Tackling Pay for Play in College Athletics


    by Tallon Barber

My senior year of high school I decided that I wanted to pursue my childhood dream and play college football. However soon after signing with a school I realized that I had very little knowledge of what my $15,000 per year scholarship would actually cover. It was not until after I had signed that I realized that after my scholarship I would still required to pay more than $12,000…per semester. The scholarship I had worked years to earn was barely going to cover a third of the cost, and did not include a meal plan. It didn’t take me long to realize that with a full day of classes, morning lifting, and practice after class, that I would be missing a lot of meals because of the cafeteria’s hours conflicting with my busy schedule. Not having time for a job would mean that I wouldn’t have any extra spending money to go purchase a missed meal, resulting in many nights of going to bed with an empty stomach. No student, let alone a student athlete who needs to be well nourished and in top physical condition, should ever have to experience this.

Just a few hundred dollars a month would have made a world of difference for myself and many of my teammates. This money could have been spent on groceries for my dorm, or a nice dinner after a late nights practice. Men’s Memorial Hall was not an air conditioned dormitory so extra money to buy a box fan and bottled water would have made these dangerous living conditions much more tolerable. College athletes need to be paid for the simple facts that they do not have time for side jobs to earn extra cash, and they bring in millions on average in revenue each year for their universities. Paying a college athlete can change their life.

The average college athlete will spend well over 40 hours a week balancing class, studying, practice, and their athletic competitions. In my first semester as a college athlete I was taking 16 credit hours, attending practice every night, working out every other morning and traveling all over for games on Saturdays. This left absolutely no time for a job, and because many students come from families on budget constraints parents could not send excess money to their children. Everyday, or night rather, college athletes are going to bed on an empty stomach because when their practices are over the cafeteria is already closed and their pockets are too thin to support them going out and buying extra meals.

Athletes all across the country are being exploited for their talents. Names such as Tim Tebow and Johnny Maziel brought in millions of dollars in their time spent in college and didn’t see one dime of it. These men happen to be two of the best quarterbacks in recent history and as the universities could sell their jerseys for a profit they couldn’t even charge two dollars for an autograph without risking the rest of their college careers. Knight Kiplinger, president of his own financial advising firm, in his article, “Should Athletes Share in Their School’s Profits?’ noted “There is an ethical imperative to provide fair compensation for all workers whose hard work and talent create salable products and, in some cases, large profits,” (par 2). I understand that not all athletes are going to bring in tons of revenue but as for the ones playing football or basketball, well that’s another story. Major colleges will net between $124,000,000 and $90,000,000 a year. In that millions of dollars there is plenty to pay the student athletes on major revenue providing teams.

There are plenty of ways to make paying college athletes affordable for all schools. One idea coming from Harry Edwards, who is both a professor at the University of California at Berkeley and a consultant for the San Francisco 49ers, in his article, “Share the Wealth” calls for outside cooperate sponsors. Allowing schools to have these sponsors would let them be honest and enjoy a sustainable flow of revenue without overburdening the general fund, says Edwards (Edwards 13). This option would make paying student athletes more feasible for universities.

Many people argue that the average college student doesn’t get compensated for their contributions or studies so why should the athletes. The answer is simple. Students who don’t participate in athletics or extracurricular activities have time to get jobs and support themselves. Not to mention that the everyday student can sell their findings to provide for themselves. An article by Sally Jenkins found in The Washington Post called “Paying Players Could Save College Sports,” discusses the opposing view. She says that since the university may not be paying everyday student but if their findings and studies are good enough they can make their own money from outside entities. An interesting example that she brings up is Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. If he can legally receive money for his skills in computer software while still in school shouldn’t these athletes be paid for their skills and abilities? (Jenkins par 10).

Being a college athlete requires a lot. It requires a lot of time, effort, talent, but most of all it requires sacrifice. However there are somethings a student athlete cannot be asked to sacrifice. We cannot ask some of the world’s top up and coming athletes to sacrifice meals. These students deserve to be paid. They bring in millions of dollars in revenue and have no time to provide money for themselves because of the demanding nature of classes and practices. We need to do what is right. We need to pay these athletes what they deserve and what they have earned.

