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NCAA : Why It’s Time To Pay Up And Give Student-Athletes What They Deserve


(Harry How/Getty Images North America)
(Harry How/Getty Images North America)

On September 17th, 1787, the constitution of the United States of America was signed and with it the birth of a nation.

The preamble of this document, the same one that discusses the fundamental values of our country, it reads “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice…” The key part of this is to establish justice. Justice, according to Merriam Webster dictionary is “the quality of being fair”. Being in the preamble, this means the USA prides itself in equality.

It is safe to say the the economic system in the US is mostly seen as a free market system, which reflects that this belief. A free market, according to business dictionary is “an economic system in which prices and wages are determined by unrestricted competition between businesses, without government regulation or fear of monopolies.” In other words, it is simply the quality of the product or service that determines pay, and nothing else. This country also requires a worker’s wage, meaning that slavery does not exist. So why in a several billion-dollar industry, are the people raking in the money not being paid?

Why is it going to the higher institutions?

This is the industry of college football. The players who make the money, get no payment in return. Of course why should anyone care? The answer is simple, cause as American most don’t care.

Yet, these people have a religion and gain a moral sense of what is right and what is wrong. Most people are in agreement that if an individual helps an organization make money a system in place for compensation. People need to care as it’s going around at these institutions and those who have gone allow this to happen by funding and attending collegiate events.

That alone is why it needs to get cared about. Th athletes who help to make billions of dollars receive none of it and not authority to make a change the NCAA’s perspective.

Fans do have the opportunity to do so.

Number one priority for any business is their customers. So the NCAA will listen. College athletes need to get paid and the organization fails to recognize its players as workers, which is an abysmal assessment.

Making non payment a major issue, yet in order for that to become an accurate statement is to recognize those playing college athletics, workers.  According to Marc Edelman of Forbes Magazine, the average NCAA athlete devotes 43.3 hours of work per week. That is 3.3 additional hours than the average American worker. Edelman adds that at some schools a number of players may miss up to a quarter of their classes for the NCAA March Madness Tournament.

This gets disregarded by the NCAA that by claiming “that they are amateurs.” The President of the NCAA “one of the guiding principles of the NCAA is that it is students playing sports”. Yet, that would imply that it is the classroom taking priority over the gym? Exactly why are these students required to miss 1/4th of spring classes?

Oh, that’s right. The NCAA signed a TV agreement between them and CBS for $10.8 billion dollars from 2011-2024 to broadcast the big dance.

Sounds like making the NCAA money is taking a bit more priority than classes. That is what the huge problem is. There seems to be a confusion of priorities. Usually, amateur sports go school first than sports, but it seems to be the other way around. So these students are NOT receiving as equal of a learning experience as a normal student—thus having an unleveled playing field when seeking a job. Paying athletes what they deserve balances that out. According to Business Insiders Tony Manfred, only 1.7 % of college players goes pro. Without an equal education, what happens to the other 98.3%? The money would help them seek additional supplements past college to find jobs.

But how can this change?

How can one ethically pay some but not others? What about paying different sports? Many people speculate what the correct solution is. Some, such as Kevin Owens from SB Nation claim that they should alter scholarships to allow more money and let players receive advertisements. Michael Wilbon of ESPN argues that it should be comprised as a free market. Lastly, some people such as Jonathan Mahler of Business Weekly argue it should be a free market with free agency-like bidding. The best plan happens to lie in the ideas of Jonathan Mahler.

This is his argument, colleges would bid for a player services. Similarly to professionals, the athletes would have individually negotiable contracts. They could include incentives, such as graduating, or they could add restrictions such as a non-transfer clause.

Further, nobody would need to establish guidelines for who can do what. The market will balance itself. He also adds that many would contradict this similar to the MLB free agency adoption. When that happened, MLB said “professional baseball would simply cease to exist.” Mahler notes “Four decades later, major league baseball generates about $8 billion in revenue a year.” He also notes that the NCAA’s counterargument consists of two things.  Many institutions do not actually gain profit from sports due to high facility and athletic personnel expenses.

But guess what? If that is the case it shouldn’t be a problem. The market would value the players at a low price tag, so the cost would be low, right?

The second notion they are concerned about with is that it may stack the teams with the most money. Another flaw. That would be Alabama. Most recruits would choose to go there over a school like Tennessee. Lastly, they ask how do you pay Harvard’s rowing team. The answer is you don’t. Like the free market, if you’re not bringing in money you’re not being paid. It’s that simple.

Without this plan, there continues to be an injustice in one of the biggest industry in America, making most people who support the athletics hypocrites if they believe in America’s economies ideals. According to USA Today’s Ty Duffy, Texas A&M made $37 million of media exposure directly correlated to Johnny Manziel’s Heisman Trophy. According to the American economy, Manziel would get some of that. How much did he actually get? None.

Without this plan, universities are getting rich while those doing the work are falling behind in education. The money is in the wrong hands. The world without this plan would continue in a country associated with equality. That is a major irony.

The players have no voice; so as American citizens, it is our duty to help them reach equality. College athletes should be paid because they generate billions of dollars in revenue. The current system is an injustice and inconsistent with American beliefs. Like our economy, a free market would change all of that. Now it’s time to take a stand against the institutions and the NCAA. Stop buying memorabilia. Do not watch the games. This will get their attention and make the change. Our nation was founded on the belief that all deserve justice.

It is time to give athletes the money they deserve. The power imbalance ends now.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at [email protected]

One thought on “NCAA : Why It’s Time To Pay Up And Give Student-Athletes What They Deserve

  1. The United States as much as you want to believe it’s a free market, it’s not.

    It’s actually a combination of different types of market systems, which is why there are government regulations and guidelines.

    Another thing is college athletes are paid, not in a traditional sense of a salary, instead there are funds created specifically by the NCAA for athletes and even if a player gets hurt or decides to no longer participate in their respective sport, still has access to that fund. Others get full scholarships that pay for their tuition, room and board, meals and tutors.

    Other will receive partial scholarships as well which gives athletes an opportunity to get a discount on tuition, room and board, meals and tutors.

    Another notion is that the athletes are required to miss time in class? No. Last time I checked playing a sport at the college level is voluntary. Secondly the athletes already know about the time missed and will either make the decision to play or not play. Also, there’s grade requirements for their athletes, so even if on the road it’s not like the educational component is getting ignored.

    Let’s not confuse that 40 hours is the standard work week for Americans, not the average number of hours worked. In actuality the average number of hours worked by an American during the week is actually nearing 49 hours per week.

    This also doesn’t mention that the NCAA would need to pay all athletes regardless if the sport itself is revenue generating or not and Title IX also includes women’s sports not really known as revenue generating to get paid as well.

    Which opens up different can of worms. So, in essence there will never likely be a traditional payment system for NCAA athletes.

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