There is a hot debate going round in a number of colleges in North America especially United States of America over college athletes’ pay. Some argue that college students who participate in sports deserve compensation while others are opposed to this idea. The main argument behind the opposition is the fact that college sportsmen are amateurs and not professionals (Mitchell, & Horace, 8). There is growing discontent among college athletes most of who feel their institutions take advantage of amateurism. As many people suggest that college athletes deserve pay, others still hold that situation should remain. The National College Athletic Association (NCAA), a body that is responsible for managing sports activities for member institutions has its stand on this issue. The non-profit organization does not support payment for college athletes. However, this policy is facing increasing challenges from both college athletes and the public at large (Lee, 12). Is this the right time to amend NCAA policy to allow college athletes to receive compensation?
NCAA and other likeminded parties argue that college athletes receive sponsorship from their institutions. According to NCAA, the major interest of college athletes is learning. They usually get sponsorship from these colleges hence should concentrate on studies and not payment for sports (Murphy, & Kate, 6). Colleges pay their tuition fees, library expenses and other maintenance cost in the course of study. Facilitating studies for such athletes for four to five years is a costly commitment. Lee, (16) observes that it costs the institutions more than what athletes are claiming. College athletes should therefore consider such commitment by the institutions instead of claiming payments (Mitchell, & Horace, 15). The agitation for compensation for college athletes is therefore unfounded.
Although colleges get revenue from athletics activities from corporate sponsors, it is not in order to compensate athletes. Most of these colleges do not make huge profits as some people may think. If compensation for athletes starts, such step may turn to be disastrous to both parties (Norlander, & Matt, 19). Colleges may not have sufficient funds to keep athletes in the institution. It would be hard to cater for the expenses of these athletes and may force college athletes to meet them (Murphy, & Kate, 9). Considering that position, there is justification for colleges to retain the revenue from athletics activities. Such finances make it possible for the college to manage athletes expenses while in college. In addition, the main reason why these colleges provide academic sponsorship to them is to acquire their sporting services. It is only fair for amateurs to remain dedicated to the college without complaining.
The National College Athletics Association defends the policy of not paying college athletes. Mark Emmert, NCAA president clarifies that college athletes are amateurs and not professionals. In a legal suit filed at federal court in Oakland, points out that compensating college athlete would amount to making fans bitter (Norlander, & Matt, 19). In this case, Mr. Emmert observes that identifying the line between amateurism and professionalism in sports would be difficult if NCAA allows the trend of paying players who are college athletes. Paying college athletes for their names or images would lead to losing fans support thus affecting initial intention of sports. Although many people do not agree with him, Mark Emmert remains adamant that paying athletes is detrimental to the college sports and is not a good idea. College sports are not commercial activities although they bring in substantial money through supporters (Murphy, & Kate, 12).
Paying college basketball and football players for representing their respective collages would have negative impact on college sports popularity. In Ed O'Bannon versus the NCAA legal suit in Oakland federal court, NCAA president asserts that most universities would upgrade to Division 3 and such schools do not offer scholarships for students (Norlander, & Matt, 19). Such move is therefore dangerous to students especially athletes. Most of these students do not have the ability to meet their university financial obligations. In respect of this statement, college athletes who receive payment for participating in sports activities meet university financial demands. With division 2 colleges, athletes receive full sponsorship for university education thus should not expect payment for their athletics activities. Mark Emmert holds this observation and defends it both in public and in courtrooms.
Besides justification for not paying college employees, demand for change continues to pile. Ed O'Bannon versus the NCAA is an indication that things might change in the near future. Pressure for relaxing stiff NCAA policies is slowly becoming intolerable and college athletes may start earning revenues from endorsements (Smith, & Ronald, 14). Although they are amateur athletes, these students deserve fair compensation for their efforts. Some colleges take advantage of NCAA policy to retain huge amount of money they collect through sponsorship among other sources. Sometimes universities and NCAA earn a lot of money that is sufficient to pay allowances and retain the rest for meeting their expenses (Johnson, Dennis, and John, 15). These colleges fail to motivate amateur players hence affecting their future sporting careers. Time has come for NCAA to initiate change and accommodate recent demands. Such development would ensure that college athletes get their fair share of revenues they help to raise through sports.
