By Frank Maloney
Every year, especially around the time of March Madness, the debate as to whether or not college athletes should be paid heats up. This year is no different. Just three days ago, John Oliver — a popular comedian — made a video addressing this issue. Said video has already received over 2 million views on YouTube. Passionate arguments fill the comment section, as “basketballluvvahh123” insists that players should simply be motivated by the love of the game, while “xXxslayer746xXx” contends that the players should receive at least some of the millions made off of their talent. Truly, this question is an important one to address, however there really should be no debate. College athletes absolutely should be paid.
The main argument used against paying college athletes claims that college athletes are amateurs. According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of an amateur is “a person who does something (such as a sport or hobby) for pleasure and not as a job.” While college athletes certainly do enjoy playing sports, being such an athlete is far more than a hobby. According to the National Labor Relations Board, a football player on Northwestern University’s team (a decent, but by no means great team) spends an average of 36 hours a week on football. Most companies consider someone who works anywhere from 30-35 hours a week to be a full-time employee. Football players on a middle-to-bottom of the pack team dedicate more time to football than many full-time employees do to their jobs, yet these players are still considered amateurs. Clearly, this argument — the only true argument against paying college athletes — is ridiculous and invalid.
As for why college athletes should be paid, an exorbitant amount of money is made every year from ticket sales and the broadcasting of college sporting events. March Madness alone brought in over $1 billion in advertising revenue last year — more than the NBA, MLB, and NHL playoffs combined. And while it is not uncommon for NBA, MLB, and NHL players to make tens of millions of dollars, it is forbidden for NCAA players to make even a cent. Many will argue that college athletes are compensated for their efforts with scholarships, and while they are not wrong, scholarships alone hardly do enough to fairly reward student athletes for their efforts. The average athletic scholarship for a D1 athlete is anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 dollars a year — an impressive sum of money, no doubt, however the fair market value (estimated worth) on the average men’s college basketball player is more in the ballpark of $200,000. Thus, the average college basketball player is cheated out of a huge sum of money — money that the NCAA and colleges willingly pocket to pay for who knows what.
It is unjust for college athletes to not receive an appreciable portion of the revenue they generate and it is ignorant to argue against paying them because they are “amateurs.” College athletes work full-time jobs, training and preparing themselves physically and mentally for the challenges they are presented with. The industry of college sports is as much of a source of entertainment as is the industry of professional sports and yet, college athletes receive basically nothing, while professionals boast million dollar contracts. While with money often comes negative consequences, college athletes need to be given a chance to receive the financial compensation owed to them. College athletes need to be paid.