Why We Shouldn't Pay to College Athletes

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Why We Shouldn’t Pay to College Athletes

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While enrolled in college, the students realize that their number one priority for the few years they are there is their education. People who believe that college athletes should be paid do not find that statement to be true. There is a clear line dividing amateur athletes from professional ones and there is a reason for this: it is simply unrealistic and unfair to pay amateur college athletes. Many athletes that play throughout college are already receiving full rides, if not major scholarships, to attend the school that chooses them for their teams. How would it be fair to pay for their education and a salary on top of that? It would be like the athletes are getting paid double the amount of money and another student has the ability to and that would not be fair. Most college athletes realize this and play throughout their schooling because they simply enjoy the game and appreciate the scholarships they most likely have already been provided with. Paying all college athletes the amount that people believe they deserve is far too expensive and unrealistic. College athletes should not be paid to play because sports should not be their primary focus over education while enrolled in college.

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Why shouldn’t college athletes be paid? If college athletes were to be paid to play sports, there would be no difference between them and professional athletes. It is important that people realize that college athletes are not employees like professionals are; they are students first. The reason that the universities and colleges give these athletes scholarships is so that they are able to pursue their education and represent the school in a positive manner through the success of their sports teams. Leigh Hadaway explains in her article: “Students are not professional athletes that should receive paid salaries, they are students, that through the participation in sport, receive access to scholarships and college education. We shouldn’t view college athletes as employees, but rather as students first, and athletes second”. Playing college sports should be viewed more as the privilege that it is. The point of going to college is to earn an education, not rely on the slim chance of becoming a professional athlete. The few people who are able to proceed to a professional league did not get there by pushing off schoolwork and only focusing on sports, especially considering most scholarships require a minimum grade point average to keep them.

College Athletes Should Not Be Paid

A majority of college athletes understand that playing sports is not the primary reason they are attending college. These individuals continue playing simply because of their love for the game. As a former college athlete, Warren Hartenstine states: “I think contemporary college football players are still motivated by winning the game and earning opportunities to play at the next level”. Of course, every college player would appreciate the opportunity to play on a professional level, but many players think realistically and do not expect that to happen to them. Instead, many students take advantage of the scholarships provided to them and also keep the focus on their area of study so that they can still have a feasible career one day. It is very obvious to student-athletes how rare it is to be chosen to play on any professional sports team. For example, “Of the 1,210 students who played Division, I men’s basketball in 2013 only 3.9% were drafted into the National Basketball Association”. Val Ackerman and Larry Scott explain that the college athletes who have been playing a particular sport for a majority of their life are aware that their years of playing in college are most likely their last and many people have no problem with that. People grow older and find a career with their college degree to earn income and commonly forget about their old dreams of playing a professional sport.

The unfair aspect of the idea of paying college athletes is the fact that they are already provided with full-ride scholarships, if not major scholarships. This would basically mean that college athletes would be getting their education paid for as well as receiving a salary on top of that. That is much more money than any young adult needs and is unfair to other students that are not athletes; they would not have the opportunity to get paid for doing work involved with their schooling. Ackerman and Scott describe this issue by stating: “They go to college on full scholarships, and when they graduate, most graduate debt-free. They receive the cost of attendance benefits, meaning their day-to-day needs, such as food, housing, clothing, gas, and trips home, are covered. They also get high-quality medical care, academic support, and quality travel experiences”. College athletes are already receiving so many benefits, how could it possibly be fair to provide all of them with extensive salaries as well? That’s the main point that college athletes should not be paid. Some sports players believe these athletes deserve money because the school earns revenue through the sporting events that take place, but the school, through their scholarships, is already giving the money they deserve to them. There is no justification for college athletes receiving more money than they are already given.

Individuals that feel college athletes should be paid are typically those who enjoy sports themselves, so they have a different point of view than someone who does not necessarily care for them. Sports players see how difficult the sports are to actually play. Paul Marx explains, “There is new attention to concussions, often resulting in lifelong disabilities for which the athletes are meagerly compensated. There is a growing awareness that college football is not an amateur sport (474). Marx believes that since college sports can be so dangerous, athletes should be paid to compensate for their injuries. Most players that are talented enough to play on a college team have been playing a majority of their lives and are quite aware of the dangers that come along with playing. Nobody is forcing the athletes to join a team; they always have the option to deny playing. If people do not wish to be injured ever, then they should not play because, frankly, injuries are expected to occur in any sport and it is simply ridiculous to expect an organization to pay for injuries that were acquired in a sport that was optional. Marx continues to later state: “There’s not much time, or interest in, school work. But not everyone is cut out to be a student; most football players are not”. This is the largest issue with this side of the argument regarding paying athletes. The colleges provide scholarships to these students because they feel that they are in fact “cut out” to be a student and expect them to put the time, interest, and effort into doing so. Many scholarships received by sports players have minimum grade point average requirements that would be impossible to maintain unless these students were able to do their schoolwork. College athletes need to be aware that they are capable of keeping up with sports and school simultaneously. On the other hand, if college athletes were to get paid salaries rather than scholarships, there would be an issue with this as well. John Thelin explains in his article how salaries would have to be taxed, whereas scholarships are not. In his example, the college athlete would be making one hundred thousand dollars a year while attending a school that costs about sixty-five thousand dollars per year to attend:

But since it’s a salary, not a scholarship, it is subject to federal and state income taxes. Tuition and college expenses would not be deductible because the income level surpasses the IRS eligibility limit. So, a student-athlete paid a salary would owe $23,800 in federal income tax and $6,700 in state taxes, a total of $30,500. In cities that levy an employee payroll tax, the salaried student’s taxes go up about $2,400 per year. Income taxes then are $32,900. And, as an employee, the player would have to pay at least $2,000 in other taxes, such as Social Security, for a total of $34,900. This leaves the college player with $65,100. Since college bills come to $65,000, the player has $100 left.

In reality, if the college athletes were left to pay for their schooling without scholarships, they would only be making about one hundred dollars of income to keep for themselves. Earning a scholarship and attending college for free seems to be a much better situation. While some individuals feel as though college athletes deserve a salary pay, it is actually quite unfair and useless.

A majority of college athletes recognize that their primary focus while attending school is to get an education to earn a degree in the end. However, some people feel as though the athletes should put a lot more attention into their sports and therefore deserve further payment while enrolled in school. If this situation took place, there would be no distinction between amateur and professional sports. Many college athletes recognize this concept and simply play through college for the fun of it and appreciate the scholarships they are provided. Paying athletes a salary on top of their scholarships would be unfair to the other students that are not taking part in sports and even if they did get paid, most of that income would be going towards paying school bills anyway. College athletes should not be paid to play because their primary focus should be on their education while enrolled in college, rather than earning money by playing a sport that will probably end once they graduate.

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