Why College Athletes Should Be Paid

  • Jason Whitney

The debate over whether or not college athletes should be paid has been heating up in recent years. As college sports increase in popularity, so does the money they make.  With college sports programs making millions on the backs of their athletes, its high time for college athletes to be compensated for their services.

We get it. They’re getting a full-ride scholarship – and, often, the fame that comes with playing for a big college program. But in comparison to the profits that college teams make every year, that’s not enough. Look no further than Johnny “Football” Manziel and the Aggies.

With Manziel at QB, the Texas A&M football team collected a school-record $740 million dollars in 2012, up from $300 million dollars the year before. This figure even dwarfs the state record of $453 million previously set by UT – easily the most recognized collegiate program.


Would the Aggies have made that much money without fan favorite – and headline-maker – Manziel at the helm? It’s doubtful. But did Manziel get a chunk of that change? No way.


And if you look closer, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. College sports programs – especially big, successful football and basketball programs – make huge profits from their athletes. But the athletes themselves see very few benefits.

College athletics programs stand to make a lot of money from their athletes – including through merchandise. Many college stores and sports outfitters sell jerseys from some of the best college sports programs – but the players aren’t getting paid.

That’s because college sports merchandise doesn’t include the name of the player – just their number. The same is true for college sports video games. Games use the stats and numbers of college players, but not their names. No name, no compensation required – even when the identity of the player is clearly recognizable.


Merchandise makes tons of money for college sports programs. But what about the players? Well, they’re not being paid – legally, at least. And that’s not fair. Even the NCAA has taken a stand, removing all team merchandise from their online store.

Poor College Students
It’s true that some college athletes enjoy special status at their schools. Look no further than the Oklahoma State scandal. But most of these athletes are the same as every other college student – broke.


At the same time, other students have a luxury that most college athletes do not – the ability to hold down a job. Demanding schedules year-round – as well as heightened academic expectations – prevent many college athletes from supporting themselves with part-time jobs.
Getting through college without an income is tough for any student – let alone one that has a strict regimen to adhere to. That’s not even considering college athletes that come from low-income homes who want to get to the next level to provide for their families.


And the cost isn’t just monetary. College athletes don’t get the same perks as other students – like school breaks, parties, and time to relax. Instead, they have practices, games, road trips and mandatory study halls.
Money Abounds
The worst part? Many college programs can more than afford to pay their athletes. While some programs make more than others, the biggest college sports programs make huge profits – from merchandise, ticket sales, donations, and TV and Internet streaming contracts through companies such as Time Warner or Verizon. The Big 10, the SEC and the ACC have even taken steps toward forming their own sports networks, which will rake in even more.


With the kind of money that college programs are making, it’s time for athletes to get a piece of the pie.

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