Should Student Athletes be Paid?

Should Student Athletes be Paid?

Are you thinking about being a college athlete? Do you enjoy watching college football games on T.V? While being an athlete may sound exciting, it’s challenging. You must live on your own, find your own career path, and win against the best. Now, add on all the training hours necessary to be part of a division 1 team — about 20 hours a week for high-intensity sports such as basketball, football, and tennis — you’d expect athletes to be compensated for their time commitments. Yet, somehow there is an ongoing debate about whether or not athletes should be paid while playing on a college sports team. 

Playing for a school team is no easy job. Along with needing to complete a degree, athletes put their lives on the line and run the risk of getting injured. On average, student-athletes spend over 50 hours of strength training in the gym, leaving limited time for academics. Colleges benefit from billions of dollars in revenue from sports fans who watch college basketball, football, tennis, etc… Schools must consider the sacrifice that athletes make — they clearly have the financials to make worthy compensations. Unfortunately, this situation isn’t easy to fix. Usually, students on college teams are accepted as athletes for the school. Scholarships are sometimes not enough for the athletes, and those who don’t get one have an even harder time paying off their school loans.

The misperception is that most schools generate more money than they spend on college athletics. Joe Nocera, a sports business columnist for The New York Times, proposes paying all college athletes minimum salaries of $25,000, capping coaching salaries — $650,000 for basketball coaches and $3 million for football coaches — and giving players 10% of TV and marketing revenues. He argues that his model would save schools money: “Is offering cash compensation really that much worse than the current system,” Nocera writes, “in which universities build lavish facilities and spend absurd sums on their ‘programs’ to lure good players? Doesn’t it make more sense to give some of that money to the players? It would actually be less expensive.” 

Since college sports are so crucial to the success of colleges, athletes should be paid to reflect their importance. The NCAA measures graduation success rates by the number of athletes who graduate within six years of entering or 150% of the expected time to completion. The rates vary drastically by sport and coach and range from 100% to 50% or even lower.

Ultimately, if athletes know that money is on the line, they would have a completely different approach to training and competing. It wouldn’t just be playing a team sport; it would be a chance to transform their careers.