So I read an article in The Economist titled “Fair or foul?” that was about the “unpaid student athletes at the heart of a multi-billion-dollar industry.” The author describes the billions of dollars that the members of NCAA spend and make on sports and how little of that money is given to the performers who do the work that bring the revenue. Here’s what I think.
They make a great point, shouldn’t the high class athletes get some sort of payment for their performance in front of the thousands of fans that come to see them compete every week? Let’s be honest, who wants to go to a mediocre college football games where the team struggles to score field goals; teams you’re pretty sure most 5A high school teams can beat. The author of the article talked about the most recent Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Manziel, and how he generated an estimated $37 million dollars worth of media exposure for Texas A&M University in a single year. How much of that money went to him? Let’s not forget his full-ride scholarship: $10 thousand a semester for eight semesters, $80 thousand, give-or-take. This means that Texas A&M University is only allowed to give him 0.216% of the amount of money he brought in. Come on, what a sweet deal this is for the school: an $80 thousand investment that returns around 46,000%.
Now, I know it’s not fair to just look at one outlier as a basis for the rest of the group. But the point is how little schools give their athletes and how much the schools benefits financially. This is not the universities’ fault, but simply the NCAA’s, for they have very strict rules and incredibly harsh punishments for violation of these rules. Just look at SMU, anyone who has watched ESPN’s 30-for-30 titled “Pony Excess” could see just how steep the punishment was for paying players. They sentenced the school the cleverly named “Death Penalty” for this in the 1987 and 1988 seasons. I don’t know about you, but how many times did you hear SMU’s name come up in the BCS championship discussions this last season? It’s been a quarter century since the NCAA executed SMU, and they are still feeling the effects. Why? For paying players.
Now why doesn’t the NCAA want schools to pay players? Because then athletes decide which school to play for based on how big the check is. Private schools, such as Duke, Baylor, TCU, SMU, Notre Dame, USC, Stanford, and BYU, with a little more change in their own and in their alumni’s pockets, might have a slight competitive edge. Then it boils down to, how much is an athlete’s time worth? Does an innocent 18-year-old choose to play second or third string as a freshman making $80,000 a year or play first string making $60,000 a year for a smaller school? How much of this decision will be the athletes, and how much of it will be his or her parents strongly encouraging the athlete to pick a specific school? The athlete will wear the jersey of the team who puts the most green in their back pocket. This contaminates the purity of the sport. I want to see athletes competing for glory, pride, and legacy, not Hamiltons, Jacksons, and Benjamins. We get enough of the celebrity multi-million dollar contracts in the NFL, leave that in the NFL. In my opinion, there is no greater and purer competition than on beautiful fall Saturdays. Let them earn their dough when and if they reach the gates of the National Football League.
Thanks for reading.