to keep it all for themselves (Tom Farrey – ESPN Writer).
The times have changed and student athletes deserve to get paid. College education is not cheap under any circumstance. The average cost of in-state resident tuitions and fees for a four year degree is approximately $40,000 (Savingforcollege.com). The cost of tuition is going up every year with an average increase of 6%. Here we can break down the numbers in a general sense to see how much a student athlete “makes” with a free four year scholarship. Nocera also mentioned student athletes participate in approximately 50 hours a week in football related activities. For example, practice, film studying, team meetings, working out, and games. 50 hours a week, at 52 weeks per year, multiplied by 4 years comes out to 10,400 hours. $40,000 divided by 10,400 hours comes out to $3.85 an hour. $3.85 is lower than the national average for minimum wage, which is about $7.25. This number of 50 hours per week is just time spent on the sport.
This time doesn’t include the school portion, which is supposed to be why the student athletes are there. Presented with this kind of data, anyone could tell that college athletes are being “underpaid.” Now that we know how much student athletes “make,” we can take a look at how much universities profit from their student athletes. According to ESPN in 2008, the top 10 universities in college football reported revenues of $100 million on average (ESPN.com). The lower 10 schools in revenue make around $15 million. There are 120 Division 1 schools in college football. $5.4 billion dollars is the approximate revenue for one year of Division 1 college football. This number is alarming. Students are the focal points of this business and they do not receive any part of the revenue? Strictly speaking of per institute, the NCAA should govern a system that collected a form of tax from each university that would be substantial to paying student athletes.
They wouldn’t need to pay the student millions of dollars because, let’s face it, the student athletes are not professionals. If they were to get paid an additional $5,000 for the season their sport was in, the total amount paid to the students in comparison to revenue would still be less than 1% (Personal calculation via ESPN data). Another reason to consider payment for student athletes is the potential risk of injury. Professional athletes get paid hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars and have players unions to protect them in case of serious injury. There are many associated risks with every sport; with football it seems there are more than most sports. The very nature of football is very violent; violence is what makes football so popular in America. The most popular sports are those with an associated violent contact such as hockey, football, and mixed martial arts (cbsnews.com). The advancement of safety equipment for football players is heavily debated. Every year the administration of both the National Football League and the NCAA is striving to make the sport safer for its players.
The potential injuries from football include everything imaginable to include broken bones, paralysis, brain damage, tearing of ligaments, and other neurological problems that can affect someone for the rest of their lives. Recent studies show traumatic brain injury is the result of multiple concussions over the lifespan of a player (civtrial.com/traumatic-brain-suicide). Junor Seau, an all-pro NFL linebacker, recently committed suicide due to brain injuries he sustained from playing a 10+ year career in the NFL (NFL.com/Family-sues-NFL). More and more studies are linking mental health problems to concussions acquired in violent sports. The student athletes need something more if they were to be irreparably damaged for life. The amount of money they could be paid could go into a fund dedicated to helping them later in life.
The students put their future on the line while playing these sports; they deserve to get compensated for their efforts. College athletes deserve to be paid for their sacrifices. Universities make millions of dollars on a yearly basis. University of Michigan’s ticket sales for one season of college football can pay for their entire athletic program (MGOBlue.com). The student athletes are responsible for themselves and their university’s image as a whole. Traditionally speaking they are amateurs, but recently with the rise in popularity of college football, they are more than that. They are stars and they deserve at least a reasonable amount of monetary compensation. The NCAA should govern a system to pay their student athletes because they deserve it.