Colleges have long maintained their student athletes are not employees and their athletic programs are not businesses. But the important thing is not labels but essence and it is not hard to understand the college athlete programs are run not much differently from professional sports leagues. Colleges can choose to call their athletic programs and student athletes by any name but that doesn’t change the fact its student athletes are, indeed, employees and should be treated as such which means they should be paid a fair compensation for their economic contributions to the colleges.
It is, indeed, true colleges provide different scholarships to students but academic scholarships require students to meet certain academic criteria such as GPA and course workload. Student athletes are not bound by any such academic requirements but often devote 40 or more hours to their athletic commitments . In other words, colleges hire them not for academic purpose but the value they add to the athletic program. The colleges’ lack of concerns with student athletes’ academic performance is an open secret on campus. Many students know student athletes do not always regularly attend classes and they often get easier assignments and tests which also implies colleges never recruited them on the basis of their scholastic aptitude.
College athletes should be paid because their efforts produce real economic value for the college. The college athletic programs are known to earn millions of dollars if not more and the hard work of the student athletes support employment for hundreds of college employees, whether directly or indirectly. Thus, it is only fair to compensate college student athletes more fairly because current scholarship levels do not adequately reflect the real contributions of the student athletes to their respective colleges.
College student athletes should be paid in order to encourage them to stay in college for longer instead of moving to professional leagues before graduation. It is important to understand college students often come from poor economic backgrounds and there is huge incentive for many of them to leave for professional sports leagues earlier. This only hurts the colleges in the long term, thus, it is not only fair to pay college student athletes but is also better for the college athletic programs in the long term. One cannot discount the ability of star student athletes to draw crowds during college games and the star student athletes are often the ones with the greatest temptation to join professional sports leagues earlier.
Colleges are known the exploit the marketing potential of their student athletes through merchandising efforts. It is yet another example of student athletes making valuable economic contributions to the college. The same cannot be said of regular students or those students on academic scholarships. In fact, it is highly likely regular students may sue the college for exploiting their personal brand without prior permission or formal business contract yet college student athletes do not receive any compensation. Thus, college student athletes should be paid because they are more like brands than regular students.
College student athletes should be paid because colleges hire them for their athletic potential and not their scholastic aptitude. Even contracts handed to student athletes put most emphasis on their athletic responsibilities. Student athletes help generate millions of dollars in revenue if not more and direct or indirectly support the employment of many people. Thus, it is only fair to pay them. It is not only right but also better for the college as it will encourage more student athletes to stay with their respective colleges until graduation.
- Los Angeles Times. “College football: It’s a job.” Los Angeles Times 28 March 2014: A14.