Collegiate Athletes Have Enough

There seems to be an argument floating around in which people across the U.S. think that college athletes—who are most definitely exploited—deserve some sort of monetary compensation.

I fail to see the argument here. I thought that scholarships, grants, free living expenses and the right to an education were forms of payment. Maybe I am wrong, but that sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me.

I realize this argument is a lot more complex than this. These students do not have time for jobs. They put in so much work on their respective fields, and the colleges make millions, even billions, off their work ethic. Despite all of this, however, there is one underlying factor that is being forgotten: education.

College is not about sports. It never has been, and it never should be. The fact that there is some sort of argument here about whether or not an athlete deserves money is taking the whole idea of college in the wrong direction. Are we completely forgetting why we are all here? The number of people in the world who have access to the kind of education we do is extremely low. Not many people get the opportunities we do as college students, and yet for some reason we want to take away funding from the education program and hand it to athletes.

It is already bad enough that coaches have these huge salaries—former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly was paid $3.5 million to coach the Ducks last year—while professors are arguably the most underpaid people in the world. Individuals who have control over the next generation—who help mold the minds of the next group of individuals that will have a say in this world—are tremendously underpaid to make way for some silly guy who has “big balls” and a visor on his head. Where’s the sense in that?
Recently this situation has gained a lot more attention due to college athletes writing “APU” on their jerseys. APU stands for “All Players United” and is supposed to be a protest against how the NCAA treats their athletes. Personally, I think this is awesome. If the players feel they are being treated unfairly, then they should be speaking out.

However, one of the reasons certain players are writing APU on their jerseys is because they feel they should be compensated. There are a lot of things wrong with the NCAA, and there’s definitely some truth to the claim that they do not do everything possible to protect their players, which should be their first priority. However, I do not understand how players can be asking for more money when we are still in a predicament where colleges and universities are constantly undergoing budget cuts. Anyone who was a part of Portland State’s summer program this year saw a lot of these cuts on their very own campus when a large portion of the summer classes were cancelled. It’s happening; we can’t ignore it.

APU is great, and it does stand up for the exploitation from the NCAA and television networks; however, that is not the only corruption that exists in collegiate sports. There is constantly news going on about which college athlete got a car or a house for playing for a specific team. The money that these programs have available to them is already going in the wrong direction. How could we trust them with more?

Put the situation into perspective. Let’s say we do pay college athletes. We can’t just pay football players; that would be unfair. Although football is the highest form of revenue for universities, if you pay one sport, you have to pay them all. Even golf and tennis, sports have much less revenue, would have to support their athletes financially.

So college athletes have money. Think of what would happen. Why would athletes have any reason to do anything else but their respective sport? Financial compensation enforces the ideology of not having a back-up plan. Regardless of how successful one is as an athlete, in a world that is filled with injuries, is this the right mindset to have?

You know who should be paid? Not people who can run the fastest or jump the highest, but the students in the engineering program who are, staying up all night to study for a test. The students who are taking 20 credits and trying to make a difference in this world thought their field of choice. Why can’t they be paid? They don’t have enough time to work. Or maybe they do—maybe they work on top of all of this so they can pay for their education.

Students aside, however, the most deserving and practical causes are the underpaid professors. Espacially all the adjunct professors, whom Univeristy of Arizona professor and cnn columnist Gary Rhoades recentl dabbed “the new working poor”. No one should ever talk about giving money to someone at a university other than professors until the molders of the next generation are paid what they deserve. It’s a no-brainer.

I do understand the argument from the side of college athletes and all who agree with them. The U.S. is absolutely obsessed with college football, as well as basketball come March. Television networks and the colleges themselves make amounts of money I can’t even imagine off of these students. But even with all the exploitation that exists in the NCAA, I fail to understand how compensation is the answer.

Look, college athletes: Be happy with what you’ve got. Life is pretty damn good for you guys! Especially those with full ride scholarships. I wish I could have any kind of scholarship myself.
Education is number one. No one should ever think that sports are even close to what we learn in the classroom. And even when we are in the classroom don’t the people teaching us deserve more? The money college athletes are demanding could and should be going to much nobler causes.