September 29, 2013
For the past few years there has been an ongoing discussion about whether college athletes should be paid or not. As most everyone knows, college athletes, per NCAA rules, receive no monetary pay for representing their schools in the athletic arena. It’s always been that way and that’s what makes them amateurs.
Former Tennessee running back Arian Foster came out this week and stated that he received money and other incentives while playing for the Vols. He seemingly felt that it was OK to throw Tennessee “under the bus” to make what he said was a “point.” He feels, very strongly I might add, that college athletes should be paid. I feel just as strongly that they shouldn’t!
Now I surely don’t carry the influence of a pro like Foster, but I still have an opinion. There is no way that I can go into all aspects of this issue within the limited space that I have in this column, but I will mention a few, but not all, of the reasons for my opinion. Take a listen please.
First of all, college athletes are already paid! Those with a differing opinion will say that this is what everybody says, but it is very true. Consider that first of all they receive a free college education which, according to the school they attend, can be valued at between $50,000 and $200,000. That ain’t bad!
This scholarship includes not only academic instruction and learning, but also includes free tuition, room, meals, some money for books and miscellaneous expenses, academic counseling, tutoring, life skills training, and even nutritional advice. No other students receive these incentives free of charge. They also receive free coaching, strength and fitness training, support from athletic trainers and physical therapists, and extensive publicity. The value of these benefits cannot easily be determined, but it is extensive.
I sometimes feel that many athletes don’t value this free education as they should. Why? Well, maybe they are just in college because its the way to professional sports. They take “crip” courses, fail to go to class, and sometimes get others to do their work for them. They just want to play ball and move on to the next level. I know that I am generalizing here and not all athletes are like this, but it seems that the ones making the most noise about getting paid fall into this category.
Contrary to most reports, not all college athletic programs are making money. USA Today recently reported that only 23 of 228 major college programs had a financial surplus in 2012. So where is this extra money to pay athletes coming from?
And how do we pay them? Who has the perfect, solve-all-problems method to hand out the money? Well, no one does! Do we pay all athletes equally? Pay the star quarterback the same as the backup guard? Do we put a cap on how much players can be paid? Do we pay those that score the touchdowns more than the ones who block for them? Do we pay only the students in the revenue earning sports? If we pay the football players do we also have to pay the tennis players?
Basically only three-four sports are revenue earning. Football, men’s and women’s basketball, and sometimes baseball are the only sports that generate revenue at the college level. The excess revenue from these sports contribute greatly to the other sports that fail to make a profit.
You can see from these few paragraphs that this is a multi-faceted issue. Although it may seem simple, there is no easy solution except to leave things as they are. College athletes already receive considerable benefits from their schools and are not due, and do not deserve, any “payments.” Keep amateur sports as they are and do not ruin what we have. Paying collegians will destroy college athletics as we know them today.
Be careful here!