Athlete compensation

William T. Robinson, Jr.

William T. Robinson, Jr.

It should not be a surprise that the topic of financially compensating college football and basketball athletes as employees, has surfaced as a major conversation among major media venues. I guess you can say the probability of adequately paying college athletes in major sports arenas has opened up Pandora’s box. It has been noted that college sports has generated big money for the NCAA and significantly benefited some of the major colleges and universities in the United States. Money generated from collegiate sports has played a major role in bringing millions of dollars to these institutions, especially in the coaches’ salaries. It seems only fair that those athletes making this monetary windfall possible should be paid adequately for their contribution. Should this be so surprising when it seems everyone else is being paid or compensated?

Of course there are a lot of complexities to be worked out according to the percentage of pay and amount of pay according to the size or notoriety of the institution. Many would ardently argue that with all the time spent in practicing and preparation of games it leaves very little time for athletes in football, basketball or baseball to do anything else except go to classes. It is estimated that those athletes involved in contact sports literally put in 40 plus hours weekly making it impossible for an outside job to help offset the expenses of attending college. Relegating these athletes to amateur status and rationalizing that they are not professionals keeps them from rightfully being compensated fully, as athletes. Staunch rules that penalize athletes from any financial gains from boosters or endorsements don’t work in the interest of financially struggling athletes.

The premise the institutions use in arguing against paying these athletes is that the athletes are given scholarships compensating them for their college expenses. This amounts to thousands of dollars, covering tuition, room and board. There are stringent rules that shun and penalize athletes receiving financial assistance or gifts from fans or alumni. It is only common sense to conclude that some athletes come from economically disadvantaged environments, and that extra money can greatly aid them in their college experience. Isn’t it ironic that these athletes’ likeness can be used on shirts and merchandise to make others money?

The public may not be aware that NCAA stipulations regulate that athletes receive $3000-$5000 less from the cost of a full attendance scholarships. Thus, you find athletes only receiving money for tuition, room and board and required books with no compensation for school supplies, transportation or entertainment. It should be no wonder that corruption runs rampart as coaches and boosters secretly find ways to circumvent the rules by providing benefits to young athletes.

The NCAA makes billions of dollars off business deals showcasing these college athletes. Coaches, athletic conferences, college institutions, and sports media executive seem to be comfortably compensated. Why shouldn’t the vehicles making these financial gains possible for everyone else be adequately compensated? In fact, athletes are often likened to gladiators fighting in an arena initiating excitement and entertainment for the crowds watching them perform. Like any other performers or entertainers, shouldn’t they be adequately compensated? Adding insult to injury, they are often discarded and sometimes lose their scholarships when they are injured and are no longer beneficial to the team. Athletic eligibility concerning whether scholarship are retained is determined on a yearly basis. That means if a player doesn’t play up to par, he may lose his scholarship. So much for institutions claiming they have the athlete’s best interests at heart. Studies have shown that a large number of these athletes do not even graduate.

Shouldn’t money be set aside to aide those who don’t make it to the pros when they leave college or set aside for lifetime healthcare for those suffering lifelong injuries from contact sports on the football field or basketball courts? While college sports may offer a venue for a small few to be considered for the pros, the majority of athletes are lucky if they graduate. And we all know sports trumps education for far too many athletes.

In conclusion, one can only deduct that changes are inevitable which will eventually even the playing field for compensation for those whom many feel are literally being pimped. It is time for big executives to share the wealth among those whose sweat and toil contributes toward filling their coffers.