Each year in March
Each year in March, the entire country looks forward to March madness. Previous U.S. presidents have filled out their own brackets, and millions of people also look to get the bracket right for a chance at a big chunk of money from the NCAA, a billion dollars to be exact. The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) has increased their profit exponentially due to all these big games and big-name athletes who play in their colleges and universities. However, there is one major problem that has been the talk of the NCAA and its student athletes for the last decade. Many feel that the money being made by the NCAA is not being distributed correctly. College athletes are not being compensated enough for the amount of work they do for the NCAA. College athletes should get paid while playing in college because they are putting their bodies at risk of injuries for almost nothing in exchange, they do not get enough through the scholarship they are given and they’re not given the right to make any money off their name.
The NCAA has many benefits for its student athletes, yet among these benefits we find big flaws that instead end up failing the athletes. The first issue we encounter is that student athletes are putting their bodies at risks of injury in exchange for very little. “Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection” acknowledges that while these student athletes, for the most part, are provided with medical health programs, they aren’t given workers compensation in case of an injury (Compensation for College Athletes). Which means that an athlete could suffer a long-term injury which could affect their overall professional career, yet the school for which they’re playing isn’t being responsible for potential long-term injuries. This is an example of someone who is being pushed to do something without any assurance of medical responsibilities from their boss.
The chances for a college athlete to suffer from an injury is very high. In fact, it happens all the time in the NCAA, being that they are always involved in team practices and workouts. “Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection” goes on to tell us that a lot of these college athletes put in over forty hours of practice in the gym every week (Compensation for College Athletes). On top of working forty hours a week, class time takes up the rest of their day, thus turning them into full-time employees. A job which doesn’t pay them, and a job which isn’t liable for any injuries that could potentially hinder or end a player’s career.
Those who oppose this argument state that the time student athletes spend in practice is part of the requirement for their scholarship, while in reality this is not completely true. Other students that receive academic scholarships don’t have to do anything other than go to class in order to receive that scholarship. Non-student athletes have enough time outside of classes and school work to get a part time job and have some form of income. Meanwhile student athletes are working out before and after classes, doing school work for those classes, traveling to away games and risking their body with nothing in exchange. Others will also state that injuries could happen to anyone, even to a professional athlete. This is true, but the only difference is that a professional athlete will continue being paid according to the contract even if they are not playing.
The NCAA states that the only way for these students to make money outside of their scholarship is to get a part time job. But these athletes have no time for that since they are having to put time into practices and games aside from their school work. Others say that athletes already receive compensation through their scholarships. The problem with this is that scholarships cover tuition but never give the athlete extra money for other expenses needed like transportation, food, books, and other personal expenses. Not to mention that a lot of student athletes are coming from low income homes and need even more than just transportation and books. In fact, a report called “The Price of Poverty in Big Time College Sport” declares that “85 percent of college athletes on scholarship live below the poverty line” (Edelman and Mitchell). These reasons lead players wanting to rush through their first year of college and declare for the draft in order to make money as professional athletes. This leaves many athletes who were not ready to play at a higher level many times without a job and without a college education. Entering the draft and trying to be good at a professional level is not the same than playing in college. It’s hard to enter a league with experienced people and be the best, when only having one year of college experience. If these athletes were to be compensated while in college, they would be more likely to stay and obtain a degree before risking it all the professional level, while also improving and being better prepared to be professional athletes. Ultimately, giving them an opportunity to have an education if things weren’t to work out at the pro level.
It is unfortunate that schools have enough money to compensate these student athletes who are basically the ones bringing the money in, yet, they are not doing so. In the article “Paying College Athletes: Overview” the author points out that “The NCAA’s estimated revenue in 2014 was nearly $1 billion” (DiLascio). That number has for sure surpassed the $1 billion mark since 2014, being that the NCAA has done nothing but grow in the last 4 years. That is more than enough money for them to offer college athletes some sort of monetary compensation. Distributing some of the money to its athletes will be a motivation for the students to compete and represent their school even more.
