Paying College Athletes Essay, Research Paper
Pay College Athletes
Sports have always been one of American’s favorite pastimes. Americans love the thrill of hard competition. College athletics has always been at the heart of this. It has always been something more pure than professional athletics. In recent years college athletics has changed for the worse. Players have drifted away from what it used to mean to play college sports. They have fallen into illegal activities and have left fans disappointed. One of the reasons for this change is the lack of funds for the players. There are many benefits to paying college athletes.
In many cases, scholarship athletes are treated differently than academic scholarship recipients. There are unnecessary National Collegiate Athletic Association rules that restrict and even punish scholarship athletes. Embarrassed when one of its nonsensical rules was challenged in court by sophomore running back Darnell Autry of Northwestern, the sorry-you-can’t-do-that specialist on Overland Park, Kansas rounded up enough members of their Administrative Review Panel (ARP) to over turn the original ruling and grant a waiver to Autry that allows him to accept a bit part in a feature film called The Eighteenth Angel (McCallum, 1996). It is not right that a football player, who loves drama, is not allowed to perform with his class and be treated the same way. The rest of Autry’s class was to get paid for their performance but because of this he was originally not even permitted to perform with them. He was eventually allowed to perform but was not paid for his performance that every other student in the class was to be compensated for.
Something needs to change in the rulebooks regarding the absurd rules. The Autry case was not the first case that protested a useless rule in the N.C.A.A. rules and procedures. And remember that the troublesome bylaw that almost tripped up Autry is still on the books, undoubtedly to be changed again (McCallum, 1996). Some of the rules are old fashioned and useless in today’s society. Darnell Autry is in a drama class and the N.C.A.A. is hurting his education by limiting his experience in that class. The N.C.A.A. should not have jurisdiction over a players earnings outside his sports participation. The rules need to be looked at and changed. Even if each and every one of its ruler-to-the-wrist statutes was written for a sound reason, the collective impact is that the N.C.A.A.’s treatment of the student-athlete has become capricious, unnecessarily punitive and hopelessly out-of-date (McCallum, 1996).
One of the biggest complaints lately from college basketball fans is that to many athletes are leaving college early to enter the draft. Now some athletes are going straight from high school to the NBA and skipping college altogether. A record number of athletes who are still eligible to play college ball have entered next month’s National Basketball Association draft, and have plans for two new professional leagues for teen-agers threaten to diminish the talent pool for college teams (Blum, 1996). This upsets fans because they don’t get to see the best players. The nations top high-school player, Kobe Bryant, was one of three seniors this year to declare themselves eligible for the draft (Blum, 1996). Fans will follow a team through bad years and good years but if a team has a good year many of its players consider leaving college for the big money in the National Basketball Association. Fans like to get to know a team and support it but become frustrated because of players leaving.
Officials of big-time basketball programs are taking a new look at their sport-arguably the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s most popular and lucrative-which is beset by worries that it can no longer hang on to or perhaps even attract the game’s biggest stars (Blum, 1996). The biggest reason for ball players to skip out on college and to enter into the draft is because of the big money. Many players come from poor families and bad run down neighborhoods. They want an education but they do not want to miss out on a chance to make money. They also do not have enough money to pay for things that scholarships will not pay for. They should get paid a limited amount to help them live and enjoy college. That way players can get an education and then, if they choose, enter the draft after graduation.
The lack of money for the players will many times entice them to fall into illegal activities. One of the illegal activities they might fall into is gambling. Boston College has announced a range of punishments for 21 students who allegedly placed or handled illegal bets on sporting events (Haworth, 1997). In November the college removed two players from its football team and suspended 11 others from the team-about 14 percent of the roster-after an investigation by the college and the local District Attorney’s office showed that the players had bet on college and professional sporting events (Haworth, 1997). Some of the athletes that were caught gambling were even betting against there own team. This shows the desperation these players feel if they are betting against their own team.
