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Eng 100 - Paying Student Athletes

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ENG 100

Final Draft Argumentative Essay

College athletes are, by definition, amateurs. They’re called student-athletes, and every player and coach that’s interviewed says the same cliché: “they’re students first, then athletes.” The athletes have to maintain a minimum GPA requirement in order to be able to participate in their sports. Despite these facts, it’s becoming increasingly clear that college athletes in major sports (focusing mainly on football, basketball and track and field) are far more valuable on their school’s bottom line than they are on the Dean’s List.

Players are essentially working full time jobs and deserve to be paid more than just scholarships. Because even full-ride athletic scholarships don't cover the full cost of attending school, athletes are often short a few thousand bucks for ancillary expenses on top of tuition, room and board, books, and fees: Money for gas, shampoo, and maybe a few other personal items. Besides, many athletes are only on partial scholarship or are no scholarship walk-ons still paying full tuition. Universities need to find a way to fairly compensate their athletes for their hard work and talent. The athletes also deserve a share of revenue in which they bring into the university. There’s no doubt that a lot of money is both spent and earned in the collegiate sports business. The question is: Who deserves a cut? College athletes are also the foundation of businesses just as professional athletes are.

College athletes are some of the hardest working individuals around. After all, the athletes are the ones who put in hours of tough practices and training. The athletes are also the ones who have to balance a demanding school schedule with a demanding practice and competition schedule. Not only do athletes have to strain their mental well-being, but they are straining their physical well-being as well. So, if these players can’t receive benefits, then surely they should be able to work and make their own money just like any other student right? Not so fast. The NCAA is actually bold enough to restrict their athletes from having jobs or making money because they don’t want them “cashing in” on their performances in any way. Several athletes have been punished for receiving monetary rewards and profits. (Study: Top College Athletes worth up to $265k Each). Most recently, Heisman-winning Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, allegedly signed an autograph for money. It was an NCAA violation for student athletes to receive monetary rewards. (Woo)

This led to the controversial investigation with the NCAA on whether or not it may be time to start compensating college athletes. Being paid for anything is banned by NCAA regulations, but being paid for autographs (such an obviously professional activity) is the worst cardinal sin imaginable. After a brief investigation, Manziel was given a suspension of half a game. Maybe Manziel doesn’t really need the money. Maybe he’s just a spoiled brat with a big ego — assuming he did it, of course. For an athlete who is really in a rough financial situation, it might be more than tempting to sign an autograph for some cash, especially if it means he’ll be able to afford groceries for the month. No matter how lightly this punishment could be perceived, the fact remains that Manziel shouldn’t have been punished at all. Perhaps student-athletes can have their royalties stashed until they exhaust their NCAA eligibility or move on to the NFL. Perhaps there should be a cap on how much a player can make. Regardless, something has to give. Many of these student-athletes come from poor backgrounds and need to support their families. It’s a shame that the NCAA fails to see that even student athletes have to live too.

The NCAA has a strict rulebook for the recruitment and treatment of college athletes. In recent years, most of the scrutiny on college football has been negative. Numerous major colleges have gotten fined, lost scholarships, and, in the case of Ohio State University and USC, lost the opportunity to play in bowl games at the end of the season (Woo). These fines and punishments stem from violations to the rules, such as contacting players too early in the recruiting process, or offering them under-the-table cash payments to play at a specific school. A famous case was Ole Miss Lineman Michael Oher. His story (dramatized in the film The Blind Side) is an interesting look into the NCAA’s investigation process (Travis). Michael Oher and his adoptive family were eventually found innocent of any wrongdoing, but it was an extensive, exhausting process.

The NCAA outlines standards intended to create a fair playing field in Division I sports. Conclusions drawn from a recent study show the association’s model could also be exploiting athletes — particularly African-American males who come from lower socioeconomic classes and are playing revenue-producing sports (Travis). Richard Southall, director of the University’s College Sport Research Institute, presented this theory to a panel on the relationship between Division I athletics and academics led by Association of American Universities President Hunter Rawlings. According to NCAA guidelines, Division I football and men’s basketball players cannot profit from collegiate play and are instead supposed to be “from exploitation by professional and commercial enterprises.” Southall said these athletes might be exploited by not reaping the benefits of the money they help their schools earn — and, in some cases, by being recruited to schools that they may not be prepared for academically (NCAA College Athletics Statistics).

The average college basketball player, for example, practices between two to three hours a day, plays two or three games a week and participates in a number of strength and conditioning sessions on top of that. There is little time left over to pursue an education in earnest. And that’s assuming a college athlete has an interest in education to begin with. Southall said many student athletes in revenue producing sports — football and men’s basketball — are African-American, and many of those athletes come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. If athletes come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, he said, they might not have had as much academic support before college, and they might have learning needs that have not been addressed (NCAA College Athletics Statistics).



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