College athletics is full of ethical dilemmas. At what age should a kid be eligible for recruitment? Can athletes receive gifts from school boosters? Most debatable, should college athletes receive compensation for their efforts? There are many different opinions out there about why collegiate athletes should and should not be compensated. The benefit would be that kids would stay in school longer, have extra motivation to excel both academically and athletically, and cut out many of the violations that ruin kids’ futures. The disadvantages, however, can also be very damaging. What kind of system would be put into place, athletes may only play for the money, and it would change the status of college sports. It is very debatable whether the positive aspects outweigh the negative ones.
College athletics bring in a lot of money for schools and sponsors. Athletic budgets at large universities are millions of millions of dollars. Money is produced through ticket sales, TV packages, sponsorships, merchandise sales, and college boosters. Of course the amount of money taken in is most often determined by the success of the program. The success comes from the coaches and players. The coaches make millions of dollars a year to win games, and the players hopefully, but certainly not all the time, get their college paid for. With all of this money being collected by the school, the athletes deserve to see some benefits of their work. According to allsands.com NCAA athletes are only eligible to earn $1,500 a year from an outside job not related with athletics. That is not a very large amount of money to last an entire year when you need to pay for car insurance, gas, food outside the provided three meals per day, clothes and whatever else a college student needs. There are also small educational costs that arise throughout the year that come out of the students pockets’, such as parking passes, lab fees, and club dues. The student athletes would be able to concentrate on excelling in both their academic studies and athletic ventures rather than worrying about if they will have enough money to eat or go see a movie.
Next, almost every day the television is turned on, I hear about another college athlete who is in trouble for accepting benefits from a college or booster of the college. Monetary payments to student-athletes would severely decrease this problem. Collegiate athletes often times accept these illegal payments because they don’t have a chance to earn any income throughout the year; therefore they have no money for entertainment, or just to buy themselves something nice. With the college awarding athletes money, they would not have to worry about the athlete getting suspended, where the money came from, outside influences on the student athlete, and even severe actions such as point shaving and gambling (Sturgill). Money can have a huge influence on anyone. This especially includes college students who want to have as many material items as possible and have as much fun as the can. When a coach comes to a player and says they will give the athlete so much money, it would be hard to say no the school. Having legal payments to student athletes would eliminate this temptation to cheat the integrity of college sports by playing for illegal payments instead of the passion and competitiveness of the game. It happens so many times that a kid gets caught accepting benefits and is either kicked out of the program completely or suspended for multiple games. This destroys that person’s chance at moving on to professional sports and sometimes finishing their education. Punishing these athletes is in no way helping them succeed in life. Many of these situations could be controlled through supervised benefit programs ran by each school.
Lastly for the proponents, athletes would be encouraged to stay in school longer and finish their degrees. Every year athletes decide to proclaim themselves eligible for professional sports. Once they do this, they are no longer of amateur status and therefore cannot complete their college eligibility. Every year, there are multiple players who do not get selected to play professionally and can no longer finish school and have to try and find a 9-5 job that doesn’t pay good enough to live on and raise a family on. Most often, the athletes see the chance to earn millions of dollars playing professionally so they jump at the opportunity. However, sometimes the vision of the millions of dollars blinds them from the reality that they are not ready. Hopefully, with them receiving money in college, they can more correctly analyze their abilities and make a well informed decision on whether to stay in school or go professional. The percentage of athletes who received their diploma would undoubtedly rise if they received benefits from the school. With the degrees the athletes have a higher earning potential and that would result in more donations to the school also. The school would have a higher standard academically with more graduates and would become more attractive to donors, students, and potential student athletes while best contributing to its student athletes’ futures.
Now that we have heard the pros, let’s analyze some of the cons associated with the compensation of student athletes. First off, what kind of system would be put in place? There would need to be a system implemented that would benefit all the players fairly. It is extremely hard to define what is fair though. “The big time quarterback is being paid, will the water polo player also be paid? He’s a starving college athlete too” (Lewis). The starting quarterback and the football team will bring in millions of dollars for the school while the water polo team will most likely operate at a loss. Football and basketball are the two biggest revenue earners in collegiate athletics. Many of the less popular sports actually lose money throughout the year. It would be hard to convince the football and basketball teams how it’s fair that the gymnastics team gets paid the same amount as them. Also, the bigger universities that make more money would pretty much be able to buy the best players possible. It would be very difficult to distribute the money equally throughout each college and to find a system that would benefit everyone fairly.
Another disadvantage would be that students may play only for the money. Winning, which is the ultimate goal, may become secondary. Coaches may have to implement a stipulation to where they get paid more for games they win. This would then greatly take away from the integrity of the game. It would definitely contradict the history of college athletics. College athletics have always been about hard work, respect for the game, and playing for the ultimate goal of winning. Athletes may become entrenched in the thought of making money to play the game and it would definitely take away from the purity of the game itself. That is the big advantage college sports have over professional sports. They play to win games for the pride of winning and being the best. As soon as you bring money into the equation, they begin playing for external factors, like the money or play the way people who are giving them the benefits want them to play. College athletics would lose that advantage and possibly much of its market niche if they began paying athletes. It would be harmful to both the integrity and respect of the sports as well as the popularity of college athletics if athletes were compensated for their efforts.
Lastly, the classification of college athletics would certainly have to change. Currently, college athletes are considered amateur athletes. As soon as someone begins receiving a salary they are considered a professional. For instance, receiving compensation that exceeds actual and necessary expenses when competing as an amateur, receiving compensation for media appearance that exploit your athletic ability or fame, expressly or implicitly endorsing commercial products or services and accepting prize money that exceeds actual and necessary expenses can all ruin one’s amateur status (Peterson’s). If college students began receiving benefits they would be considered professional athletes. Then, we would need to have a way to establish between college athletics and professional athletics. Eventually, leagues would begin to form into a more professional based platform, students would be making thousands of dollars, and there not be much separation among college and professional sports.