Works Cited

Edwards, Harry. “Share The Wealth.” Chronicle of Higher Education
(2011) n. pag. Academic Search Premier. Web. 2, Mar. 2014.

Kiplinger, Knight. “Should Athletes Share In Their School’s Profit?” (2012) n. pag. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. Academic Search Premier. Web. 3 Mar. 2014.

Jenkins, Sally. “Paying Players Could Save College Sports.” The Washington Post. Washington post Newsweek Interactive. (2013). LexxisNexis. Web. 3, Mar. 2014.


11 thoughts on “Tackling Pay for Play in College Athletics

  1. Your introduction had a strong personal tie that made me more interested in wanting to read the rest. Until I read your opinion on the topic, I was completely against college athletes getting paid. However, now understanding your side of the topic, I think it would be fair for college athletes to receive a little extra money for situations such as food.

  2. Tallon,
    Your introduction really captured my attention. Sharing your own personal experience and story was a great attention getter! I enjoyed listening to your take on whether or not college athletes should be paid. I agree to a certain extent, but I’m nervous that if college athletes get paid the whole sport will change. But you made valid points for the reasons why they should. It was a very well written blog. Good job!

  3. This is an interesting perspective. I enjoyed your personal connection to your topic, it really helped me to empathize with your argument. My feelings are that college athletes make great sacrifice for the opportunity to develop their skills and gain the chance at not only stardom, but also a BIG payout! I fear that if student athletes get paid it could have many latent effects. As for the not being able to eat, I think there are simpler alternatives for that, like changing cafeteria hours or allowing a food-only stipend. I appreciate how you used strong examples–Zuckerberg and the jersey/autograph example–that really stuck with me and helped me to see this controversial issue from another perspective.

  4. I love the visual, it’s simple and I know what the topic is even before reading. You’re points are strong and your thesis is clear. With this being such a controversial topic it’s difficult to accurately predict exactly how the culture of college sports will be impacted if students are paid, but you make a strong case. The personal anecdote adds to the emotional appeal of the argument, overall a strong piece.

  5. Hi Tallon, It was interesting reading the other side of my argument for this blog post. I think this topic is very controversial and people have mixed feelings about it. My personal opinion is that they should not be paid. Although in your post you had some good points. One that i really liked was endorsements. I fell like the athletes and schools could benefit from them. Great blog post very cool to read the opposite view.

  6. I think the idea of straight out paying college athletes is ridiculous. The scholarship money they are receiving is a huge help to them already. They are still receiving an education, which is largely discounted compared to everyone else. They are not professional athletes. Some are playing in hopes of getting drafted and they know the likelihood of that actually happening. In the mean time they are receiving education towards a backup career which does cost money. Instead schools should be looking into using the money they earn off of college sports to better the schools or lower college tuition fees in general to make college more accessible for those who are less privileged.

  7. I like the visual you choose. it’s hard to say if college athletes should be paid because there would have to pay a standard salary or wage. Having colleges pay even more money to someone could cause a rise in prices in tuition or ticket price or something else. The students could take the problem up to the administration and if there are enough people behind it they might change the hours for them or compensate in some way.

  8. I think the idea of paying college athletes is good, but however I feel that it is too much of a slippery slope to actually do so. Where would you draw the line on how much to pay certain sports. Would you pay a Woman’s Golfer who brings the school no money, the same as you would pay a Football or Basketball player? What about schools that are not division 1 who do not have much money, would they have to pay athletes?

  9. I do not see a problem with paying athletes. They are overwhelmed with school and their sport that they often do not have the extra time for a job. Sure, they may have their tuiton covered, but what about living expenses, car, gas, food, and fun money. If someone is willing to pay athletes, they should be able to be compensated.

  10. It’s a interesting thing to think about. One one hand, these athletes work so hard and end up getting so little in terms of money. That being said, I think we should forget the reason why we are in college though: to get an education. The issue is though, who would pay them. I wouldn’t want my tuition to go to paying for athletes salary. If that can be figured out though, then I would support paying college athletes.

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