Thursday, July 30, 2009

Student Athletes And Why They Should Be Paid (But Not by Universities)

I have watched over the past couple years while people with experience in business and sports debate whether college athletes should be paid or not. From's Trish Lamonte's article today with a Syracuse professor Syracuse University professor: College athletes should be paid - to the banter of The Sports Debaters The Should the NCAA Pay Athletes Debate – Pay Up « The Sports Debates© , I have been impressed with some of the arguments whether I agreed with them or not. I must admit that having done some research on things, having a daughter myself in college I am struggling to help out, and talking to what I consider a well rounded amount of people, I have come to a conclusion. I think it athletes being paid should be acceptable as long as it is not the university paying the bill.

The most popular of view points will lead you to the debate on the university profiting off the athletes so why not allow those athletes to profit themselves. I have one major issue with this idea in that many leave out the value of a college education in the form of a scholarship that comes with room and board and many other costly essentials. Yes, most universities profit and well from the athletic department but a lot of that profit is in turn used to help improve the facilities and school in general. There are people supporting families who make less in a year then the value of that scholarship so spare me the excuse about the value of that verses the value of the athlete's talent. Professional sports seem to enjoy using college as a minor league venture so ask a minor league player how much they make a year and I bet it is comparable. Not to mention, attending a college should be about furthering your education and getting a degree as well so there is that added benefit because athletics will only last for so long no matter how talented you are.

Now that I have said that, I do think though that limiting a college student from earning money in any form is wrong, as long as the college is not paying for it themselves. I know some people must work fast food jobs or at the local grocery store to earn money to pay for college expenses but there are also other students who have better paying jobs to help them with spare money. I think that we should not limit their potential to make some extra money while in school as long as it does not interfere with their school work or whatever sport they play. To me, limiting the amount is petty and prejudiced because you can bet your butt that if an education major had the same financial opportunities, everyone would be happy for them and not care. Would an art student lose their scholarship if something they created was sold at an auction for thousands or what about a student who programs his own video game that is bought for thousands by EA Sports? So why it is so wrong if an athlete takes a well paying job while they are in school and takes advantages of opportunities presented to them.

This semester, my daughter, who will be a junior in college this fall and I love to spoil rotten, is forced to get loans in her name only to cover her school costs due to me and the wife being laid off recently. She is selling personal items of value, looking for a part time job and finding out how hard it is for many. If a car dealer wanted her to work in his office and pay her $30 an hour, I would gladly shake his hand and thank him for helping her out. College is expensive and whatever she can do legally and morally to keep attending to further her education and career goals, I will fully support. Her brother is high school sophomore who plays football and wrestles so he may have better luck with scholarships but nothing is guaranteed at this point (though being 15, 6'1 and 265 pounds helps). So why should I tell my kids not to take any advantage they can to get the best out of their years in college just because one of their peers might make less or more money then them?

We live in a free and capitalist society and I have no problems watching people try to fulfill their dreams trying to prosper in it. Universities spend millions every year on scholarships and have a right to try and earn a return on that investment. Business owners are out to make a profit and if they think paying an athlete an obscene amount of money to help them out is worth it to them and their business, then why should we stop them? And if we the people dislike this system so much, why are attendance figures, television ratings, and video game sales so high, which whether you like it or not is essentially you supporting the whole thing? Just stop being so restrictive of these young people already and concentrate on more important things like improving that quality of education they are getting and helping to secure the best future they can. Allow them the freedom to make some money while they can just as we allow anyone else out there to do if it were them.

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