Should College Athletes get Paid?

March 7, 2017

Sports are enjoyed by all different types of people all around the world. Some people are not fans of sports and that is totally up to them. In my case, I could not live without sports. My life has always been surrounded with sports, whether that be playing or watching. I played soccer, basketball, and baseball my whole life and have made so many great memories while playing. Some people are lucky enough to continue their respected sports careers past high school and into college. Very few have the opportunity to play Division 1 sports, the highest level of competition. The atmosphere at a collegiate level sports game is incredible, and hard to imagine.  If one is talented enough to make it to the Division 1 level, then a lot is in store for the individual. The biggest question that surrounds Division 1 sports now a day is if the players deserve to be paid for their respected sport. For all the hard work student athletes put in, they deserve to be compensated through monetary benefits.

The question is mainly proposed around football and basketball, and wrestling seeing how they are the most popular sports in Division 1. Some will say College football is just as big as the National Football League (NFL) and some will say College basketball is just as big as the National Basketball Association (NBA). Just like the NFL, College football owns a day of the week during the fall, which is Saturday. A big argument is if just as many people are watching College players on Saturday as NFL players on Sunday, then why aren’t the players in College being paid the millions that the professional players are. College basketball also holds one of the most popular basketball tournaments in March, known as March Madness. In 2016, the National Collegiate Athletic Association received 1 billion dollars from March Madness” (Parker, 2017, p.1). The argument of whether or not players should be paid or not be paid will be discussed throughout the research paper.

Salim Furth, a senior policy analyst in macroeconomics at the heritage foundation stated, “Rather than fight through years of lawsuits, the NCAA should take leadership and change its rules to allow schools to pay players on an open market” (Parker, 2017, p.1). The argument throughout the article is how Division 1 college football players are full-time professional athletes. Furth also states that the reason they deserve to be paid is because of the skill level in football. A big theory of Furth’s is that the NCAA labels the players as students to draw away from the fact that they get nothing in return. The players deserve to be paid if they are constantly bringing in funds for their respected school. The players make a ridiculous amount of money for their school, yet, none of the money goes towards them. An interesting piece that Furth included in his article makes a lot of people put things into perspective. Furth states, “If a star receiver decided to focus on academics and scale back football practice, he would be dropped from the team and lose his scholarship” (Cooper, 2011, p.1). Big time Division 1 football players have a very light academic schedule, which helps prove the point why they should be paid. They are not living the same life as someone who is attending the school strictly for academics. A division 1 football player is giving something very special to the school, and that is hard work, dedication, and wealth. So much money is made of so many kids who play division 1 football, and it very unfair to give them nothing in return, not accounting for their scholarship. The article discusses how Northwestern University quarterback Kain Colter is taking a stand on the situation, and is forming a union with his teammates. Kain Colter forming a union with his teammates shows how much he cares, how much time he puts in, and how invested in the sport he is. Not many people take the time to go out of their way and try to make changes, but when people do, everyone appreciates it.

A common argument that is argued is whether or not division 1 football and basketball players are considered employees or not. Robert McCormick, a Michigan State law professor states, “There are more demands put on these young men than any employee of the university” (Cooper, 2011, p.1). McCormick believes that the players get the most demand put on them out of every employee at the respected college. A division 1 athlete does not have a choice of what major he would like to pursue in, if it conflicts with their practice schedule, then that major is not for them. If a student athlete cannot even pick their major, what is the point of them even studying? Picking your major at college is a huge step. It takes some people no time to decide, and others several years to come to a conclusion of what they want their future to hold. An example of a collegiate athlete who can classify under an employee is Braxton Miller. Groves states, “In that nationally televised game, Miller evaded an opposing group of defenders with an eye-popping 360-degree spin. That spin move was repeatedly replayed on national networks, and was even the subject of an ESPN/YouTube video entitled “Sports Science: Braxton Miller’s Spin Move” (Groves, 2016, p.2). Braxton Miller classifies as an employee because of how much attention was drawn to him after his signature move, the spin move. The social media world blew up after he launched a fantastic spin move on national television. If a player is getting so much attention for his skills on the field, why is he not being rewarded for his work. An interesting idea discussed throughout Groves article, was the idea of a video game that incorporated the collegiate player’s actual names and showed things such as their ‘go to’ move. The idea was to make the game as believable and as similar to the players as it possibly can. Groves states, “Assume as well that players Miller and Elliott are on scholarship to play football at OSU, and signed agreements with OSU to abide by rules established by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) and incorporated by reference into their contractual relationship with OSU” Groves, R. (2016). If an entrepreneur were to create a game like stated, it would create an unbelievable amount of profits. So many people in the United States, and world, watch college football, and cherish it. If a video game were to come out like there is for NFL players, so much would change. The amount of profit that would arise from the video game would be overwhelming. A video game will not be created until the players’ names are able to be used publically.

