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The Great Injustice of College Athletics Essay

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However, the rise in fame of professional sports began to take its toll as players began demanding more and more from their owners. When the great depression hit people no longer had the luxury of paying to watch games. This was the birth of collegiate athletics on the center stage for unlike professional sports teams, colleges could offer athletes something priceless in return; an education. The deal was simple, one all expenses paid college education in return for exclusive rights on every move the athlete made. From the naked eye it would appear the athlete was receiving a fair trade.

However, if you look closely enough you will see that the day these athletes sign their name on the dotted line they are condemning themselves to contract that is almost identical to an artist without creative control or rights to his own music. Across the country college sports have become a massive enterprise and have truly changed from competitive fun to a full on multi-billion dollar business. While many people believe that college athletes, in particular college football and basketball players, are spoiled and unworthy of what they’ve been given, the reality is that these athletes do a great deal for their schools.

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Division 1 football and basketball players are placed under direct physical and mental harm, do not have the time for a job because they are forced to devote so much time to their sport, bring in millions of dollars to their universities and deserve to be better compensated for their efforts. Now I am not lobbying for colleges to be able to pay players however much they want to because that would destroy the sport considering only the richest university would ever land good recruits. However, it seems fair that college basketball and football players should receive at least a tiny slice of the profits that they reel into the school.

In my opinion somewhere between 10 to 20 thousand dollars a year would be a reasonable stipend for these athletes. At first thought that number might seem somewhat outrageous, but consider that the minimum wage salary of a full time job is $15,080 (UC Davis). I know personally that there is no possible way for a football player to obtain a job while in season and extremely difficult in the off season as well. In a typical day a player will spend two hours lifting, four hours of practice and film, and then on top of that the player is a full time student.

It is understandable that other student-athletes deal with similarly busy schedules; the difference is that they are not working for an organization that makes a profit. Whereas one could consider most student-athletes similar to volunteers, football and basketball players are in fact employees. They are solely responsible for bringing in money and yet are not equally compensated in return. It is obvious that football and basketball players bring in millions of dollars to the universities that they attend, but few people actually understand the vast inequality in distribution of the money.

According to the New York Times football and basketball bring in over 6 billion dollars of revenue each year (Nocera). Colleges collectively spend 800 million dollars a year paying for football and basketball scholarships and other subsequent costs to players such as travel, uniforms, etc. (Wilbon). This means that the players responsible for everything are only receiving 13. 3% of the profits that they bring in. These universities are cash cows and are taking the money other people are earning.

Fans do not go to games to watch the university, or to see the coaches, rather they go to the games to watch the players perform. Then, to think that these athletes, who are publicly scrutinized and criticized and take all the blame for each game they lose, are only given a meager 1/8th of the money they earn is outrageous. Not only is it unfair that the people making the money get less than 14% of the revenue but it is actually somewhat unconstitutional. I do not want to say it is a form of slavery because obviously that would be an exaggeration, but it is the closest thing to it.

In accordance with the profession sporting rules, these players are required to spend three years out of high school before they can enter into the NFL and at least one year before entering the NBA. These athletes are literally forced into “working” for the universities and in return receive the smallest slice of the pay. It would be one thing if athletes had the opportunity to “take it or leave it” in terms of accepting a college scholarship, but it is something else entirely when the athlete has no other choice.

They are not choosing to go get an education; they are accepting the fact that it is their only opportunity to continue playing the sport they love. People falsely assume that these college players are stupid and ungrateful for an education when they perform poorly in school. However, from the perspective of a young athlete, a college scholarship is not an opportunity but rather a sentence. In a prison the goal is to reform a criminal by teaching him skills and then sending them on their way. If you were to be sent to a prison can you honestly say you would work as hard as you possibly could to improve yourself?

No, you would do the bare minimum and just get the most enjoyment out of your time and get out of there. By taking away an athlete’s right to choose a college education they lose sight of the value of a degree and thus there is little importance geared towards acquiring an education. The NCAA passed a ruled restricting any and all college athletes from receiving any sort of endorsements or sponsors of any kind. That might be acceptable if it was not for the fact that there is no rule preventing colleges from accepting millions of dollars in endorsements each and every year.

