It’s about time: Stipends for College Athletes
Imagine being a college football star and finding out that a jersey representing your school with your name and number on the back is not only selling for $110 in stores nationally, but it is profiting higher than some professional sports jerseys. Now, imagine that you as that student-athlete will not be making a single penny off your institution using your name for monetary profit. Why you ask? Because according to the governing body of collegiate sports, the National Collegiate Athletic Association or NCAA, this would be considered an act that would bring an athlete out of his amateur status. Yet, it is okay to exploit that athlete’s talents as if he or she were a professional athlete and not compensate him or her. The NCAA started off as a small organization whose first objective was to solve an injury crisis in college football. However, with a growing governing power came more change. In 1852, Collegiate competition or “sport” made its debut in the form of a regatta race between Harvard and Yale (“Intercollegiate History of NCAA” 1). Soon after came the establishment of baseball and collegiate football. In the beginning, competition and funding was organized through student-run campaigns, and school officials had very little control over the intercollegiate sports movement. However, in 1905, after a number of deaths and serious injuries occurred to students playing collegiate football, a group of school officials were summoned together to make a Kastel 2
series of rules that would emphasize safety within the sport. Just five years later in 1910, this group became established and came to be known as the NCAA (“History of Intercollegiate Athletics” 1). As the years progressed, the NCAA established sanctions not just for football but all sports. Most notably in 1950, the NCAA established that “Students could be awarded scholarships based on their athletic ability, but the funds had to be administered by the financial aid office, not the athletic department. The amount was limited to tuition and fees, and payments from sources outside the university (e.g., alumni boosters) were banned.” (qtd in “History of Intercollegiate Athletics” 2). NCAA officials wanted to stress that there was a clear line that needed to be drawn between a student athlete’s main goal of pursuit towards higher education and the distracting blue elephant in the room of their college sports teams operating like that of a professional organization. Hence, the term “amateurism”. On amateurism, the NCAA stated that “student-athletes shall be amateurs … and should be protected from exploitation by professional and commercial enterprises,” ( “2011-12 NCAA Division I Manual” 1). Although the original intentions of this bylaw were to make sure professionalism in sport didn’t deter athletes away from higher education, too much has changed within intercollegiate sports for the same standards to apply today. The NCAA’s goal was too make sure these young players continued along their famous “amateurism” tagline, but we see them featured as unstoppable super heroes throwing down monstrous one handed dunks or making bone crushing tackles in commercials advertising for games as if they were professionals. The very Kastel 3
organization controlling college sports has in itself become the exploiter of athletes in its own commercial pursuits. With this exploitation comes a very large elephant in the room spraying water at the American public from its trunk. The huge discrepancy between the monetary value of a scholarship the NCAA provides players with and the actual profits it generates from the player’s efforts is astounding. Although the profit rapidly increases with college sports popularity, the benefits student athletes receive stay constant. The largest financial rewards a student athlete can receive for their athletic contributions are the benefits of free room and board, tuition, and a...
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