Since the late 1800s, sports have been an important cultural phenomenon in American history. College athletics has been a popular facet of American life; the last national college football championship game was the second most watched program on ESPN in history, and has brought in the top 7 highest rankings for ESPN. Most of the money made by the National Collegiate Athletic Association is secured by broadcasting contracts with companies like ESPN to air their games. Top college coaches have salaries that are more than a million dollars. College athletes, while given scholarships to attend college for virtually free, are only given small stipends of cash, and they are not allowed to take payments for things such as their autographs or merchandise. In essence, the billions of dollars in profits that they generate go to the institutions they play for, not them.
Students, while being provided with an education and room and board, are not guaranteed any other form of compensation for going out of the field. Even worse, if injured, college athletes are not entitled to have their healthcare costs covered or workers compensation. Universities, while making egregious amounts of money because of these kids and their labor, claim that students, as ‘amateurs’, do not work for the university officially and are not owed anything in the event that they incur a career changing injury. Not only are student athletes not entitled to workers comp, they are at risk for losing their scholarships for the next semester year should they get hurt and no longer be able to play for their college’s team. The NCAA scholarships contractually only last for a single year and then must be renewed.
In a study done by the National College Players association and Drexel University, a college athlete only receives $23,204 in scholarship earnings per year. When compared to how much professional sports players make, most college athletes from top colleges would make close to a million dollars a year.
Taylor Branch, historian and author of the book “The Shame of College Sports” says, “For all the outrage, the real scandal is not that students are getting illegally paid or recruited, it’s that two of the noble principles on which the NCAA justifies its existence—“amateurism” and the “student-athlete”—are cynical hoaxes, legalistic confections propagated by the universities so they can exploit the skills and fame of young athletes. The tragedy at the heart of college sports is not that some college athletes are getting paid, but that more of them are not.”
College athletes deserve to be compensated for their effort, time, and contribution and not hindered by the greed of older adults. They take financial, educational, and physical risks that are far too great to not be quantified and respected by the NCAA and the universities that benefit from their policies.