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Hailey Trupp

Ms. Leslie Drake

Research Techniques & Technology
October 26, 2015
Impact or Income?
As the popularity of college sports continues to rise, so does the major
controversies of the use of college athletes. One huge controversy; should
they be paid? In this research paper, this question will be laid out with many
of the different arguments within this larger argument. This will include the
issue of amateurism, treatment of athletes, statistics, school profit, college
experience, and the idea of unfairness.
On average, a National Basketball Association, also known as the NBA, player receives a
salary of about $24.7 million in their whole career. The average National Collegiate Athletic
Association, which is often referred to as the NCAA, basketball player makes a salary of $0, as
well as any of the other leagues and divisions of college sports. The amount of pay for other
professional sports differs from the NBA, but the same idea exists that college athletes do not
make any money for playing a sport. Some might look at this and may view it as a considerable
issue, some might possibly view it and determine that there is not a predicament present at all.
There are several altercations on whether college athletes, especially the NCAA athletes, should

receive revenue or if they should not. Many exceptional points can be formed from either side of
which one chooses to base their argument upon. (The Average Career Earnings of Athletes
across Americas Major Sports Will Shock You.) (NCAA Public Home Page
Amateurism. The concept of getting paid a salary playing a sport, should solely qualify an
individual as a professional. When participating on an athletic team in college, whether or not
there is the potential capability there to go professional, is considered to be an amateur level of
play because of the fact that it is still only college. Being paid as an amateur would take out a lot
of the interest and excitement that comes with being chosen to compete at the professional level.
Treatment of Athletes. If college athletes are not be paid, they should still be taken well
care of by the school, and the coaches that they play for. Reed Karaim stated in his article
Paying College Athletes, Athletes, however, continue to play under a decades-old system in
which scholarships pay for tuition and room and board but fall short of covering the full cost of
attending school. In return, players are expected to maintain a rigorous training and playing
schedule while keeping up their studies. Students in college are more times than not, immensely
impoverished. For example, Horace Mitchell said in his article Should College Athletes Be
Paid? that "The Price of Poverty in Big Time College Sport" confirms that 85 percent of college
athletes on scholarship live below the poverty line. Especially when being a student athlete and

not having one bit of free time in the midst of attempting to juggle a sport, classes, homework,
and getting a healthy amount of food and sleep.
A division one college football player explained how he thinks he should be paid for
playing football because he is penniless and could not even afford to eat anything at all for
several days in a row. (30 for 30: Broke) Having enough food to eat should never be a problem
for any college student or a student athlete, even if they are destitute and have a job. The right to

have at least three free meals a day should be provided with the scholarship that they were given
to them. It is especially important for the athletes to have some source of protein in their diet to
be healthy enough to perform on the field or on the court. Again, if athletes should not be paid,
the system should be updated to where they receive better treatment.
Statistics. Nearly 1,100 schools are supported by the NCAA program. More than $2.7
billion is distributed among these schools for scholarships. About 16,450 out of 250,000 football
players make it into the NCAA. That is an extensive number of people that did not make it. The
reward for being one of the football players that actually made it is a scholarship. Out of those
16,450, only 215 make it into the professionals and receive payment. The odds of making it that
far is only 1 in 1,233. (The Student as Athlete See 31) As a reward for being one of those 1,233
getting paid to play football, should be held on a completely different level then playing in
college. This is a good reason why college athletes should not be paid to play a sport.
Schools Profit. Another favorable argument that some college athletes have made is that
their school is making all kinds of income off of them, while they do not receive anything. (30
for 30: Broke) For instance, those jerseys that can be found in the stores with players names or
numbers, the posters that advertise them playing, simply the fame that they accumulate and bring
the school fans and supporters when they play, the actual athlete receives no part of the funds.
The stores selling the product and the schools get to keep all of that money. Taylor Branch gives
an example of this being an issue in his article The Shame of College Sports with what
happened to Ed OBannon. Ed OBannon played for UCLA in 1995 and is filing a lawsuit with
the NCAA because they are still selling items and videos with him on them. The NCAA states
that he is still not able to accept any of that money. Branch states the scandal is not what the
athletes are doing, the scandal is what we are doing to the athletes. In response to that dispute,

Theodore Ross attacks this argument from another angle. Ross states that the NCAA is a cartel
and that the only way to solve these issues is to completely get the money out of the equation. He
says to lose the endorsements, ticket income, sweat suits, and video games. His solution is to just
remove only the good things, sports and schools. Yes, this is an extremely exaggerated solution,
but he does get the point across that money is causing problems. As shown before, only 16,450
out of 265,000 athletes make it to the big league. The chance of getting to play for a decent
school and earning a scholarship could be the beginning of going professional. These athletes are
making an impact on their colleges, the colleges should do more to insure a good impact on
College Experience. College is a tremendous experience to be a part of. At many
colleges, athletics are being viewed and put as a high priority of the university and even the town
that the university is located in for that matter. This is a problem in itself. College is initially
about getting an education and discovering what occupation to uphold and even to figure out
ones identity, as stated by Ava Cambio, college is a place for learning, not earning. Being an
athlete does not define the worth of a person. Being paid as a college athlete would deviate the
student from the purpose that they are initially at the college for, which is to graduate with a
degree so that they can make a decent salary later on in life. In the long run, unless the person is
lucky and talented enough to be able to get to go play a professional sport, a degree is more
beneficial for the future when searching for an occupation.
While a student athlete only is given four years of eligibility and after is no longer
allowed to participate, they would only receive a salary for playing for four years where if a
student receives a degree, that degree will last a lifetime. If athletes were to get paid, they may
get their priorities mixed up, which should always have academics first. Even with being a

