I’ve read a lot of articles as to why College Athletes should or should not be paid, but to my knowledge, none of the authors are current college athletes. Consider this a myth-busting session presented by yours truly, a Division 1 athlete.
Let’s start with the time commitment associated with being an athlete, specifically a D1 athlete. Here’s what preseason looks like: 4 workouts a day, each at different time slots, 5 days a week. It may be something like 8-9am, 11-12:00pm, 3-4pm, and 6-630pm to get in some quick conditioning. Lucky for me, my classes are 9-9:50am, 10-10:50, 12-12:50 and 1-1:50. After playing interval tetris, you can see that I have a full schedule with a quick lunch and not much time to travel between destinations.
By the time I catch my breath enough to leave a workout, I have to hike clear across campus to make it to my 9am class on time, where I start sweating again. Only to return for 2 more workouts, after lunch, within the next 5 hours. A quick dinner and nap, because I have to take care of my body, and I’m back in the gym for conditioning, which never ends on time. This, my friends, puts the time at after 7:00pm. I have not started any homework. The dining halls close at 7:30 and I am hungry again. I have the exact same schedule tomorrow, except this time I am trying to be the epitome of a student-athlete and attend office hours.
You may have heard about athletes’ time commitment, but hopefully after reading my schedule you lived it a little bit. This is a full-time, scheduled commitment. Athletes are workers with jobs.
As if clockwork, this is where the opposition opens with, “Athletes are already being paid with a scholarship so they can afford an education.”
I agree. For the Universities that offer scholarships, this is a feasible argument, assuming the athlete attends a scholarship school. My school, for example, does not provide any athletic scholarships no matter how good an athlete is. In fact, 44% of student-athletes nationwide do not receive any athletic aid.
These athletes are not scholarship recipients. They are not being paid based on ability, yet their likeliness is used by networks to generate revenue.
Now, if it is a scholarship school, there are regular expenses that fall outside of a scholarship’s safety net: Grocery Shopping. I distinctly remember, and I’m sure this is true for scholarship athletes as well, walking around campus hungry because I used all of my meal swipes for the day. I didn’t have time in my packed schedule to go grocery shopping with money I didn’t have, so I called home and listened to my father’s laugh.
Visits back home. Traveling expenses will vary based on how far away the chosen school is from the hometown of the athlete. A greater distance means a greater barrier that is presented when returning home for breaks. We are usually given 3- 4 days during a 6 week recess to be at home.
Even for a short time, it’s always good to see loved ones who undoubtedly ask how the season’s going. It’s a special type of helplessness to see your image broadcasted on ESPN, your jerseys in store windows for $75, and your face on tickets knowing that none of their revenue is accessible to you.
Here, the opposition loves to plugin, “They are paid in experience. It is the education that matters.”
With the current epidemic of one and done, I’m not for sure how true this is anymore, particularly for Men’s Basketball. Besides, for all athletes, the opposition previously insisted that the scholarship pays for an education that most students cannot afford, which means it’s not just about experience or education. It’s about money, hence the reason athletes should be paid a reasonable stipend in addition to any scholarship they may have.
The NCAA made over 1 billion dollars on national TV ad sales in 2016. This does not include their other streams of revenue. They can appeal to advertisers by dangling athletes in front of them that are guaranteed to bring a lot of eyes to the game, thus a lot of eyes to the ad. There is no shortage of money, or excuses for that matter, to pay college athletes.
Don’t fret. The purity of the amateur status of collegiate athletics will still be in tacked. No college athlete is signing a 4-year $60 million contract, but college athletes should have a reasonable stipend to reconcile the job they are working with the outrageous revenue the NCAA is making.