Essay Example on Should College Athletes Be Paid


The question of whether college athletes should be getting paid has been asked for many years. Some believe that Universities and the NCAA have been profiting far too much from these college players and the programs they play for, while others believe that scholarships are a fair compensation for the athletes. Regardless of the stance you take, there still seems to be an ethical issue at hand. The NCAA as well as Universities and Colleges seem to be benefiting from the labor of student athletes. Some of the NCAA and Universities' benefits include financial compensation, viewership on television, and school recruitment. Whereas on the student athletes' side they are putting in a lot of time, effort, and potentially risking their health to be able to play at a collegiate level. The main ethical question here would be whether student athletes are being exploited by not being paid. Some underlying ethical issues would also include topics such as diversity, and gender equality. College football is one of the biggest money makers there is when it comes to college sports, “The Department of Education reported that college athletic programs collected $14 billion in total revenue in 2019... And that doesn't include income from broadcasting rights and corporate sponsorships” (Drozdowski). 14 billion dollars is quite a bit of money being made in a business where the model revolves around fresh young talent using their athletic abilities for the price of going to school. The lucky student athletes receive a scholarship that allows for some of their tuition to be paid for by the university. Most scholarships for student athletes are not full ride, “The average scholarship is roughly $18,000, which doesn't cover out-of-state tuition and fees at most public schools or the total cost of attending a private school” (Drozdowski).

One of the bigger issues within this topic would be sports merch and memorabilia. Universities, colleges, as well as various retailers sell sports merch like jerseys, shirts, and a plethora of other accessories often with specific players' names or their pictures on them. However, college athletes do not see any of the profits, “When Nike sells an $80 Clemson University jersey with quarterback Trevor Lawrence's name and number on it, shouldn't he get a cut of the profits” (Drozdowski). A notable football school, University of Louisville, “generate about $45 million a year in revenue. They give out 13 scholarships. That adds up to about $400,000 a year” (Britanica). The rest of the $45 million they are making annually goes to “the coach, who makes $8 million a year, to the assistant coaches, who make as much as a half-million dollars a year. All throughout the athletic department, people are making six-figure salaries. It does not go to the players, what I call the unpaid workforce” (Britanica). The University of Louisville is not alone here, “81 other head football coaches made more than $1 million annually and another 29 more than $500,000” (Britanica). College athletes are the main attraction of college sports and are not being paid for their work, in fact the NCAA also forbade players from getting compensation from endorsement deals, until recently that is. “The NCAA's decision last month on name, image and likeness rules (or NIL rules) has cleared the way for college sports players to earn money by endorsing products and services from companies” (Brooks). The NCAA’s decision to allow college athletes to earn money through endorsements for products and services is a good start, however, this still means that the NCAA is still getting all the profits while the college athletes must rely on outside sources to make money. Some players will be fortunate enough to receive high value deals that can make them a lot of money, like “Hercy Miller, an incoming Tennessee State University basketball player, signed a $2 million endorsement with tech company Web Apps America” (Brooks). These endorsement deals sadly will not help many of the student athletes out there though. To receive a deal like Hercy’s you must be a valuable player, “The 19-year-old, ranked as one of 2021's top 100 recruits by ESPN, signed the four-year deal before even setting foot on campus” (Brooks).

One benefit to these endorsement deals is that it could potentially eliminate the “one and done” rule. One and done refers to student athletes who go to college for one year and then go pro, to start making the money that they deserve. With the incorporation of endorsement deals it could make players want to stay longer or potentially all 4 years before they go pro. Through these NIL rules that allow endorsement deals, student athletes can now be compensated financially for autograph sales, merchandise sales, training lessons, summer camps, and sponsored videos on social media.This still raises the question of why the NCAA is not paying its athletes? The NCAA relies on something called amateurism, stating that, “college athletes are not professionals and therefore do not need to be compensated. The NCAA believed that providing scholarships and stipends to athletes was sufficient” (McInerney). This is wrong ethically; it does not adhere to the rule of equity and sufficiency. Equity refers to “seeking justice for all involved in controversial issues and treating all sources and subjects equally” (Wilkins 48). While the endorsement deals are an incredibly good start, and are much better than not being compensated at all, there still needs to be a payment option for every student athlete, not just the biggest and best student athletes who will likely turn pro. Sufficiency refers to “allocating adequate resources to important issues” (Wilkins 48). There is no reason why the NCAA should be making 14 billion dollars while the main attraction of the business, the student athletes, get next to nothing. There needs to be a larger spread of wealth between the NCAA offices, the universities, their staff, and their student athletes. Ethics relies on moral principles, the NCAA most likely knows that what they are doing is wrong ethically, they are using the student athletes as a steppingstone to a pile of cash. To make matters even worse they do not even give the student athletes financial compensation, so that the NCAA can make even more money.

The main reason why anyone even pays attention to collegiate sporting events is because of the players and the incredibly athletic things that they can do. Without the student athletes the NCAA would not have a business to profit from. Which is all the more reason why the NCAA should have to use a portion of the 14 billion dollars they make annually to pay their student athletes.

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