Should College Athletes Be Paid? Weighing Contributions and Fairness

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Sacrifices for Athletics: Time and Privacy

The topic “Should college athletes get paid” has become a very popular topic to discuss on the internet among social media users. One of the many responses made by people opposed to the idea of college athletes getting paid is that ‘They are already getting a scholarship! That is more than anybody else! Don’t be Greedy!’ In all honesty, it seems to be true, but a scholarship is not actually worth as much as people thought it was. According to the researcher, an average full Division 1 scholarship is worth $25,000 per year.

That adds up to $100,000 over four years considering the student-athlete stayed all four years and actually earned a degree. Yes, it seems to be a lot, but most college athletes do not last at their school for the whole four years. It is because once you get a sport involved, there are political issues, injuries, and a call to the office to tell the student-athletes, ‘Thanks, but we do not need you on this team anymore.’ (Edelman, web) This is one of the many reasons why college athletes should be paid. They deserve to be paid for their hard work and dedication and for helping their respective colleges and NCAA to make a huge amount of money.

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Should College Athletes Be Paid? Weighing Contributions and Fairness
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College athletes should be paid for their hard work and for their unquestionable dedication to their sports. According to Edelman, Division 1 college football players practice 43.3 hours per week. In comparison, even the typical American work week is slightly more than that number of hours with 47 hours, which only points out the fact that being a student-athlete is like working a full-time job. Furthermore, the 43.3 hours per week is just the team’s training session; top players who are striving for the best spend some more time practicing on their own after the team’s training session.

Alessi perfectly summed up the schedule of a student-athlete when she wrote, “The schedule of a student-athlete during a season is enough to make any adult want to pull their hair out. Typically, an athlete will wake up before dawn, work out, eat, and then go to an 8 or 9 am class. After that, they will get lunch, a little bit more class time, and then it is time for practice. Whether it is in a classroom studying film or out on the field, by late afternoon, they have already put in over a 10-hour workday.” (Alessi, web) Given the above quote from Alessi, it is logical and reasonable to assume that college athletes are one of the hardest-working people out there.

College athletes are selfless people and sacrifice their privacy and private time for their respective sports. In some colleges, coaches limit student-athlete speech on social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram, even when their sport is not in session. The limitation includes not being able to express themselves fully on social media and talk about anything that would do harm to the school or the team. As a citizen of this great country, everyone is permitted to express themselves freely in the form of free speech, but these people sacrifice their rights in exchange for their respective sports.

Moreover, the NCAA’s own tournament schedules cause student-athletes to miss some of their important classes on a regular basis. Researcher Marc Edelman perfectly described the schedule conflicts faced by student-athletes when he wrote, “The NCAA current Division 1 football championship games are played on Monday night. In 2014, the national football championship game required Florida State football players to miss the first day of spring classes. Students, who are attending either a division one school or a division two school, are aware of the privileges these athletes receive and how much class time they miss.

A tournament here, a travel day here, the time out of the classroom adds up quickly.” (Edelman, web) In addition, the NCAA Men’s basketball tournaments are several weeks long and cause student-athletes to miss a minimum of six days of class. If they were any other regular college student, after two or three days of missing senior-level classes, they would end up in an absolute dismissal. (Alessi, web)

Financial Disparity and Missed Compensation

College athletes should be paid for helping the NCAA makes money. According to researcher Edelman, “The NCAA currently produces nearly $11 Billion in annual revenue from college sports, which is even more than the estimated total league revenues of both the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League.” (Edelman, web) Moreover, the NCAA recently signed with CBS for a $10.8 billion television agreement over 14 years. (Tyson, web)

These facts obviously point out that the NCAA is making a lot of money through college sports. College athletes should be paid for being the main source of their college to make money and for helping to increase the application rate. For instance, ‘The year that Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie won the Heisman Trophy as the nation’s outstanding college football player, Boston College’s undergraduate admissions increased by 25 points, and its average SAT score of admitted freshmen skyrocketed by 110 points.

Meanwhile, Patrick Ewing’s basketball performance during the 1982-83 NCAA season helped generate a forty-seven percent increase in undergraduate applications and a forty-point rise in freshman SAT scores during the following admissions cycle at Georgetown University.’ (Edelman, web) Furthermore, according to Forbes News, the University of Alabama made $143.3 million in the 2013-2014 NCAA season, which is even more than all thirty NHL teams and twenty-five NBA teams. Adrian Peterson, the famous NFL player, said, ‘Players are the ones making these universities money’ and pointed out that both he and Johnny Manziel make a ton of money for their respective schools. ‘Johnny Manziel made Texas A&M so much money,’ he said. ‘When I was in Oklahoma, they made so much money.” (Goessling, web)

Athletes are the ones that are making money, but the money does not go to them; instead, it goes to coaches, administrators, and athletic directors and is spent on remodeling stadiums and gyms. According to researcher Tyson, “Many coaches earn at least $100,000 per year to coach one of the major sports like baseball, basketball, or football at colleges. These coaches will receive bonuses for getting to the playoffs, winning championships, or breaking school records.”