Not only is it incredibly hypocritical and wrong but it also happens to be illegal to take credit and money from another person’s trademark. Yet colleges continue to rack up enormous amounts of money due to advertising, none of which is ever seen by the players responsible for the endorsements in the first place. Many opponents of paying college athletes are likely to say something to the extent of, “So what? They should be grateful that they get a free college education when so many other students are forced to pay their own way or go without. While on the surface a statement like this might seem fair, it cannot be taken seriously because of the forgotten fact that those players have earned that money. Nobody would tell Bill Gates, “Hey I know you earned 100 billion dollars but you only need 1 million cause that is already more than everyone else has. ” In fact, people view the success of billions such as Bill Gates as admirable and well desired. The American society idolizes and obsesses over the dream of working hard and striking it rich.

And yet so many people are quick to judge athletes saying they are ungrateful for what they have been and in no way desire more. It is as if people assume athletes have not worked hard for the position they are in. While it is true that a certain part of athleticism is genetic, it is also true that athletes work incredibly hard each and every day to maintain top physical condition which is no easy task. A good point made in the New York Times was that these colleges are bringing in so much money but they do not even have to spend any of it on marketing or advertising or any other expenses (Nocera).

This means that the universities are literally just pocketing all the cash for themselves and paying for their school buildings and other people’s salaries and scholarships with it. Another opposing argument would be to say that it is not fair to the other sports that football and basketball already get the nicest facilities and would get paid money others would not. However, the opposition fails to realize some key points. Football and basketball are the only sports that “pay their own way” and every other sport draws over 90% of their funds from the football and basketball programs (Wilbon).

Therefore, they have absolutely no right to ever get mad at these programs because without the football and basketball teams their scholarships and funding would completely disappear. An ESPN analysis and co-host of PTI put it when by saying, “Not everything is equal, not everything is fair. The most distinguished professor at the University of Alabama won’t make $5. 9 million in his entire tenure in Tuscaloosa; Nick Saban will make that this year. So I don’t want to hear that it’s “unfair” to pay the quarterback of Alabama more than all the sociology students in the undergraduate college” (Wilbon).

Does it not make sense for the people who buy the cake to get the biggest slice or get to take home all the leftovers? There is obviously enough money to provide for all the sports programs and also more than enough left over for the college to reap it in. For many college athletes who come from poor economic backgrounds, the money given for scholarship and living expenses is not enough to survive. AJ Enno, a former student-athlete, commented on his experience with college payment by saying, “As a former college student, I can attest that universities don’t always deposit the loan money when they should” (Enno).

Not only are players not having their needs met but the funds they receive are often late and difficult to get. According to NCAA regulations schools are allowed to pay a maximum of $1000 per month for student living expenses. However, the greater majority of schools do not pay their athletes the full stipend per month as it depends on many variables, such as academics and program requirements, to qualify for full compensation (Ramachandran). Even if athletes are paid the full $1000 per month this amount of money is not likely to come close to covering all expenses.

The average cost of room and board for a college student is roughly $8,193 annually or $1,024. 13 per month (Cost of a Public Education). Therefore, college athletes are already being paid insufficient funding from the get go and these expense do not even include things such as gas or spending money. AJ went on to say, “[Athletes] don’t have the money to pay rent, eat or keep their cars filled with gas to get around off campus. If I were in the same position and someone came along and said they’d pay me so much monthly for free autographs or tickets to a game, I wouldn’t hesitate to accept that offer” (Enno).

The reason that so many recruiting violations occur is not because these athletes are greedy, but rather they are only trying to survive like any human being naturally would. Eddie George, a member of both the college and pro football hall of fame said, “They need to have more money to do more things off the field. There’s definitely a need for kids to get paid more to live a quality of life like a regular student, who can have a job, because (a football player) can’t have a job, except in the summer, and that’s heavily regulated.