A great example of how someone was paid for their athletic ability and talent is a young man who attends the Ohio State University to wrestle for the Division 1 program. The wrestler goes by the name Kyle Snyder, and is very good at what he does. Something unique about Snyder that separates him from the other wrestlers in the program is that he is an Olympian wrestler. In the article “College athletes can’t be paid for their performances – unless they’re Olympians,” Adam Kilgore states, “On the last day of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, Kyle Snyder made both history and $250,000. He became the youngest American to win an Olympic wrestling gold medal, and USA Wrestling’s Living The Dream Medal Fund awards any wrestling gold medalist a quarter of a million dollars” (Kilgore, 2016, p.1). So Snyder was paid $250,000 for winning a gold medal at the Rio Olympics, but if he were to win the championship at Ohio State, he would receive a trophy. The Olympics paying a very talented college athlete proves that young college athletes deserve to be paid for their work on the field. Mike Novagratz, a former hedge fund manager is very confused with how college athletics handles their players and business. Novagratz does not understand how someone competing for their country can receive prize money, but someone competing for their school cannot. An interesting piece is expressed in the article that draws a lot of eyes, “Athletes competing for their country are free to collect prize money from specific donors. Athletes responsible for bringing massive revenue to their schools are barred from receiving any money beyond their scholarship and a small stipend” Kilgore, A. (2016). College athletes do nothing but bring in massive amount of money for their respected school, and they are treated with a full scholarship. The argument is not that the scholarship isn’t special, but that they should be given more for all they do. A young man who doesn’t play sports can receive the same full ride scholarship that an athlete is given, but for academics which is great but does not make sense. In an old article published on April 20th, 2015 called “Why Student Athletes Continue To Fail,” a very interesting topic is brought up. Cardale Jones, the Ohio State quarterback at the time, stated that he came to Ohio State “to play football, not to play school, and that classes were pointless” (Oppenheimer, 2015, p.1). Mr. Jones brings up a good point because that is how most college athletes feel. They are brought to the school for one main reason, perform at the best of their ability on the field. Academics are not their top priority, even if the school tries to advertise it as that. Division 1 colleges persuade players to come too their school by making their athletics sound good and do not focus on their academics, obviously. It brings up the argument why they should be paid, if they are being brought in mainly for athletics. A player committed to Penn State University for football released some words to me on how the recruitment process is run and what is usually discussed. The player was asked if the school persuaded him more with academics or athletics. The response was, “They definitely talked more about football and past players who went through the system but they talked a decent amount about the academics” (Fry, 2017). The quote proves how the players are brought in more for the athletics. So if that is the case, why are they being treated the same way as students who attend strictly for academics.

The best way to find out valid information about anything is too talk to the individuals involved in whatever it is. In this case, the topic is college athletics, so the most reliable information would come from the players/coaches involved in division 1 sports. Illinois State University’s head athletic director stated, “I think there are a few student athletes in any major athletic program, the starting five of the basketball team, the quarterback of the football team, who might be able to make a straight faced argument that they are creating more value than their receiving in terms of the scholarship” (Local Broadcast Video Content, 2016. Should college athletes get paid.) Millions of dollars are created from the athletes going out and performing, and they are granted with a scholarship, it does not seem fair. It is very interesting to see an athletic director show how he feels about the topic because he of all people is involved, and in the middle of the argument of whether or not the athletes are treated correctly.

Although it will be hard for something to happen rapidly, progress is being made in getting the athletes what they deserve. It is hard to say they do not deserve money when in some cases, they are producing in front of the same audience as professional sports. Something needs to change quickly, and the athletes need to receive what they deserve. I can speak for both, college and professional sports. The atmosphere of both is very similar, and the crowd produces the same type of energy. It is awesome to see the crowd of both levels show how much they care for their respected college and/or professional team. One event I would like to attend in my lifetime is March Madness. If you’re looking for the best sports atmosphere, and diehard fans, then March Madness is for you. The best part about the March Madness tournament is the mentality that all the players have. The players know that anything is possible in terms of how far they can make it, but they also know that one mistake can send them home. The atmosphere and fans of sports will forever stay electric, and still continue to affect the game.



Cooper, K. J. (2011). Should College Athletes Be Paid to Play?. Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, 28(10), 12-13.

Friermouth, P. (2017). Personal Interview.

Furth, S. (2017). Division I Football Players Should Be Paid on the Open Market. Gale, Cengage Learning.

Groves, R. M. (2015). A Solution for the Pay for Play Dilemma of College Athletes: A Novel Compensation Structure Tethered to Amateurism and Education null [article]. Texas Review Of Entertainment & Sports Law, (2), 101.

Oppenheimer, D. (2015). Why Student Athletes Continue to Fail. Time.Com [serial online]. April 23, 2015;;N.PAG. Available from: Business Source Alumni Edition, Ipswich, MA.

Parker, T. (2017). How Much Does the NCAA Make off March Madness?

Kilgore, A. (2016). College athletes can’t be paid for their performances – unless they’re Olympians. The Washington Post.

Video: should college athletes get paid?. (2016). (Item Citation: Local Broadcast Video Content. July 26, 2016). Local Broadcast Video Content.