However, the players, who really make the money, do not get this kind of bonus or money, not even a penny. For example, “Last year, the average salary for a BCS eligible football coach was $2.05 million, and the average salary for a premier NCAA Division I men’s basketball coach also exceeded $1 million.” (Edelman, web) According to the Forbes news, Alabama’s football coach Nick Saban will receive $7 million per year from his new contract with the school. Similarly, TCU spent $104 million to reconstruct Amon G. Carter Stadium’s west side and the north end zone in August 2010. (Huma, web) These are just a few proofs that clearly show how the money is heavily spent on coaches, administrators, athletic directors, and stadiums instead of student-athletes.

Challenges Faced by Student-Athletes: Sacrifices and Priorities

The reason many people are still not in favor of paying college athletes because they still buy into the myth of amateur athletics and still think college athletics is not as big as professional athletics. In fact, college athletes are just as much of big business as professional sports. The only difference between the two is that in college sports, the money goes into the pocket of coaches, athletic directors, conference commissioners, and sports media executives, while at a professional level, the players actually reap the fruits of their hard work and earn a generous salary. One might argue that college athletes are already provided with free education and free tuition, which is more than enough money and generous enough, but they don’t know the fact that education is not guaranteed, it relies on the player’s health and performance on the field. In fact, one bad season on the field might end up costing a student-athlete his or her scholarship.

In reality, education always comes second to athletes in many divisions, one school that is competing for the National title. The focus on winning and performing at the highest level is so apparent and real that student-athletes do not even have the time to focus on classes and get a proper education. Moreover, being a student-athlete might also come at a great price. Student athletes Researcher Brian Frederick wrote, “Fans do not know the lifetime of health care bills that await some student-athletes in contact sports.

How can a free education compensate them for debilitating injuries caused during their time on campus? And how can we as fans truly enjoy a game knowing that one player’s career-ending injury will leave him saddled with nothing more than a lifetime of pain and doctor’s bills?” (Frederick, Web) Furthermore, student-athletes are more likely to report stress from not getting enough sleep compared to non-athlete students. They are likely to sleep less and work many hours longer than non-athletes. They also reported significantly greater levels of relationship stress due to the increased number of responsibilities related to involvement in athletics. They carry more responsibilities than regular students in many ways. (Wilson, web)

College athletes are some of the most hardworking people and carry many responsibilities on their shoulders. They are fully dedicated to their sports, spending most of their time at practice, in gyms, and on the fields, striving to be the best they can be for the team while also striving in their classes. Student-athletes are the reason why the NCAA and their respective schools are making millions of money. Not only do they help their respective colleges to make money, but they also help increase the application rate. They are the main reason why the NCAA and Colleges are making a ton of money, but they are not being paid a penny for their work other than a scholarship that is not even guaranteed for the whole four years. Student-athletes should be paid for their hard work and dedication and for helping their respective colleges and NCAA to make money.


  1. Alessi Dominic. 5 Reasons Why NCAA Athletes Should Be Paid. The Richest. 28 March. 2014. Web. 19 February. 2019.
  2. Edelman Marc. 21 Reasons Why Student-Athletes are Employees and Should Be Allowed to Unionize. Forbes. 30 Jan. 2014. Web. 19 February. 2019.
  3. Frederick Brian. Fans Must Understand That College Sports is Big Business. Debate Club. 1 April. 2013. Web. 19 February. 2019.
  4. Goessling Ben. Adrian Peterson backs to pay for play. ESPN. 11 April. 2014. Web. 19 February. 2019.
  5. Huma Ramogi. A Fair Day’s Pay for a Fair Day’s Work. Debate Club. 1 April. 2013. Web. 19 February. 2019.
  6. Tyson Hartnett. Why College Athletes Should be Paid. Huffington Post. 21 October. 2013. Web. 19 February. 2019.
  7. Wilson Gregory. Comparing Sources of Stress in College Student-Athletes and Non-Athletes.
  8. Athletic Insight. No Date. Web. 19 February. 2019.

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Should College Athletes Be Paid? Weighing Contributions and Fairness. (2023, Aug 15). Retrieved from

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