student athlete grades are important for eligibility. Depending on the program, school, and
coaching preferences, a student has to have above a certain grade point average and cannot be
failing any classes or they will not be able to perform with the team. This alone proves that
academics should be put above sports. Although it would be difficult to juggle an education and a
sport, it is possible and it can be done with effort and the right mind. Kenneth Cooper quotes the
coach of Harvard University who is a former Duke University basketball player who explains
that there are always ways to work around your tough schedule, whether that means taking the
more difficult classes in off season or taking them in the summer. There is always a way.
Unfairness. Lastly, the argument of the pay or salary not being fair. It would be
exponentially difficult to keep the paying system fair. There are many factors that would have to
be taken into account. The fact of the different divisions is one issue. Would the junior colleges
or division three colleges get to pay their athletes with the lack of income they receive compared
to larger colleges? How would they determine the difference in pay between a person that sits the
bench and a person that plays the whole game? What would the amount of money be for a team
that is a ten time national champion winning team compared to a team that has never won a
game? Some of these scenarios are further expanded on by Jane Dubad. Jane Dubad presents her
argument on the topic with this comment, Another big problem with the idea is its mere
unfairness to less popular sports that acquire little to no revenue, and of course to the colleges
with lesser funds. Who would be responsible for paying the students in this case? And what
system will be used; do athletes with better performance get more pay than other members of the
team? It is a fact that different sports will bring in a larger amount of revenue in colleges. In
majority of colleges, that sport would be football simply because of how many fans come to the
games to support and how many players are on each squad where as if even half of them had

their parents come support, that would already be more fans than would be seen at a soccer game
or a tennis meet or wrestling match.
Another form of unfairness would be the fact that not everyone who receives a
scholarship to a university is an athlete. Many times they are in the choir, the orchestra, the band,
theater, or even just a student who came for academics. It would not be fair to pay the athletes
but not the other students for their accomplishments as well. So that would bring up the
argument of who pays them and how much each of them should receive as pay for their part in
contributing to the college they attend.
The level of play is different in college then it is in the professionals, (as it is also
different from high school to college, which should have already been recognized while moving
up from high school). Players need to be more aware and wake up to the fact of the acceleration
of play while making the argument that they should be paid. Just having the opportunity to play
in college is outstanding. If the hard work is put in and one has enough drive and talent,
eventually going professional could possibly happen. Professionals are called professionals for
the obvious reason that they are the best. College athletes are not getting paid because they are
not yet, the best. College sports are more centered on people who have love for the game they
play, and the immense experience and opportunity. Any day given the chance to wake up and do
what is loved, should never be ruined by the bitterness of not making an income off of it. It is all
about the impact the experience of being able to play at the level of college is making in you, and
the impact you are making on others. That gift should never be taken for granted or looked over
blindly. Like the President of the NCAA states in Richard Southalls article The Pros and Cons
of Making major Reforms in the American Collegiate Athletic System says, the experience is

exactly what it is intended to be: a meaningful extension of the educational process that provides
the opportunity for students to compete fairly against other students, in an educational
environment. - Mark A. Emmert

Work Cited
"NCAA Public Home Page -" NCAA Public Home Page - Web.
15 Nov. 2014. <>.
"The Average Career Earnings of Athletes across America's Major Sports Will Shock
You." For The Win. Web. 15 Nov. 2014. <>.
30 for 30. Film
Reed Karaim. Paying College Athletes Are players school employees? Volume 24,
Issue 25 (2014). CQ Researcher.
Zimbalist, Andrew. Unpaid Professionals: Commercialism and Conflict in Big-Time
College Sports. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999. Print
Branch, Taylor (2011). The Shame of College Sports. Vol. 308 (Issue 3), p80-110,
Ross, Theodore (2015). Cracking the Cartel. p44-51,
Cambio, Ava (2014). Time for Kids: Should College Athletes Be Paid? Vol. 5 (Issue 4),
Southall, Richard M. (2015). Congressional Digest: The Pros and Cons of Making Major
Reforms in the American Collegiate Athletic System. Vol. 94 (Issue 6), p8-31,

Mitchell, Horace & Edelman, Marc (2013). U.S. News Digital Weekly: Should College
Student-Athletes Be Paid? Vol. 5 (Issue 52), p17,
Cooper, Kenneth J. (2011). Diverse: issues in Higher Education: Should College Athletes
Be Paid to Play? Vol. 28 (Issue 10), p12-13,
Dabad, Jane. "The Pros and Cons of Paying College Athletes." - College Tips. Web.