By Jonny Parshall | Opinions Editor
Should student athletes be paid? Maybe perhaps not a salary, but to suggest they not make some profit from their names and likenesses is downright inhumane.
I will use football as a model. During the early 20th century, colleges and universities were the only institutes willing to invest money in this relatively young American sport. Professional leagues and teams existed, but had nowhere near the money available to host and travel such sporting spectacle as the schools. And since these leagues have merged and morphed to become what is now the NFL, professional football still makes nowhere near the cash flow as the NCAA. Mind you, this is mostly due to the shear number of college teams performing.
But still, a lot has changed. Universities make a lot of money, much on sport, and much of which on the licensing of the names and likenesses of college players. It’s their face, their name, their squad number. In what other sector of the American economy is this acceptable?
If I want to sell cereal boxes featuring Nicolas Cage’s face, you’re damn right I’m writing Nic a check. To use the excuse, “Yeah, but they’re playing for their scholarship” simply does not fulfill the argument.
One way of looking at the matter is comparing the North American student-athlete system with the scouting and drafting systems of other countries. Yes, university athletes in other countries often promote to the pros. But schools are not their primary scouting markets. Only in North America will you find full-time athletes training for professional play and NOT getting paid.
Most countries — again, a major generalization, depending on sport — either use the academy system or a farm leagues system. The upside to these systems is athletes are able to focus more on their skills and career earlier, and typically play professionally at a younger age, extending their career.
The downside to these systems is players often lack training in other fields, potentially inhibiting their success if sports doesn’t pan out. However, what they do have is perhaps enough money to begin a modest investment.
The systems are different, and thus mentioning, but clearly not a perfect alternative.
What I draw from this comparison is preparation. While we may be preparing student athletes for life after sports skillswise, we offer them nothing in real compensation. And while drafting a full salary contract does, indeed, detract from the amateur spirit of the game, that “amateur spirit” is a figment of the past. To believe otherwise is to ignore a century’s worth of growth in a multibillion-dollar industry.
Yet simply cutting them a proceeds check for sales and likeness rights is not a salary, and whether or not you believe in the amateur nature of college sports, it should be seen as a mere supplement and not a primary incentive. Call it a little nest egg. So if a star athlete snaps his ACL or fails to draft, he or she has five figures in the bank to fall back on. And while Californian schools will profit first with the best signings, perhaps, the remaining states will eventually fall in line and adapt.
You can’t stop capitalism at its strongest. You can only prolong it.
By Greg Williams | Torch Reporter
College athletics: young student-athletes competing at a high level, with love and passion for the game. It is some of the most entertaining and competitive competition that we see in America.
They get to play a game that help pays for a four-year education and a degree from a college or university. But wait … people want to ruin this by paying athletes and moving away from the “amateur student athlete” that makes up the whole idea of being a collegiate athlete?
California passed a law stating students at public or private universities will be able to hire an agent and profit off their image, names and likeliness starting in 2023. A bill that the NCAA is opposed to and a bill that is threatening what we know as college sports.
I believe that student-athletes should not be paid. The premise of being a college athlete is being an amateur. This means you do not get paid for your sport because it is not a profession. Most players would not benefit from this law, it’s about getting a degree and using your sport as a tool in life, and it’s about your love of the game.
The players we are talking about in this situation are not your average players. We refer to the Zion Williamsons (first overall pick in 2019 NBA Draft), the Trevor Lawrences (Quarterback at Clemson), the best players in the nation on the best teams. No offense, but the third string point guard on a Division 3 team is not going to be getting paid. So, a very small percentage of college athletes will even be able to have the opportunity to get paid.
Now, for the Zion Williamsons it is a little unfair that he cannot profit off being so popular. However, that is not the NCAA’s problem. This is the professional leagues not allowing athletes to go right from high school to the pros. If you are that popular and that talented. You should be able to skip college and go right to the pros where you can make all the money you want. By letting a few players be able to get agents and make money is taking the idea of being a college kid playing a game you love away.
The main reason for going to college is so you can get a degree, graduate and better yourself for later in life. When you are a student-athlete your main goal is being a STUDENT before being an athlete. You are using your talent and skill to help get that education paid for. The last recorded data on D1 college athletes making it to the next level was the 2017-2018 season. For baseball, only 9.2% will play in professional baseball.
For men’s basketball, only 1.2% will play professional basketball. For football, only 1.6% will play professional football. Student athletes need to understand that at some point the ball will stop bouncing. You will have to move on from your sport and do something else with your life. Student athletes need to get away from the selfish self-centered society that we have and use their craft as a tool in life.
Using their sport and getting into a good college where you can help pay some of those bills. Learning from the leadership and team cohesiveness that will help you when you have a job. Getting out and serving the community and remembering that life is bigger than basketball and you can make a difference. Learning from the struggles and adversity and being able to overcome those things. If you pay players, then all of these reasons may be compromised. Instead of these wholesome reasons as primary priorities, players’ biggest priorities will be how much they earn.
When were kids why do we play sports? We get to spend time with our friends. We get to smile and laugh and learn about competition. Most importantly, we get to do something that we love and enjoy doing. We do it for no money and no benefits. Why do we play sports in high school? For the same reasons. We get to spend quality time with our friends doing the thing we love and enjoy. For some lucky student athletes, they are good enough to show off their skills and get noticed by a college. So, they can go to a university on a scholarship and continue playing the game they love while getting an education. College athletics is so pure and so natural. You have 18- to 22-year-old kids flying around and giving it everything they got. They sacrifice their bodies, their minds, and their social life because they love it. They play for the teammate next to them because they put in all the sweat, blood, tears with that person. They play hard because they have developed relationships with players, coaches, fans and do not want to let them down. They are playing because they want to beat their rival school and have bragging rights for a whole year. They are not worried about their paycheck; or when they get their shoe deal; or when they are shooting a commercial.
At the end of the day college athletics is about working with people and creating relationships. It’s about going away to a university for four years and calling it your home. It’s about going to school and learning life lessons that will carry you through your life. If you start paying college athletes all that goes away. The rich tradition and the passion we see goes out the door. You will start seeing egos as we do in professional sports. You will see people start to be entitled and think about themselves first rather than their teammates. You will see student athletes playing for money and fame rather than the love and passion for the game. This will ruin what makes college sports so great.