Should College Athletes Be Paid?

When I was in college my parents were nice enough to help me out with paying rent, buying groceries, school supplies and picking up those college bar tabs. (Not that bar tabs in college towns are ever more than $20 bucks. Seriously, $1 Grey Goose and .50 cent pitchers….where have you gone sweet nectar? After 4 years in NYC I’m excited if one drink is less than $20.00.)

I ended up taking a part time job as a hostess at a local sports bar, partly because all my friends worked there, and partly because I needed any excuse to procrastinate on homework. College students all over the country balance part time jobs, extra curricular activities, homework and a social life while they’re in school.  It’ not easy, but the real world is a even less forgiving. I miss the days where having to study for a final with a hangover was my biggest problem.

Student athletes don’t have time for part time jobs.  They have morning and afternoon practices, weight training, team bonding and games to worry about.  Games that make money, a lot of money.

I went to an art school where student athletes were looked at with confused stares. My Freshman year of college I had to take a Color Theory course.  Our final consisted of creating perfect squares using oil paints. It was impossible.

The first day of class we had to go around in a circle and do that really awkward introduction where everyone says their name and one interesting thing about themselves. “I’m Deniz! I’m from DC! I like candy!”  We’re all going around we get to Bo”, that wasn’t his actual name, but it should have been,  “Bo” drops a bomb on everyone. “Hey, I’m Bo.  I came to SCAD to play baseball.” Um…..really guy?  You came to The Savannah College of ART AND DESIGN to play baseball?  Needless to say “Bo” seriously sucked at color theory.

Regardless of my lack of any actual experience in the subject, I understand that college athletes, like most college students, struggle with money. Resisting the temptation of a big time agent offering you cars, houses, vacations and Rolex watches is nearly impossible.  I’m all for giving college athletes who don’t have time for a part time job a small stipend to help them afford groceries, school supplies, etc. If you play football at a school such as Ohio State or the University of Florida, then I’m pretty sure the NCAA is banking enough money off selling your jersey and tickets to games that they can afford to pay your rent.  Student athletes don’t need to worry about the added pressure of keeping a roof over their heads.

The reality is that the majority of student athletes will never be paid to play sports. (Hey “Bo”, I’m talking to you.) I don’t think the NCAA should start handing out blank checks to athletes. Throwing money at them now isn’t going to do much to prepare them for the future when their going to have to sit in a cubicle working 40 hours a week at a job they hate.

It’s a sticky situation when you start offering some players more money than others. You can’t have the basketball team’s rent free housing  at the Trump Hotel while the soccer players are stuck at Motel 8.  The argument over whether or not college athletes deserve to be paid will go on for years.  The NCAA needs to come up with a system that works for every sport, every school and every athlete across the country.  Until then, how can anyone really blame a kid for taking a bite out of the carrot dangling in front of them?

If your family was struggling and you could barely afford to keep up with the lifestyle of half of your friends, would you reject the offerings of powerful agent promising you the future you’d only ever dreamed of?  If you answer yes to that question then I commend you on your morality, but I don’t believe you.

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