The NCAA is fighting a battle on numerous fronts. It is no secret that college athletes take money from boosters, alumni, and fans, all of which violates the rules of being an amateur college athlete. If you want to have a full athletic scholarship you must follow the rules or run the risk of losing your ability to play sports or even keep your scholarship. It seems unjust that colleges can make millions off of a players’ likeness in jersey sales, video games, and other merchandise and the player receives nothing. The current hot debate in the NCAA centers around if college athletes should be paid. While I believe the student should be entitled to some compensation, it may be an issue for the courts to decide.
Since there are currently no athletic teams where I go to school, the student athlete doesn’t take a center stage. When I was younger and getting my first Associate’s degree, I could have had the opportunity to play baseball if it weren’t for an elbow injury. My cousins both went to college on soccer scholarships. Both had the opportunity to play in off-season leagues that they would compensate them. The money they would make would help cover food and gas during the school year. This would terminate their amateur status, void their scholarships, and making it almost impossible to afford school. This is a core issue of the student athlete debate. Is it wrong for an athlete to make money from his talents when their college makes millions off of them?
Athletes taking money is nothing new. For decades players have received hundreds or thousands of dollars a season, all under the guise of “fan support”. What is shocking is how desperate many of these students are for an education, with sports being the only way to accomplish this goal. Players often do not have the option to live on campus; they are expected to find an off-campus apartment. Often the housing allowance doesn’t cover the rising cost of housing. Students find themselves trying to choose between paying the rent and eating. This is not what the college experience should be.
Houston Texans running back Arian Foster talked recently about taking money while at the University of Tennessee. With the student cafeteria closed on weekends, he had $87 a month to spend on food from the school. Eleven dollars a day for food for a 250 pound athlete doesn’t go very far. What happens is that bars close to campus offer free or reduced cost food with drink orders. The players get fed, but end up inebriated and at a higher risk for making bad decisions. The college takes no blame as they didn’t force the player to drink, but they also didn’t provide enough money for a player to feed himself any other way. One wrong decision and the star athlete ends up kicked out of school and back home in the projects with a bleak future.
If nothing else, the student athlete deserves some compensation. That is what is at the heart of the antitrust lawsuit filed against the NCAA. Former and current athletes feel that with the way college sports revenues have exploded over the last two decades, the current rules are outdated. When coaches are being paid seven figure contracts with eight figure improvements in the athletic department, how can there not be any money available to give money to the players? What example does this send to our youth? You need to excel in sports to go to college but keep an eye out for anyone willing to give you some extra money to live? The ethical issues are staggering. Since so few players ever make it professionally, their education is what they will use to better themselves with. If they take money to live they put their scholarship and entire career in jeopardy. We want and encourage our college students to make the most of their college experience, to graduate well rounded and prepared for the real world. Does this outdated and broken system help anyone besides the rich colleges? Ask the student athlete what he thinks; and bring him a sandwich … he is probably hungry.