Imagine playing or practicing sports almost all the time, just for you not to be paid a dime. It is not fair at all. College athletes are not too different from professional athletes, so why are they not being paid? They generate revenue and put their bodies on the line while entertaining the masses. For these and many other reasons, College athletes should be paid.
One of the reasons college athletes should be paid is because they generate revenue for their schools. Mark J. Drozdowski, a sports writer, states, “College athletes make their schools millions of dollars, so they should naturally receive a cut of the action. This argument holds true, especially for football and basketball players, who become household names during their respective seasons.” College sports, especially basketball and football, are very popular. Skillful athletes make the games more entertaining, which causes others to want to watch the games. This results in the athletes’ schools making a lot of money, but the athletes doing the actual work are not getting anything in return. Drozdowski goes on to explain “The Department of Education reported that college athletic programs collected $14 billion in total revenue in 2019, up from $4 billion in 2003.” If the schools are generating a profit from rising popularity, it only makes sense that the reasons for their increased revenue are compensated fairly. For example, Zach Edey, a famous college basketball player, makes his school Purdue a lot of money. He brings in crowds to watch his games but does not receive payment in return.
Another reason college athletes should be paid for their work is that they risk injury every single time they play or practice their sport. Drozdowski argues that “Athletes constantly risk injury and therefore deserve proper compensation. A seriously injured athlete could lose their scholarship (which is guaranteed only for one year at a time).” It is unjust to have athletes put their bodies on the line for their school and sport, but not give them compensation in return. Athletes can even lose money if they get injured seriously enough, which can“…jeopardize their opportunity to play professionally and potentially earn millions, or even face lifelong disability if the damage is permanent.” Austin Nunez is a college basketball player but is unable to play for his team due to a concussion. Injuries like this are common, but severe, and can even cause long-lasting damage to the athletes’ health. Paying athletes for playing during their time in college gives them revenue to fall back on while they try to find their footing and navigate a new playing field, in other words, not playing a sport.
Others may argue that college athletes get full scholarships, and therefore do not need to be paid any further. They claim this opportunity is more than enough for the players since “…over 150,000 Division I and Division II student-athletes receive $2.9 billion in scholarships each year.” While true that college athletes get scholarships, most only receive partial scholarships, and “The average scholarship is roughly $18,000, which doesn’t cover out-of-state tuition and fees at most public schools or the total cost of attending a private school. In short, most college athletes on scholarships aren’t receiving a full ride.” On average, the amount of money that college athletes receive from scholarships does not even cover the full tuition, let alone provide money for basic necessities like groceries, shelter, and other utilities. A salary would be very beneficial to the players because it would give them enough money to pay for these necessities.
In conclusion, college athletes should be paid because they generate revenue for their schools and put their bodies on the line. While others may think that college athletes receiving scholarships is enough compensation, this is false. Most college athletes only receive partial scholarships and generally do not get any additional money to pay for basic necessities and utilities. These reasons outweigh the claim that scholarships are enough payment for college athletes.
Ibrahem Almajid – Latin School of Chicago – DMSF Class of 2027