It makes a quality life very difficult” (Rallo). For a long time there has been a false public perception that collegiate athletes live these easy going, spoiled lives. For those who know the real story about the everyday grind of a college athlete, also know that this is far from the truth. Though there are some concerns with college players abusing the money that they receive, this will not be the case because they will only be given a small increased share of the money.

Furthermore, if they are given money now it would teach them to be responsible and thrifty with the funds they receive so they will be better prepared for the large amounts of money they receive if they make it to the professional levels. Approximately 60% of NBA players and 78% of NFL players declare bankruptcy or are under financial stress within two years of retirement (Schalter). According to Schalter, it is the “horrific spending habits, bad investments, generosity and child support can put the wealthiest athlete into the poor house” (Schalter).

Considering the majority of these go from scraping their way just to get by in college to all the sudden having millions of dollars at their disposal, their spending habits are more than likely to get out of hand quick. Also, the rates of shady recruiting and bribing players will go down because players will not feel the need to pick up extra cash just to get by. All in all, paying athletes just a little bit more today may help athletes handle themselves better tomorrow when they are paid a greater amount.

Athletes should be treated more like employees and less like voluntary serfs. In accordance with a recent study done in September of 2011, it was found that the fair market value of an average college football player is $121,000 per year, while the average basketball player would be worth $265,000 (Frommer). While it may not be a good thing to pay athletes the full amount of their market value while in college, universities could at least put the money into a savings account for players after they graduate so they are not left completely stranded the day football is over for them.

The report also argues that playing Division 1 football and basketball is a full-time job citing that players in the Football Bowl Subdivision (D1) reportedly spend 43. 3 hours per week during the season in athletic time commitment, while Division I men’s basketball players reported 39 hours a week in season (Frommer). Division I football and basketball players are putting in more time than the standard 40 hour work week and yet are still living in poverty according to the federal poverty guideline of individual students (Frommer).

While college athletes struggle just to get by, many of their coaches are receiving million dollar contract deals. It makes it difficult to play for someone who makes millions of dollars more than you, but does that mean coaches work harder than their players? While it may be somewhat true that coaches have a greater amount of responsibility for wins and losses, athletes go through just as much mental trials combined with physical exertion that coaches do not have to endure. They also have to do so while being a full time student and living up to academic standards that are in fact higher than normal students.

Even more outrageous is the fact that some football coaches bonuses alone are worth more than the entire shortfall, or extra 10-20 thousand dollars college players should be paid, in athlete scholarships (Frommer). Colleges obviously have the sufficient funds to pay their athletes a fair wage if they wanted to, but since there is no one to regulate or keep them in check they essentially rob their players. More than just the daily routine of exhaustion that collegiate athletes are put through; they are also put in the line of direct physical danger.

With new found evidence on concussions and brain damage it has been found that the average life expectancy of an NFL player is between 53-59 years old as compared to the average male of 73 years old (Campbell). While it is true that NCAA players have shorter careers than those in the NFL, the fact that players lose up to 30 years off of their life from playing the sport means that the time spent playing college ball undoubtedly contributes at least somewhat to that statistic.

It is likely that any college football player will lose some time off of their life due to repeated blows to the head and yet the NCAA offers no compensation or pension for athletes later in life. This means that athletes are essentially putting their lives in direct danger, risking permanent injuries, and doing all this for essentially the pay of a minimum wage job. Considering that only 2. 4% of college football players will have the opportunity to play in the NFL (Easterbrook), many athletes spend the best years of their lives dedicating themselves to a program and a university that shows them little love or care in return.

In addition to the physical danger college athletes are subject to, they are also put in direct position for public and media scrutiny. With the average college athlete being just 18-22 years old it is almost horrific as to the amount of criticism and humiliation players are subject to. Take for instance the Boise State kicker two years ago who missed a field goal that would have won a game sending the school to a BCS bowl. It is estimated that the missed field goal cost the university $8 million dollars in would be bowl money (Gaines).

