Why are College Athletes not Paid?

Just about everybody within America has either watched a football or basketball game on TV or at least knows somebody who has. Being one of the most popular sports in America, there is tons of money in this industry. However, I am not just writing about professional sports. College sports are just as big.

An average NFL player’s salary is 2.7 million dollars as of 2019 according to an article published on CNBC. Professional football is arguably just as tough as college football and both bring in tons of money to teams and management. Now the question has to be asked: Why do college athletes still make no money? Is college football any less of a job than professional football? The answer is no. 

College football is a HUGE source of money for colleges looking to profit off of their players’ success.  According to an article published to University Wire the NCAA profits and astonishing 1 billion dollars per year. This revenue comes from many things such as tickets, sponsorships, and merchandise. Another troubling fact is that coaches have huge salaries and players still don’t make a dime off of their hard work and dedication. The players are doing it for their school, while their school is doing it for the money.

Paying players will also benefit everybody in many other ways. An article published in the Boston Globe outlines one ongoing problem with college sports and that is the unprofessionalism, including constant scandals. The author’s take on this problem is to begin “Treating athletes as paid professionals and dropping the pretense that they’re in school for a meaningful education” Players underpay would think about their salaries before acting in ways they have been recent. Scandals would practically disappear, with players being more focused on football than ever. Another big problem with college athletes as of now is not only the scandals but the students who go to the league prematurely. These players are risking losing their education for their sport, and if things go south such as a career-ending injury they will have no future. Any type of salary big or small will cause college players to want to stay all four years, graduating with their degree and still going to the league.

One major issue is the number of colleges and players within, but with the money intake of the colleges, this should not be a problem. According to Boston Globe writer Mike McIntire “In Kentucky and Mississippi—two of the poorest states in the country—the athletic programs at Louisville and Ole Miss each took in more than $110 million last year.” Top colleges like these should easily find room in the budget to pay their players who actually bring in the money. Coaches make absurd amounts, meanwhile, he can’t do his job without his players cooperating, playing well, and creating a show. 

Throughout the past few years, college players have begun speaking out about this issue. According to the article written by Mike McIntire, players in 2009 actually sued the NCAA for their unfair practices. They felt “they were functioning as unpaid entertainers while everyone around them profited.” This group of players was not the only case of people speaking out against the injustice that is the NCAA. Trevor Lawrence, a huge name in college football, has become a model for this issue. Bringing Clemson a title in his freshman year, Lawrence has not only provided bragging rights to his college but an insanely large amount of money and publicity. Between T-shirts and souvenirs signed by the players to bonuses for winning games, both the coach and the NCAA have profited extremely off of this one player, yet he gets nothing. Nancy Armour of USA Today wrote an article addressing this, stating that head coach Swinney is making an absurd 6 million dollars a year, with his star player making absolutely nothing. Both have important roles on the team. There is no difference between the work of the coach and the players, why should only one make money?  It can be argued that players are vastly more important in making money than the coaches, simply because of the merchandise sold with players’ names. Buying a college football quarterback’s jersey is a very popular thing to do, but when is the last time anybody has bought a bobblehead of a coach? Coaches have no right to the money made from the merchandise. Bill Koch of the Cincinnati Enquirer interviewed former University of Cincinnati basketball Terry Nelson, who actively pushes for college player salaries. Nelson stated:

“We were in the locker room and there was a stack of trading cards on the table for us to sign,” Nelson said. “I’m like, no, I didn’t agree to this. Why is our picture on here and we’re signing it and we’re not getting anything? I didn’t sign it. When I saw the trading cards, it opened my eyes.”

Players have become irritated with the practices of NCAA coaches and administration. They are tired of doing all of the work, bringing in all of the attention, and gaining no money from it. While scholarship money is a lot, it is nothing compared to the millions of dollars that NCAA teams make each year. The solution to the many problems of college athletics, the scandals, the corruption, and the injustices is simple. Pay the players.

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