Amateur college sports take business shape just like any other commercial venture in the world. NCAA in collaboration with collages market the events and invite willing sponsors from corporate world. They also collect ticket fees from fans, which is huge amount (Smith, & Ronald, 19). It is therefore ironical to assume that college athletes have no right for compensation. Although the sporting events help the students develop their talents and abilities, they deserve fair reward for participating in raising revenue. If organizers and officials get compensation, players who are college students should also receive certain percentage of revenue (Johnson, Dennis, and John, 15). Despite getting college sponsorship, students would get the morale towards taking part in college games. Denying them their well-deserved pay has psychological effect particularly on their attitude towards college sports activities. Such situation gives sponsorship for college athletes’ wrong interpretation.
It is clear that college athletes contribute immensely towards success of universities. When they do well in sports, they help popularize the college thus attracting the interest of prospective students. Most of them lead to high enrolment and funding from alumni clubs. Stating sponsorship as the sole reason why college athletes do not get compensation is highly unacceptable. Their contribution towards wellbeing of institution is adequate to cater for their school fees and other expenses (Smith, & Ronald, 24). In respect of this fact, there is a need to bow to the current pressure and allow these athletes receive remuneration. Failure to adjust NCAA’s policies would only harm the image of these colleges. Damaging the institutional image leads to loss of revenue and public goodwill.
NCAA’s rules fails to consider the input of college athletes to their universities. Although they get free tuition from the university, they also help it collect funds from various sources. Most college athletes do not get adequate funds to cater for their survival hence living in deplorable conditions. Despite helping the university amass wealth through sports, they struggle with meeting even necessities. Such treatment is intolerable and calls for immediate review of NCAA’s rules (Johnson, Dennis, and John, 15). College athletes have the right to fair compensation. It is even ideal for these colleges to treat the athletes as employees with all benefits due to them. To encourage them and make them more productive in sports, university administration should allocate substantial percentage of revenue as players’ salaries (Smith, & Ronald, 24). After all, they provide free publicity for these colleges through performances. Receiving no pay for such contribution and effort does not go down well with amateurs and their supporters.
Considering both sides of the argument, it is clear that college athletes deserve a pay. Relying on oppressive rules of NCAA may destroy good relations between these students and college administration. Colleges should not wait for court ruling but abide by the demands and move on. Promoting amateur athletes and rewarding them is the best way to gain positive publicity. Universities should establish acceptable terms for their student athletes. They need to deliver what they promise in terms of quality education besides rewarding them for participating in sports. Such step would open a new chapter in the life of college athletes, which is likely to boost students’ enrolment thus improving revenue base. With increasing pressure for change in NCAA rules and policy, things are likely to change. The organization’s president and his board have no option but to give in to these demands.
Griffin, Geoff. Should College Athletes Be Paid? Detroit: Greenhaven, 2008. Print. Available at: http://scholarlycommons.law.hofstra.edu/hlr/vol29/iss3/4
Johnson, Dennis A., and John Acquaviva. "Point/counterpoint: paying college athletes." The Sport Journal 15 (2012).
Lee Goldman, Sports and Antitrust: Should College Students Be Paid to Play, 65 Notre Dame L. Rev. 206 (1990). Available at: http://scholarship.law.nd.edu/ndlr/vol65/iss2/3
Mitchell, Horace. "Students Are Not Professional Athletes." US News. U.S.News & World Report, 6 Jan. 2014.Web. 28 Oct. 2014.
Murphy, Kate. "Privilege, Not Job: College Athletes Shouldn't Be Paid." The Pendulum. N.p., 13 Apr. 2014. Web. 26 Oct. 2014.
Norlander, Matt. "Emmert Testimony: College Athletes Should Not Be Paid for Name/image." CBSSports.com. N.p., 19 June 2014. Web. 26 Oct. 2014.
Smith, Ronald Austin. Pay for play: A history of big-time college athletic reform. university of Illinois Press, 2011.