Whether College Athletes Should Be Paid or Not

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Every year, there is a big debate on whether or not college athletes should receive pay for their play. The reasons and rhetoric to why they should be paid are enticing; players are the ones who earn the money for the schools, playing a sport at a major Division 1 University has the effect of a full-time job, the players are treated as slaves by their schools’ sports program. Although they exist in great number, these reasons for “pay for play” are invalid and are outweighed by the opposing side of the argument. In order to understand this controversy, a short lesson on key terms and concepts is necessary. First, the organization which this argument involves is called the NCAA, which stands for National Collegiate Athletic Association. It is an athletic committee that manages and oversees three divisions of twenty-three sports played by approximately 400,000 college students in the United States. Second, each sport for each university is classified under one of these divisions based on a number of requirements, including the amount of financial aid available, the circulation of money, the number of players, the scheduling, and others (NCAA). Now that the foundation is set, the major issue of whether or not college athletes should be paid can be discussed. As previously mentioned, several people believe players deserve to be compensated for their performance, however; there are a number of reasons why this should not be done, with the weightiest being education. One must not forget the primary objective for a college or university—to provide the students with a quality education that will prepare them to function in the world as self-sustaining individuals, and not professional athletes (Sturgill, Chen). With this being said, players who sign with major college or university sports teams receive this opportunity with little to no cost. Most student athletes receive a five, not four, year scholarship, and some are even given “full rides”, which mean all expenses are paid by the school (Horne). According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of college expenses in the United States is approximately nineteen thousands dollars (NCES). If this type of pay is not enough in itself, there is more. When a player accepts a scholarship from a particular university, not only is his or her education free, but also several other perks are given. First, almost all college athletes receive free meal plans. Just to gain an idea of how “perky” this truly is, the average athletic meal plan at Louisiana State University is nearly seventeen thousand dollars for each player. Multiple that number times a whole football team and the cost is around a quarter of a million dollars just for one sport. Second, most athletes are given free on-campus room and board, as well as free private tutors, medical assistance, and insurance, all available to the athlete through funds such as Special Assistance Fund and The Student-Athlete Opportunity Fun. It is clear that the individual athlete is directly benefitted tremendously from their participation in the sport of their choice. However, perhaps a broader view of the spectrum will uncover some unseen issues. On a financial level, the NCAA simply cannot afford to pay the thousands of college athletes. Recently, the NCAA released a report that stated the “Division I athletic programs are spending more money than they are receiving”, and are therefore “becoming increasingly reliant on their colleges’ and universities’ financial support.” Erica Perez, writer for the California Watch, a local newspaper, elaborates on this report. She claims the report also shows the breakdown of expenses in collegiate sports, with salaries and benefits ranking the highest. If the NCAA is struggling to pay college coaches and administration, how can it possible afford thousands of college athletic salaries? The answer is, it cannot. Dependence upon college and university funds...
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