Points for a Paycheck: Should College Athletes Be Getting Paid?

From NCAA Football to NCAA Men’s Basketball, college sports have been and continue to be a large part of American entertainment culture. Students participate in their respective sports to help their school win big in games broadcasted on networks such as ESPN, FOX, and CBS for the viewing pleasure of adults and children.

But, these programs involve traveling cross-country for games and exposing athletes to the cruel critiques of those that think they know college sports, and are not designed in the students’ best interests. According to CNBC.com, NCAA President Mark Emmert says college athletics should not be “employees playing employees.” But, they should be compensated for the job they are doing.

The amount of money most colleges get from their sports is substantial, and most of it comes from the pure talent of their student athletes. Colleges get money from their teams’ games being shown on public networks, autograph sessions, and camps/clinics promising player appearances. According to BusinessInsider.com, the NCAA makes around $1 billion a year, none of which goes directly to the athletes.

At the moment, athletes are not even allowed to make any money using their names or likenesses. For example, they cannot make money if their image is used in a video game. The NCAA plans to allow them to do so in the near future, a decision sparked by the Fair Pay to Play Act signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom, which allows the state’s college athletes to hire agents and make money from endorsements. There is yet to be a decision made on a future salary.

As the highest grossing college sport, NCAA Football tends to be the most mentioned in discussions around student athlete pay. But, colleges with the highest profiting sport programs should not be the only ones paying their players. Doing that would make the sport less competitive overall. Student athletes would be more likely to attend colleges where they know they will be receiving a salary of some sort. Average sports programs that usually fill schedules with exciting upsets and nail-biters would turn into horrible teams. No one wants to see blowouts all the time.

Less popular, but just as accomplished sports would suffer as well. Compared to NCAA Men’s Basketball, NCAA Women’s Basketball unfortunately does not get as much public attention, making most of these programs less profiting. Paying male athletes and not their female counterparts is unfair, no matter the situation. If the NCAA is going to choose to pay its athletes, it needs to do so equally.

However, most student athletes are not competing without any benefits. Being at their elite skill level, they can be eligible for athletic or academic scholarships. Going to colleges with top-notch programs in their respective sports also gets them more recognition and opportunities to get to the next level. But, it is not enough, considering what they are doing for their school.

Colleges would not be making the money they do without their players. With their stressful schedules, student athletes deserve more compensation for what they are doing for their school. There are many choices to be made on who will get paid and how, but with the NCAA’s revenue increasing annually, the future should include student athletes getting paid.