Why College Athletes Deserve to be Paid


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LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY – MARCH 30 (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

While many people are fast asleep in the morning getting the last few hours of sleep, student-athletes across the country are wide awake finishing up workouts and adding hours of work into their craft in hopes to make it to the next level. These athletes spend their lives on the court, field, gyms, you name it. That’s not all, as student-athletes put in work for their sports, they have to be on top of their game in their academics. If all goes well, these athletes receive a nice scholarship to play at a school; but they are not permitted to receive gifts, nor get paid, leaving them to rely on per diem and other grants to live on. After spending hours in the gym, added workouts, film studies, and engulfed in studies, most student-athletes don’t have time to work a job on the side. A Live Wire article describes the life of an Iowa football player, and it reads, “During [the] season, we start [practice] at 6 am and go until 11:30, then come back at 5 for 2 more hours of meetings and dinner…I’m also taking 13 semester hours.”

Paying athletes can surely help these athletes with this problem. 

Only 1% of college athletes receive a full-ride scholarship, which covers tuition and fees, room and board, and other living expenses. That means that most athletes have to cover the costs of these things out of pocket. Where is this money supposed to come from? In a Live Wire article, when conducting a study on college athletes, it was mentioned that “71% of the athletes voted they were in favor of letting colleges compensate their student-athletes.” These athletes are working full time jobs in the name of sports on top of their studies, sacrificing their bodies in the meantime. 

It’s certain that college athletes do receive huge rewards for their years of hard work in the form of nearly free collegiate education. Megan James from the Medium claims, “Most of these athletes receive scholarships that leave them paying absolutely nothing to go to a University. If you pay college athletes on top of that, it would be too much.” Although this is true, as aforementioned, only 1% of college athletes receive full ride scholarships, which means that oftentimes, they don’t receive money to pay for a lot of expenses. If all college athletes were awarded a full-ride scholarship and allowed to accept gifts, that would definitely help them survive their college experience. Damon Salvadore, a Yahoo contributor network writer also disagrees with the idea that college athletes should be paid. He argues that contract disputes would make it difficult to pay all the people on the team and for different programs. I do recognize this to be a potential problem for colleges, but I am certain that college sports administrators can create a system of paying their players and come up with a wage for them to be able to support themselves. 

Requesting to pay athletes shouldn’t be too much to ask. College sports bring in a boat load of revenue. In fact, the NCAA brings in just under $900 million from the March Madness basketball tournament alone. That money is used for athletic scholarships, of course, but an ample amount of that money goes towards paying the coaching staff and the administration. The Liberty Live Wire writes that schools like Texas A&M bring in nearly 200 million dollars a year. Furthermore, almost everyone in the college sports organization makes money off of college athletics except the players. More than 100 Division One coaches earn one million dollars or more per year. If coaches and other administrators can make money from college sports, the players bringing fans to their seats should definitely have a piece of the revenue. 

In conclusion, athletes spend years to be the best athletes they can be in order to be recruited to play at the next level. Many sacrifices are made for them to earn that spot on a sports team. In my experience, I’ve never worked a job due to the amount of time spent practicing my sport and the endless hours training and in the gym. Once student athletes make it to the next level, they get their reward of paid tuition, but they need more than just free education. Colleges around the country should take a piece of the millions earned through these sports and pay their athletes enough for them to live comfortably on campus.