Another illegal activity that athletes fall into is accepting gifts from sporting agents. This can have a huge effect on the team and on the player’s future. The National Collegiate Athletic Association has demanded that the university of Connecticut return $90,000 that it received after its men’s basketball team reached the semifinals of the 1996 championship tournament (Naughton, 1997). Two of the team’s players had accepted gifts from a sporting agent and were therefore ineligible to compete, according to the N.C.A.A. (Naughton, 1997). The agent doesn’t care if the athlete gets caught. If he gets caught, the athlete is no longer eligible to play in college so his only option is to play professional sports. This works out nicely for the agent since he can not be paid if the player is in college. This is why the agent will give athletes gifts. Marcus Camby, whose dealings with sports agents led to that penalty, said he would make a donation to the university in the same amount (Naughton, 1996). Mr. Camby now plays for the Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association (Naughton, 1997).
Point shaving has always been one of the biggest problems regarding illegal activity and college athletics. There have been many instances where college basketball players have either been caught or were accused of shaving points. One of the most recent cases was only a few months ago when Northwestern basketball players were caught shaving points. Players fall to this illegal activity because they want or are in need of more money. Many have little funds to start with so it is easier for them to accept a gift or to shave points. If athletes were paid by the colleges, they might not as easily fall into illegal activities.
College athletics is a huge market. Colleges profit greatly off big-time college sports. Why shouldn’t the athletes? They are the ones that the fans come to see and are therefore responsible for bringing money to the college. The CBS network agreed in 1994 to pay $1.7 billion to broadcast the tournament (men’s college basketball tournament) for the following eight years (Economist, 1996). Not only is this a big money maker for advertising it is big for everyone. Behind the super bowl it is the biggest gambling event. In short, everyone from the winner of the office pool to the mandarins of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which regulates college sport, will make a tidy buck from the event (Economist, 1996). Everyone, that is, except the athletes (Economist, 1996).
Not only are athletes not getting paid for their sport but they are not even allowed to take other jobs. They are not even allowed to take jobs in the college library or the local McDonalds (Economist, 1996). Violate the rules and the price is expulsion (Economist, 1996). Some might think that the athletes payment is the scholarship, but this can be taken away. They run for one year at a time; break a leg or gain fifty pounds over the summer, and the scholarship can be revoked-no matter how good the athlete is in class (Economist, 1996). The college is gambling on who is going to be the best, but in reality the college can not lose. They give only the top athletes scholarships in hopes that these are going to be the stars and bring them money, but if the college realizes that a player is not worth scholarship money it is taken away. What is a player supposed to do if he isn’t allowed to play his sport and his money for school is taken away? If colleges really care about the education of big-sport athletes they should keep the halls open to athletes after the pro dream evaporates (Easterbrook, 1998).
For many players their dream is to get a contract to play for a professional team, but few players will end up in a professional league. There are ten times as many first-division college teams as professional ones. Many players will get neither a degree nor a contract (Economist, 1996). And, since they have been so well protected against commercial exploitation, they will not have made a dollar from their greatest skill (Economist, 1996). Some of the best college players in the nation will have no financial or educational benefits after their years of eligibility are up. They made the college money but they didn’t receive a cent and now they have nothing to do with their life. College athletes should be paid part of what the college is pulling in. This would eliminate athletic corruption while benefiting the athletes. All big businesses pay their employees. Shouldn’t colleges pay those who bring in their money?
The National Collegiate Athletic Association does have some good programs that help athletes in need. Each year for the past five years, the association has distributed $3-million among its 33 division 1 conferences, which have given the money to athletes with special financial needs (Mangan, 1995). This is a great program but there still needs to be more. If these athletes were paid a designated amount of money they would not need financial aid. They should at least be allowed to work to obtain money. If their family has little funds to spare the athlete has no legal way of paying for anything that the scholarship doesn’t cover.
There are many benefits to paying college athletes. Some players in college don’t have much money and because of this many people suffer. The fans suffer because players leave college early for the draft. Since some of the players have little money they have an increased chance to fall into illegal activities. Illegal activities such as point shaving, gambling, and accepting money from agents. It is not right that the players are not paid and are not allowed to have a job. Everyone else makes money from college athletics except the athletes. The college, gamblers, advertisers, television stations, and coaches all make money. The players are the only ones who don’t make money and they are the ones the fans come to see. For the future of college athletics the players should be paid.