As a result of the miss, the kicker fell subject to public humiliation few people could ever imagine. The kicker even received death threats over social media sights such as Facebook and twitter. Yet had this player made the field goal when called upon and won the university nearly $8 million in revenue would he have ever seen a dime of that money? No, he would not have been given a penny so it would seem that college athletes are able to suffer all the negatives of being in the public spotlight and yet shared in no part of the reward.

Fans are so quick to judge and criticize athletes at any moment that they show human weakness or make a mistake and the NCAA does nothing to protect the players but rather encourages the behavior as they force players to mandatory press conferences following games and practices. No human being is perfect and yet it would appear that sometimes student-athletes are held to impossible standards. They are expected to be these selfless teammates who only play the game only because they love it more than nything in the world, and anyone who deviates from expectations are immediately criticized and humiliated to lengths that nobody wants to go through. Players will say that they block it all out and that it does not affect them but that is far from the truth. No person can fall subject to criticism of others and not be affected by it no matter how hard they try. These athletes put themselves directly into harm’s way knowing that there will be both physical and psychological consequences of their time playing for many years to come after they hang up their jerseys.

College football and basketball players do all this for the reward of living in poverty according federal regulations. Sometimes we forget that it is not just a game but rather a full time commitment to a business. A 6 billion dollar business only willing to pay its most valuable employees a small fraction of the money they are responsible for bringing in. Perhaps it is not the athletes who are selfish, despite the constant perception of the media, but rather the schools and institutions who claim their goal is to educate and help all their students.

Upon in depth analysis it is easy to see that the true goal of these universities and the NCAA as a whole is actually money, and they will do anything to fatten their pockets. Still the average person will often complain over and over again about how spoiled athletes are and yet we refuse to acknowledge that we are the ones paying their salaries and scholarships. Therefore, it is obviously somewhat deserved if we are willing to continue to pay for them to entertain us. But the question we all have to ask ourselves is who are we really paying?

Are we paying the colleges to provide us with entertaining on Saturdays during the fall or during March Madness? Are we paying the other sports that have scholarship athletes? No, we are paying to watch the football and basketball players at the collegiate level to perform for us. And should that not be who the money goes to then…the people we are paying to see. ? Works Cited Campbell, LaMar. “For Retired NFL Players, Most Challenging ‘season’ Just Beginning. ” CNN. N. p. , 08 Sept. 2011. Web. 27 Nov. 2012. . Easterbrook, Gregg. “Two Misconceptions in CollegeA sports. ” ESPN. com. N. p. , n. d. Web. 27 Nov. 2012. . Enno, AJ. NCAA. ” Bleacher Report. N. p. , n. d. Web. 02 Nov. 2012. . Frommer, Frederic. “Should College Athletes Be Paid? As Much as $1M Says New Report. ” Should-college-athletes-be-paid? -As-much-as. N. p. , n. d. Web. 02 Nov. 2012. . Gaines, Cork. “Nevada Lost Nearly $1 Million By Beating Boise State. ” Business Insider. N. p. , n. d. Web. 27 Nov. 2012. . Lewis, Guy. “The Beginning of Organized Collegiate Sport. ” page 224. American Quarterly Nocera, Joe. “Here’s How To Pay Up Now. ” The New York Times. The New York Times, 01 Jan. 2012. Web. 02 Nov. 2012. . Rallo, Curt. “College Football: George Thinks Athletes Should Be Paid. South Bend Tribune. N. p. , 22 July 2012. Web. 02 Nov. 2012. . Ramachandran, Vasant “Should College Athletes Get Paid? ” Should College Athletes Get Paid? N. p. , n. d. Web. 02 Nov. 2012. . Schalter, Ty. “NFL. ” Bleacher Report. N. p. , n. d. Web. 27 Nov. 2012. . “The Cost of a Public University Education. ” About. com Young Adults. N. p. , n. d. Web. 27 Nov. 2012. . “UC Davis Center for Poverty Research. ” What Are the Annual Earnings for a Full-time Minimum Wage Worker? N. p. , n. d. Web. 25 Nov. 2012. . Wilbon, Michael “College Athletes Deserve to Be paid. ” ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures, n. d. Web. 02 Nov. 2012. .

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