“There are nights that I go to bed hungry and I’m starving”. Shabazz Napier, a basketball player for the University of Connecticut, said this to a group of reporters this year. It is ridiculous that an athlete of that caliber goes to bed hungry. Up until April of this year the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) limited Division one athletes meals. This is a clear example of a group of individuals being denied their rights. As a whole this demographic is so talented yet so exploited. Division one collegiate athletes are the best athletes in the country behind professionals, and they deserve to have the right to be compensated for their abilities. It needs to be understood that I am not arguing that they deserve to earn a salary, simply that they get a piece of the money that they bring into the school.
The problem is as previously stated, college athletes should be able to receive money yet are prohibited from doing so. The problem originates from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which has deemed college athletes amateurs, and outlawed any sort of payment outside of an athlete’s scholarship. Michael Rosenberg, a writer for Sports Illustrated said in the “Schooled: The Price Of College Sports” amateurism is me and my friends playing basketball with nobody paying to watch us, not college athletes playing in front of thousands of people who paid to watch them. Division one collegiate athletes do not play at an amateur level; to call them amateurs is not only wrong, it is insulting. Amateurs do not have to preform a balancing act between academics and athletics.
These Individuals are working two fulltime jobs as student-athletes except they are making zero dollars an hour. When athletes are not in class, studying or with a tutor they are on the field, in the gym, or watching film. Wilfred Sheed, a sports writer, criticizes the notion of paying college athletes in “Why Sports Matter” by saying “the school that pays its students to play games for it loses some of its integrity as a school” (497). However Sheed fails to see the point that a school denying their students its rights has no integrity to begin with, and by refusing to give the athletes money that they have brought into the school is not only stripping away their rights but taking advantage of them.
Other critics could say that dollars generated by many college teams don’t add up to make a profit, and it is only the top football schools that do. They would be right, most of the 12 billion dollars a year that the NCAA brings in is through select schools. However, these institutions are dominant, and so are their athletes. The level of play these people compete at is paramount which is why the schools they play for are so successful on the field and financially. The fact that these individuals play at the best schools in the country that generate millions of dollars in revenue and don’t receive a penny of it is preposterous. These student-athletes are not employees, because employees profit from their abilities, technically they are indentured servants.
In the 1700’s indentured servants would sign a contract to work without pay for a free pass into the United States. Arian Foster, former football player for the University of Tennessee, said Collegiate Athletes are today’s indentured servants. Each one must sign a contract saying he or she will preform for the institution without receiving compensation in any form directly related to their sport or abilities. During their time in college these athletes will receive food, housing, and training with no option to earn money from their talents. Such exploitation is clearly a problem.
The solution to the problem is simple; give the college athletes the rights they deserve. Since they are students before athletes they should not be earning a salary. They should not, however, be denied compensation from jersey sales, commercial photo-shoots, or likenesses in videogames; the athletes alone are the source of these earnings. Its not a coincidence that Texas A&M has football jerseys in its bookstore with the number two on them. Top programs produces the top players, they are the ones that deserve to be paid because they have earned it. Not every athlete will be paid the same or even paid at all, but all athletes deserve the right to be. Most college athletes do not have their picture on magazines covers or jersey’s sold in stores. It would be unfair for everyone to receive payment if only a select few really deserve it.
In conclusion, division one collegiate athletes are being stripped of their rights by being prohibited from receiving compensation outside of their scholarships. I do not think they should receive a salary, just commission on the earnings that they are the direct source of. I also believe only the best athletes should be paid, the ones that have their jersey’s sold and are replicated exactly in videogames, because they are the ones that have earned it. In five, ten, or fifteen years when college athletes are finally being given what they have earned, the majority of people will look back and think how stupid it was that such gifted people were denied from a basic right. The minority will be the ones who have thought that all along.
Graff, Gerald, and Cathy Birkenstein. They Say / I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. New York: W.W. Norton, 2010. Print
Schooled: The Price Of College Sports. Dir. Ross Finkel. Perf. Arian Foster, Michael Rosenberg. 2013.
Jessop, Alicia. “The NCAA Approves Unlimited Meals For Division I Athletes After Shabazz Napier Complains Of Going Hungry: The Lesson For Other College Athletes.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 15 Apr. 2014. Web. 04 May 2014.