Institutions of higher learning in the United States spend millions of dollars to recruit and train college athletes. These college athletes participate in various events at the expense of their time as students. If in return for their hard work, college athletes get nothing more than a scholarship and health protection, then it is absolutely unfair. This is because everyone around them gets some benefits – from the college coach who earns a decent salary of close to $100,000 a year to the media houses that profit from adverts and the entities that advertise at these college sporting events. Therefore, there the exclusion of college athletes from the list of paid beneficiaries in college sports is highly unethical and amoral. This is because everyone benefits from it, except the real participants who are at the forefront and risking their lives and doing the hard work.
Moreover, college athletes literally “earn their keep”. In other words, they earn the right to be given valuable consideration for their contribution to their schools. This is because in the early 20th Century, college sports were nothing more than a tool for exercising and socializing. This is because college athletes only did some basic activities and they tend to use the rest of the time to socialize and carry out various activities.
In the 21st Century, the dynamics and variables are a lot different from what existed on US college campuses 90 years ago. Today, there is a systematic move towards a process whereby universities invest a lot of money into their sporting infrastructure and sports training systems. In 2006, “Rutgers University invested as much as US$102 million in the renovation of its stadium for college sports”. This is a facility that nations in more than half of the countries of the world will dream of owning as a national sports stadium. This goes to show that college athletics is more than just about exercising, keeping fit and socializing. It has grown to more than just that. Therefore, there is more to sports in colleges than just infrastructure. There is competition and there is the need for dedication that goes beyond just the normal. Hence, there is an absolute requirement to ensure that the very people for whom these facilities were created are given what they duly deserve, a remuneration commensurate to the utilization of these facilities.
The level of competition in college athletics is also really intense. Therefore, institutions of higher learning provide various offers to students which are short of being packaged as salaries. If a college student is getting an annual $100,000 scholarship for being an athlete, then it can be said that such an individual is literally being paid far beyond the minimum wage for his contributions to the school. Although many institutions give sportsmen and women scholarships of less than $20,000, there is a general disparity and this disparity is a reflection of the competition in the industry. Those who argue against providing a salary to college students claim that it will spark an unnecessary race towards providing too much money to students and this will cause most of them to lose focus on what they are in school for – academics. As a matter of fact, that is already happening with the extremely huge margins and differences between institutions’ scholarships to their athletes. Therefore, that argument that unnecessary competition will accompany paying sportsmen and women in colleges is not valid.
It must also be recalled that internally, there are many activities and processes that go on in institutions of higher learning that provide sufficient motivation to athletes. Therefore, providing a standardized system of paying these athletes can help them to start planning their lives as sportsmen and women even before they graduate from college. This is because tying the motivation to only education creates major problems. First of all, most student athletes spend too much time training and they do not get the best of grades. Thus, when they graduate, they might only have one option – to go professional. This might not work out for most of them. And many of them end up like high-school graduates and others end up worse as drug addicts and criminals because they do not have the means to live the kind of life they ought to be living as college graduates. The only solution is to provide a fair value for the effort of each college athlete and manage their earnings well so they can have a smooth transition after graduation either into a career, entrepreneurship or professional sports.
In the legal sense, it can be argued that the failure to pay college athletes is unconstitutional and goes against the civil liberties of the United States. The fundamental basis for the US constitution asserts that all human beings are created equally. And hence, there is the need for equal and fair treatment of all American people. “The doctrine of equal pay for equal work was introduced to the laws of our country as an extension of the Nineteenth Amendment which granted women in the United States the right to vote”. “The Nineteenth Amendment gave rise to the Equal Pay Act 1963 which created a new frontier for the provision of fair and equal remuneration for a given volume of work without prejudice for the gender and other features of an individual”.
The doctrine of the Nineteenth Amendment formed a major part of the argument and demands of the members of the Civil Rights Movement. This culminated in the creation of a system through which all forms of discrimination were critically reviewed by the legal system and practices that discriminated against people for their features were abolished.
There are many educational rules that make it difficult for the provision of fair value of remuneration to college athletes. These regulations are meant to get students to focus on their studies and get educational institutions to concentrate on educating people. In spite of this, it can be identified that educational institutions are able to get around these requirements and they use various techniques and means to recruit the best athletes and spend a lot of money on sporting facilities. They therefore find ways of evading the limits placed on them to achieve their goals and make their heads and leaders look good in the eyes of stakeholders like the alumni. However, the poor students who are individual and do not have much of a voice end up working hard and putting in their best for absolutely nothing. This is simply because they do not have the same power to override the rules.
It must be recalled that the US Constitution is the primary law of the country. And as such, all laws by institutions like the Department of Education and others are subject to the laws of the United States. It is apparent that many college athletes do so much work that is not different from what amateurs and professionals in the same sports do. These professionals and amateurs get a fair value for their effort and they claim it and carry on with their lives. The only difference here is that college athletes have decided to get a better future for themselves by studying something that will benefit them. This makes it illegal because they put in a given quantum of effort that their professional and amateur counterparts also do. So on the basis of equality and the doctrine of “equal work for equal pay”, it is apparent that all laws barring college athletes from achieving a fair remuneration is illegal and is inconsistent with the US Constitution.
It must also be added that that the core value of the United States is on the basis of Capitalist ideologies. The government and the state only have the obligation to work as an invisible hand that guides activities in our country. They should not dictate anything to anyone nor force anyone to do anything. In this case, it is apparent that the classical ideals of Adam Smith towards capitalism are breached in the United States when college athletes are denied the right to a fair salary. This is because they are being made to work and achieve results that are not rewarded adequately is no different from activities in a Communist country where people are to work for a stipend from the government. Therefore, these rules preventing college athletes from gaining a fair salary are not in the right spirit of the American social values.
Finally, college sports are meant to help groom intellectual and smart professionals who will take over the sporting arena of the country and achieve international laurels for the United States. However, from the way college students are being made to play for little or no remuneration, it is clear that most of them are going to lose their interest and desire to build their competencies and sacrifice for the development of their careers.
In conclusion, it can be identified that student sportsmen and women are being delved a negative deal because they are the only ones who do not benefit when college sports do not yield them remuneration. This is morally problematic as college sports yield benefits to all stakeholders except these college athletes who get little or no economic benefits from their sports. Viewing this from the US Constitution, this practice is wrong and does not encourage equality. The doctrine of equal work for equal pay is disregarded because college athletes do equal work as amateur and professionals sports participants. It is further argued that not paying college sportsmen and women is against the US’ tradition of capitalism and this goes on to have a detrimental influence on the development of sports in the United States.
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