Being a College Athlete

Jonathan Goldstein

There is nothing easy about college athletics. Even if you love the sport that you are playing and enjoy being around your teammates every hour of every day, college athletes face daily problems that are underrepresented and not made public.  The NCAA as a non-profit organization makes a lot more money than you would expect. Their affiliation with TV rights, advertisements, and use of the logo has created a multi- billion dollar a year empire that someone has to be enjoying. The issue currently surrounding college sports is should players particularly on football and basketball teams should get paid for participation in college athletics. Some argue that players already do get paid.

As most Division 1 and 2 athletes are on some form of scholarship, they do not accumulate debt by accessing higher education. In effect not having to worry about student loans for 10 years following college is viewed by some to be the same as getting paid. However, others particularly the legal advisors to the NCAA disagree. Scholarships are simply rewards to the talented and they are in no way shape or form a method of payment. For some people a full scholarship is not enough to cover the external cost associated with higher education, being away from home, alone, and in different climates that require heavy and expensive clothes that some people simply cannot afford.

The Big breakthrough in terms of athlete unionization came on May 26th 2014 when a judge in Chicago ruled that, “Northwestern’s scholarship football players should be eligible to form a union based on a number of factors, including the time they devote to football (as many as 50 hours some weeks), the control exerted by coaches and their scholarships, which Mr. Ohr deemed a contract for compensation.” (Eder) While this ruling has been viewed as a victory for the players, others believe that it could be a death sentence for the NCAA as an organization.  

Mark Emmert is the president of the NCAA and vehemently believes that unionization will cause traumatic collateral damage. “He calls a union for college athletes “a grossly inappropriate solution to the problem” that would “blow up everything about the collegiate model of athletics.”(Doyel) To me, college athletes are treated as commodities.  In hoop dreams, Arthur and William were viewed as treasures to the privileged white school and not fully accepted. People are in awe of their talents but they are not being fully rewarded for effort that they put forth every day for both themselves and the reputation of the school.

Athletes, regardless of their skin color or skill level have one thing in common; they play because they love their respective sports. As you advance in abilities and mature, the demand for perfection get greater and training gets much harder. In college, even at the divisions 3 level players train so much during season that it consumes their lives and distracts from other opportunities that non-athletes have. At the same time, the demand for excellence is so great and the taxing that the sport has on the body is painful.  College representatives in student government get paid for fulfilling the duties of political and ethical structure of the study body, it seems only fair that the entertainment also gets paid even a meager amount for their devotion and effort.     

Doyel, Gregg, CBS Sports, April 10th

Eder, Steve. New York Times, March 26th 



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