The Great Injustice of College Athletics
Collegiate athletics first started back in 1843 when Yale created a boat club in an effort to give their college students extra opportunities for exercise (Lewis). Athletics were purely a resource for healthy exercise as well as a helpful opportunity for teaching team building and leadership skills. As it is with anything, human beings are not satisfied with mediocrity; we want to see the very best of anything that we are interested in and are willing to pay the price to see it. However, the rise in fame of professional sports began to take its toll as players began demanding more and more from their owners. When the great depression hit people no longer had the luxury of paying to watch games. This was the birth of collegiate athletics on the center stage for unlike professional sports teams, colleges could offer athletes something priceless in return; an education. The deal was simple, one all expenses paid college education in return for exclusive rights on every move the athlete made. From the naked eye it would appear the athlete was receiving a fair trade. However, if you look closely enough you will see that the day these athletes sign their name on the dotted line they are condemning themselves to contract that is almost identical to an artist without creative control or rights to his own music. Across the country college sports have become a massive enterprise and have truly changed from competitive fun to a full on multi-billion dollar business. While many people believe that college athletes, in particular college football and basketball players, are spoiled and unworthy of what they’ve been given, the reality is that these athletes do a great deal for their schools. Division 1 football and basketball players are placed under direct physical and mental harm, do not have the time for a job because they are forced to devote so much time to their sport, bring in millions of dollars to their universities and deserve to be better compensated for their efforts. Now I am not lobbying for colleges to be able to pay players however much they want to because that would destroy the sport considering only the richest university would ever land good recruits. However, it seems fair that college basketball and football players should receive at least a tiny slice of the profits that they reel into the school. In my opinion somewhere between 10 to 20 thousand dollars a year would be a reasonable stipend for these athletes. At first thought that number might seem somewhat outrageous, but consider that the minimum wage salary of a full time job is $15,080 (UC Davis). I know personally that there is no possible way for a football player to obtain a job while in season and extremely difficult in the off season as well. In a typical day a player will spend two hours lifting, four hours of practice and film, and then on top of that the player is a full time student. It is understandable that other student-athletes deal with similarly busy schedules; the difference is that they are not working for an organization that makes a profit. Whereas one could consider most student-athletes similar to volunteers, football and basketball players are in fact employees. They are solely responsible for bringing in money and yet are not equally compensated in return. It is obvious that football and basketball players bring in millions of dollars to the universities that they attend, but few people actually understand the vast inequality in distribution of the money. According to the New York Times football and basketball bring in over 6 billion dollars of revenue each year (Nocera). Colleges collectively spend 800 million dollars a year paying for football and basketball scholarships and other subsequent costs to players such as travel, uniforms, etc. (Wilbon). This means that the players responsible for everything are only receiving 13.3% of the profits that they bring in. These universities are cash cows...
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