By Charlie Caron
The National Collegiate Athletic Association is a booming business with ever-rising popularity, but where does its money go? The answer is wealthy businessmen who do not deserve profits that they have not won. Some of the proceeds from the sale of merchandise and tickets should be paid to the athletes themselves.
Players today are considered amateurs and therefore do not merit any money for their efforts; however, this archaic definition was created when the NCAA was not making millions of dollars from jersey sales and exponentially increasing ticket prices. Many of these players are now budding stars who treat their college years as the minor leagues that can prepare them for the NFL and the NBA. Today’s basketball and football players are far more physically able than those of the past; due to the evolution of the sport, shouldn’t they be paid accordingly?
Additionally, for players who can leave for professional leagues after just one or two years, there is no incentive to stay in college. The prospect of getting paid millions often sounds much better than working a part-time job and eating Ramen just to pay the rent. This mentality leads to inexperienced freshmen and sophomores leading teams and reducing the quality of play. As evidenced by the exodus of players from the Kentucky basketball program, asking new recruits to lead a team to success very rarely, if ever, works.
Although an ugly fact, it is true that the majority of college basketball and football players don’t come to universities to receive an education. College merely serves as the necessary middle ground between high school and professional leagues. It is very rare to see a star basketball player stay for all four years of college when the prospect of fame and fortune beckons. The only reason that basketball players come there is because of the rule that a player must be at least 19 years old before entering the NBA draft. Paying these players would keep stars in college and make games more entertaining and thus revenue-raising.
Paying athletes could also add another interesting flair to recruiting season. If the NCAA were to institute a salary-cap, two problems would be solved. It would prevent that colleges from spending all of their funds on football and basketball players, ensuring that gymnasts and wrestling teams are also being funded. Another benefit is that all of the top members of a recruiting class would no longer all go to the same college. Last year, Kentucky mens basketball stormed through the NCAA tournament, and no team had a chance to beat it. With a salary cap, that situation would not happen, and the parity of the Big Dance would be amplified even more.
Often college players come from difficult backgrounds and have fought hard to make it to the top. Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith played football at the University of Maryland for three years, the required minimum. He was raised in a poor environment, with six other brothers and sisters, and helped his mother raise the children. If he had been paid to play at Maryland, he could have supported the rest of his family and prolonged his career at the university.
Players who stay in college for a longer time are also more prepared when they get to the professional level. If they play for all four years, they are more physically prepared to play against tougher opposition. In addition, they are more mentally prepared, as they are stars on nationally televised games, can become leaders on their team and are older and therefore wiser. Encouraging this would result in better play for both the NCAA and the pros.
Players in the NCAA deserve to be paid because they are earning the money, and ultimately it would come back to benefit universities. Paying athletes means that they would stay in university for longer, resulting in more exciting collegiate sports and professional leagues.
Photo Courtesy of: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/01/magazine/lets-start-paying-college-athletes.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0