Imagine working for countless hours, six days a week, then putting on multiple performances just so someone else can be paid billions. That is the life of a college athlete. College athletes do not get any recognition or benefits that they deserve for the revenue they bring to their university and the surrounding community. For some college athletes, things such as tuition, gear, recovery items, and other necessities needed to perform are not free or cheap. Many college athletes pay money out of their own pockets to be able to perform at the level they need to, but who gets all the financial benefits? The NCAA and the university itself.
According to USA Today, the NCAA had a revenue of $1.1 Billion from 2017 NCAA college sporting events. How much of this money went to the college athletes who are the ones physically and mentally performing generating this money? Zero. However, in a legal way, college athletes who are playing at Division 1 or Division 2 schools are being paid with full scholarship tuition. It is fair to say that, paid tuition is equivalent to being a paid athlete. This leaves out Division 3 college athletes who put in just as much hard work and time to be able to perform at a high level and generate money for the NCAA and their university, but do not receive full rides. At Division 3 colleges, the only scholarship that is allowed is academic, not athletic. I interviewed Walker McDonald, a current college athlete at Greenville University, and asked him the question of, should college athletes get paid for playing for their university? Walker said, “I believe college athletes should be paid based on how much money they get from scholarships…athletes should at least make enough money to cover their tuition if the scholarship doesn’t.”
College athletes have to sign contracts by the NCAA stating that they will not receive any money from anyone while they are playing for the university. I do not dismiss the fact that playing for a university is a privilege and not a right, college athletes have many experiences and memories that are priceless in life. However, times are hard for many students, and college athletes have a bit more expenses when it comes to necessities, they need to be able to perform at high levels. I was able to interview Josias Parker, an alumna of the men’s basketball team at Greenville University. I asked him if college athletes should get paid for their time playing for their university. Josias replied by saying, “I definitely think college athletes should get paid, because universities make a lot of money from sports, sports bringing a majority of income, especially for small schools like Greenville University. Athletes should get paid especially because college is a tough time with money, so paying money to athletes will give college athletes more relief and will try to help them and aid them with whatever they need, like necessities they need to perform well.”
There is a good compromise with those who disagree with the idea of college athletes getting paid, instead of a set salary like professionals. The very least college athletes could receive is donations from fans or other organizations. College athletes are told to treat their sport as a job and be professional about every aspect of the game. However, like waiters and waitresses get tips for doing a good job, why can’t athletes be rewarded the same way?
Even without pay, the very least college athletes could receive is a guarantee that their scholarship will not be taken away if they are hurt playing. If we are going the route that an athlete’s pay is their scholarship, then it shouldn’t be able to be taken away when they are no longer “useful” for the university. Athletes like Kyle Hardrick who lost his basketball scholarship at Oklahoma University after he tore his meniscus in his knee are examples that universities only care about the ability of the player to perform. If universities only care about the usefulness of the athlete, then there should be guaranteed tuition or pay allowing the athlete to finish college even after being injured and unable to play. Student college athletes should get paid, especially after seeing the details of what they go through to perform at the high caliber level they compete at.