College athletics are a big money maker. There is no beating around the bush; there will always be money in sports. With money being thrown around in the millions, it raises the question: should athletes get paid to play?
The life of a student athlete is not an easy one to live. With games, practice, weight training, team meetings, community service and classes to attend, free time is something that doesn’t come all that often. With that being said, getting a job to pay for things is just impossible.
From my own experience as a student athlete at Dixie State College, work is an impossible task. We had weights at 1 p.m., before team meetings at 2 p.m., which would turn into practice at 3 and then I would leave the practice field at about 6-6:30 p.m. Not only was that block of time given to the football team, but I also had class before all of that. After the gauntlet of classes and team time, I had to maintain my GPA to be eligible for play. In my spare time I would hit the books for my assignments and homework, which had to complete for the next day of classes.
To make matters worse I was not a scholarship athlete. I was a walk-on. That meant I paid my own way for everything. Having a job would have been nice but there was no time. Football was my full-time job.
For many athletes the schedule is the same. School, homework, practice and games will chew out most of their time. Even more time is consumed traveling for away games. Yes athletes get their tuition paid for and part of their living expenses as well, but is it enough to sustain a balanced lifestyle? I don’t think it is, not by a long shot.
Students on scholarship also get the privilege of not paying for school due to high academic standards. These students, however, are not tied down to the same time-demanding activities. Yes they do extra curricular activities, but these activities can be put off if their work interferes with an event. Athletes don’t have that luxury.
In America we preach equal opportunity for workers and strive to have a good working environment. Hence the labor laws in place to keep conditions safe and fair for employees of companies. People around the country talk of big companies, such as Nike, that essentially use slave labor to get their products made. How is this different from the NCAA?
As mentioned earlier, college athletic revenues are usually somewhere in the millions, even hundreds of millions of dollars. Why isn’t any of that money not going back to the athletes that give up so much to represent a school that doesn’t have their back? I understand that schools have their expenses with team travel and need to take care of that. But while on these trips why not be more frugal with what is spent to be able to give it back to the real employees?
I witnessed first hand at Dixie the way the team wasted money on food and other expenses. Things went to waste, and some purchases were just pointless, like Texas Roadhouse catering after one of our practices. By being more frugal expenses would be reduced and the left over funds could be used to pay the athletes.
I don’t think athletes need millions of dollars to get by. But a little more money could go a long way. Let’s say each scholarship athlete gets $400 a month for food and rent. Around Utah Valley average rent is around $300, leaving the jobless athlete $100 for food for an entire month.
Because of NCAA rules and regulations non-family members can’t even buy an athlete lunch or dinner just because they want to. Doesn’t matter if the athlete is a benchwarmer like myself, on a Division II team or Johnny Manziel, there are no free rides or free anything. Standout players can’t even make a dime off their own likeness or signature. All of that money instead goes into the deep pockets of the NCAA, who prostitute their athletes around, not giving them anything but making as much money of them as they can.
Sadly we may never see a day when the college athlete gets paid for their skills. It’s not fair to those who spend so much time for a sport they will never play professionally and get nothing in return, only alumni letters in the mail in which the school they played for is asking for money. How ironic.