While catching up on some game day scores for college football, an article popped up on the side with a title reading, College Athletes Deserve To Be Paid. I noticed it was written by Michael Wilbon, one of the hosts from the ESPN show, Pardon the Interruption. Already disagreeing with the title before even reading it, I was skeptical, but I clicked on the link and started to read. Wilbon brought up a number of decent points throughout the article, but for some odd reason, they didn’t seem to add up to me. This is why I took the opportunity to do a little more research behind the points made in the article and came up with a concept of my own. Wilbon’s reasons why to pay the athletes don’t have a strong backbone to them and his ideas on how to pay athletes are simply not feasible.
A point made by Wilbon is that the poor athletes have no spending money, which accounts for a large percent of college programs. This is a false accusation. Although not every student athlete receives grants, the NCAA will provide the low income athletes and their families a Pell Grant worth $5,500 per year that can be spent on anything. For this year, The NCAA gave out over $31 million in Pell Grants. Since the NCAA has originated, they have been helping out colleges with supporting the financial needs of athletes that are not met through the school.
Wilbon also believes that the only collegiate athletes that should be paid are the ones that are on revenue producing teams. In most cases this would be the football teams and men’s basketball teams. While this may not seem fair to the other teams, Wilbon’s reason is simple; Capitalism. The only players that deserve to be paid are the ones that can make the NCAA money. This could cause problems within the United States court systems however. Even if you wanted to pay the revenue-producing athletes, Titles VII and IX could withhold the process. Title VII prohibits employment discrimination against race, color, culture, etc. If you were to start paying college athletes, then they would become employees of the NCAA and they would all have to be paid the same wage or salary to avoid discrimination. Also, Title IX was established to avoid discrimination of sex. In Wilbon’s scenario, only men’s basketball would be paid, causing a discrimination against women’s basketball.
Not only would there be a discrepancy in the court system, but also in the recruiting system if teams were to start paying their athletes. If certain universities and colleges start paying their athletes, then the players would not choose the school based on the academics and facilities, but rather how much money they were getting offered. The bigger the schools, the more money they would be able to offer and in essences, this would create power houses within the different leagues and conferences. Once there is a dominant team in the conference, it personally becomes much less interesting to watch, as you almost know who is going to win before the game even starts. This could make the NCAA lose money in the long run, if colleges were to pay their athletes.
Wilbon acknowledges that players receive scholarships for tuition, room, board, and books, but argues that it’s not enough of a compensation for some of the players. I understand that in some cases, the revenues produced by the team could exceed the expenses of an athlete’s college bills. But a situation like that is few and far between, as only 22 Division 1 schools out of 120 made a profit (Bennett). With just over 18% of athletic programs making money, it sounds implausible for schools to pay their athletes. Wilbon doesn’t bring this up in his argument, but education is impossible to put a monetary value on. While the college athlete isn’t getting paid, he is receiving free education that can change his life dramatically in the grand scheme of things. Without the opportunity these college athletes are given,...