Many college students are unable to find a balance between schoolwork, their social life and sleep. Even fewer are able to squeeze a full 40-hour workweek into their already busy schedules. Imagine going through all of this, only to not be paid. That is the life of a college athlete.
According to a survey done in 2011 by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), most Division I student athletes reported practicing 30 or more hours a week, with some reporting 40 or more hours. Keep in mind, that only counts practicing hours, not travel time or game time.
With those numbers factored in, the weekly hours of a college athlete could very well be around 50 hours per week.
This work goes unpaid to the athletes performing their sport. The schools, however, profit from this. According to businessinsider.com, the average Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) school make nearly $32 million from football alone and over $50 million in total.
Some may say that these athletes are paid in the education that they receive. While that may be a valid point, these students are not there to put a priority on their education. In a lawsuit filed against the University of North Carolina, it was found that the school offered classes to athletes that only required a final paper in efforts to keep their GPA above the NCAA eligibility requirement.
These student athletes know exactly why they are at college: To win for their team and eventually go to the professional level. Education is not made the focal point by the athlete or the university. Colleges are simply a jumping-off point for these athletes before they decide to go to the professional leagues. Many leave before even achieving a degree.
Student athletes know that college is a joke for them, and they are only around to play sports. The colleges know that too, and they just attempt to cover it up. After numerous scandals, the general public knows that college athletes are truly only there to be athletes. Why, at this point, does anyone still act like it is a well-kept secret?
While some student athletes do value their education, most are simply there to play. The colleges know this and provide an easy educational path to ensure that their athletes are eligible to play. This is mainly because they generate large sums of revenue from the sports they play.
Let us agree to call it as it is here. These “students” are being treated as assets, not students. They are overworked and undercompensated, and those who are unable to go to the next level may simply be left with a lifetime of injuries without ever seeing a cent for it.
It is time to pay these athletes for their contributions toward their schools. While some do get full scholarships, that is only so that they can make the school money. Those who are there just for sports should be paid like any other athlete would, especially taking into account the sorts of revenue that schools are able to generate from these students.
I am not just speaking of the athletes in Division I schools, this applies to any college that offers sports programs. That includes Montclair State University, where athletes move in early and practice daily until the semester begins.
Division III schools, such as Montclair State, do not even offer athletic scholarships, so the athletes are left with one benefit, which is priority registration. Even that is only for the benefit of their sport, as it ensures that they can build their schedules around practice times.
Freshman football players Michael Abraham, Brandon Andrews and Michael DeSarno all agree that there should be some payment structure for student athletes.
“Dealing with class and playing sports is stressful enough, and also having a job alongside that makes it seem even more impossible and much harder to manage,” Abraham said. “We should get some sort of income when it comes to playing sports because we are all paying for this out of pocket unless they give all of us scholarships for football.”
Andrews shared what he thought was unfair about not getting paid.
“All this time is dedicated to a sport for the university and the players see none of it. Without the players, the game cannot be played,” Andrews said. “They make money off of us, and all we get is a handshake and a T-shirt.”
DeSarno shared what he thought athletes should be making money from.
“Revenue they bring in for their respective universities should be given to the athletes,” DeSarno said. “They should be paid for their worth.”
The NCAA should implement a payment structure for athletes dependent on their school, class and sport, as well as any other variables that may coincide with payment, such as popularity. These schools are benefiting off of their athletes without showing them the financial rewards they reap. It is time to do the right thing. It is time to pay college athletes.