Being that the NCAA is a nonprofit organization, all of the money that the NCAA makes is distributed amongst schools; giving these schools millions of dollars back as profit. This money is then used to pay the coaches, athletic staff and other people involved with the school athletic system. Everyone but the players get direct monetary compensation for what they do when the players are the ones putting on a show in front of all the fans. “New York Times” sports writer Joe Nocera describes that, the 15-highest paid NCAA football coaches alone receive more than $50 million, while over 13,000 Division 1 players make nothing (Qtd. In College Athletes: Should they get paid to play?). The question continues to be: if these players are doing the majority of the work then why aren’t they getting paid? The coaches and the staff are getting paid for what they do, can’t the students be compensated as well? The only answer ever given by the NCAA and its representatives is that students can get a part time job. But by now we can agree that this point is invalid since the players really have no time to get a job on top of their responsibilities as student athletes.
When no one thought that the NCAA could go any further with abusing their players they have done it again. Not only are they not compensating them enough through the scholarships given, and not only are these players putting their bodies at injury risks, but the NCAA is going a step further and prohibiting student athletes from making any money off their name. This is one of the most controversial issues within the long talk about issue of college athletes compensation. While the NCAA makes all the money in the world, their players aren’t allowed to make any off their name. If an athlete were to do so, they could lose their eligibility to participate in any NCAA sport. “The Atlantic” Magazine reminds us of the story of star NFL athlete A.J. Green. While playing for the University of Georgia Football program in 2010, A.J. was suspended four games for violating the NCAA rule. Green admitted to selling his Jersey to an agent for $1,000 in order to receive some money for a spring break trip. The NCAA then proceeded to suspend him due to a violation of his amateur status. Even though the team was selling his jersey at the team store, they did not allow Green to do so (Branch 94-96). This seems to be the narrative for recent stories coming from the NCAA. Athletes are suspended for selling merchandise with their signatures on it and some for having family members doing it for them.
The college rule in which students are not allowed to make money off their name needs to be adapted to give some compensation to these athletes for what they do. It’s time for the NCAA to understand that what’s happening is unfair to these athletes. There is not a legitimate reason for these student athletes not to be allowed by the NCAA to make money off their name. Student athletes have the opportunity to sign their name on a jersey and immediately increase the value of it. They can’t make a penny out of anything with their name on it, yet fans can obtain a signature on a ball or on a helmet and automatically make hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Meanwhile, the NCAA makes huge profits from selling merchandise with their names on it.
The truth is that the success of these colleges athletes and all the work they put in to be the best brings nothing but success to their college or university. The request to change these NCAA rules comes only at a minimum cost for them compared to all the money they are making. It has been the talk for years now, and it’s the time for there to be change. According to “Should College Student-Athletes Be Paid?” out of the 50 U.S. states, university athletic coaches make up the highest paid public employees in 40 of them. This is probably one of the saddest things about this discussion, the money coming back to the schools is not being distributed correctly. Unfortunately, the NCAA continues to be the one with the final word even though there is enough evidence to show that what is happening to college athletes is wrong and there is absolutely nothing is being done about it.
College sports are growing faster than ever and the NCAA Division 1 “March Madness Tournament” is watched all over the world, bringing in billions of dollars. College athletes do so much for their schools that it should only be fair for them to receive some compensation for their time and effort. ESPN College Basketball analysts Jay Bilas considers the way student athletes are being treated in comparison to a worker who is being exploited for what they do. You exploit someone anytime money is being made off that person, while at the same time restricting the individual of making money (Qtd. In DiLacscio). This means that what’s happening is basically illegal but with rules in place to make it sound like it’s something legal that’s happening. It is time for college athletes to get the right compensation, as they deserve it for the revenue they are bringing into the NCAA, they don’t get enough with the scholarship and they’re putting their bodies at risks of potential career ending injuries.