Why student-athletes should get paid

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A few weeks ago an article was written for The Review on why student-athletes shouldn’t get paid. While I respect the stance that was taken, I also disagree with it. The time that student-athletes put into their studies, practice, and games should be worth more than just a standard scholarship that pays for their tuition, books, room and board.  Add to the fact that they are constantly traveling for games and competitions and you have another reason that they should receive some form of compensation.

Many will argue that it would be difficult to do because some sports don’t bring in the same kind of money that a football team or basketball team does. I agree with that. However, that shouldn’t be a reason for athletes not to get paid. Schools can set up a stipend based on percentages to divide up among teams, just like they do when they sit down to discuss a budget of what teams need prior to each season. If this doesn’t work, schools should find some other way to figure out how to compensate their athletes.

Instead of punishing a kid for getting paid to autograph some footballs like the NCAA did with former Georgia running back Todd Gurley in 2014, the athletes should be compensated for their efforts. Gurley received $3,000 to autograph memorabilia for multiple dealers over a two-year period. He also received a four-game suspension for his actions.

Yes, paying athletes might have to come from an increase in taxes or an increase in concessions and ticket sales. But that is nothing new in college sports. Ticket sales are increased each year even if they aren’t paying the student-athletes.  But if you were working a job where you were expected to work 35-40 hours a week, maintain a certain standard of work, and travel almost every week of that job, wouldn’t you want to get paid?

We aren’t talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars. What we are talking about is $2,500 to $4,000 per semester. That is no different than what a regular student gets in their refund from financial aid. So paying the student-athletes a stipend isn’t an impossible thing. It won’t hurt the amateurism that is college athletics. It won’t take away from the amazing atmospheres.

All I know is that Ed O’Bannon did the right thing. He saw that the NCAA and EA Sports were making millions of dollars off of the likeness of his image from his days at UCLA in a video game and he wanted a piece of the pie. I don’t blame him. What person, athlete or not, wouldn’t want some of that money? If I were doing all the work to bring in revenue to an organization, I would want to get compensated for my efforts.  It is the same for the student-athletes. Scholarships are nice but not everyone gets a full-ride. A little stipend payment will go a long way in helping these student-athletes who do more work on and off the court than we realize.