By Brock Bennett
The question that rises quite often is: should college athletes be paid? I believe that college athletes of big programs that bring in an enormous amount of income should be paid. These kids are putting their bodies on the line in the risk of injury and never reaching their dreams of getting to the professional league. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) doesn’t have to pay them a ridiculous amount, I say just minimal wage, buy pay them for fair hours.
The reasons on why college athletes should be paid are not only do they try to balance school, they also have to go to practice, hit the weight room, watch film, and get ready for each game. College is hard enough without any kind of extracurricular activities, and athletes are required to do so much more than average students. College athletes are, again, offering up their bodies for free basically to bring fans to the stands and make a name for themselves. Colleges where sports bring in a huge amount of income require their athletes to dedicate so much time toward the sport a player plays that these players should at least get a little check. These players spend countless hours at practice, team bonding experiences, and games and they can’t really have a life outside of sports.
The argument can be made that college athletes get athletic scholarships, if the school is allowed to give those out, and get a free ride to college because room and board and tuition are all paid for. While this is true, average students can get free rides themselves by getting academic scholarships. Not trying to take anything away from anybody that has or had an academic scholarship, I have a few myself, but an athlete should be giving more incentive to play because it is very unlikely to injure yourself studying than it is playing a sport. If a college athlete injures themselves and they can’t make it to the next level that may be the end of this student. Not saying that they aren’t smart enough to continue, it’s just that most athletes that go to big programs for sports try to make it to the next level and school is not a priority at that time.
A famous South Carolina Gamecock running back, Marcus Lattimore, was a steam roller in college and was projected to be outstanding in the National Football League (NFL). Unfortunately, Lattimore sustained a knee injury against the Tennessee Volunteers his junior year. He tore his MCL, ACL, PCL, basically destroying his right knee. He was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 2014, but Lattimore never saw a down. He retired after one year in the league because of the injury he suffered in college.
Another famous college athlete was Todd Gurley, a running back for the University of Georgia. Gurley was having an outstanding 2014-2015 season until he violated the NCAA ruling of selling autographs. He made less than five grand and was suspended for three games. He did this because he actually needed the money, not because he could.
In order for college athletes to get paid one or two things are going to have to happen. The first thing is that if an athlete choses to play for a big program, they should not receive any kind of athletic scholarship. I feel that it would be okay to have an academic scholarship because anybody can get one, but not everyone can get an athletic scholarship. Once the athletic scholarship is taken away, then the NCAA can sit down and determine how much each athlete will make and how many hours they should get paid for. The second thing that needs to change is universities might want to consider setting up a trust fund for athletes who grew up in a rough life. Everyone is different and some people have more than others, but it would be great to see that universities care in not only making money, but for the athletes that go to their schools to play for them.