The difference between collegiate and professional athletes

The National Collegiate Athletic Association cleared $1 billion in revenue in 2017, and the student-athletes who risk their bodies for injury every day never see a penny of it, causing one of the biggest controversies in college athletics today — should college athletes be paid?

Major universities across the nation generate hundreds of millions of dollars from their athletics each year through ticket sales, fundraisers and donations, yet their athletes never see a penny of the revenue. There have been uproars from collegiate players arguing their positions on why they should see a portion of the profits, because they themselves are generating the earnings for the universities. Still to this day, no collegiate athlete has had any type of payment for their efforts in the sports realm.

College athletes themselves put together a concrete case, arguing that collegiate athletics is equivalent to a full-time job, and that they should be compensated for their time and efforts. As a student-athlete, you do miss many classes due to away trips, games or practices, and your time is stretched thin trying to balance athletics and academics, so athletes around the nation are asking for a salary to help make up for the burdens placed upon them during season and in the off-season.

As a college athlete, you represent your university not only as a source of revenue if successful, but as a marketing skill to draw students into the school. Athletes argue that if they are being used to generate cash flow, that they should be compensated as well.

Putting the athlete’s arguments aside, there still needs be a separation between college and professional athletics, and right now the only difference is a salary. Yes, these athletes generate huge amounts of revenue for their universities, but they aren’t entitled to that money directly.

When recruited out of high school, top athletes have the opportunity to earn athletic scholarships which will assist these young adults financially by partially or completely covering the cost of attendance to the college or university.  if not cover the cost of attendance completely. In this sense, college athletes are being paid to attend the school of their choice, and any amount of money that goes beyond that threshold would be in nullify your athletic eligibility according to NCAA standards.

According to the NCAA sports contract concerning amateurism, an athlete is considered a professional if they are paid in any form or accept the promise of pay for using your athletic abilities in any type of sports contest. Therefore, if athletes are compensated for their performance in the sports realm they should immediately lose their eligibility to compete at the collegiate level because they are considered a professional. College athletes are ametuer and professional athletes are professionals, and there needs to be a black and white rule to keep them separated.

Along with separating the professional and collegiate leagues, paying student-athletes would tremendously lower the importance of goal setting and hard work. Growing up, children often say that they want to play professional sports when they get older. Most times that dream does not come true. If being a professional athlete was an easy goal to reach, everyone would do it. Boys and girls attend universities with the goal in mind that they will make it to the big leagues, the league where you get paid to play the sport you love to play.

Through high level and consistent performances at the collegiate level, one could get lucky and live out their dream in the professional ranks. Once you make it, then compensation is the reward. Until then, attend class, get good grades, and accept the fact that amateur athletes do not get paid.

College is where young adults prepare themselves for their future careers. Students pick a major that best suits the career path they want to be on, and after graduation they have gone through the necessary steps to enhance their knowledge to be successful in the professional world. These students are not paid to attend class. Compensating student-athletes should be viewed the same exact way. College is a journey, and the professional ranks, whether in athletics or corporate America, is the destination.

Allowing student-athletes to be paid prioritizes them above all other students on campus. Other major groups on campus will start to question their worth, and begin to demand compensation for the revenue they help bring into the school as well.

Greek life, for example, is an attraction that brings thousands of young adults to campuses around the nation. One could argue that the largest fraternities or sororities should get compensated for drawing students to a particular school. When one group is compensated there leaves too much room for other groups to demand the same payment, therein lies a serious problem for universities to wrestle with.

Lastly, on the most basic level, the NCAA could not possibly afford to compensate athletes. The millions of dollars of revenue are dispersed to hundreds of colleges country-wide, which then has to be circulated to each team within the colleges or universities. That money is used to maintain or build facilities, pay coaches, distribute scholarships to prospective athletes and fund the growth of the athletic programs.

Forbes Magazine published an article on one of the largest college football programs in the United States, Ohio State, saying that the university needs $22 million to balance their budget alone. Now imagine a smaller university with even smaller endowments and royalty fees. There is not enough money to go around.

Paying student-athletes would lower the quality of collegiate programs nationally by draining the funds to other portions of the athletic departments. In order to maintain high quality athletic departments, there has to be access to money, and paying athletes would make that impossible.

In all reality, paying college athletes would ruin the atmosphere that college sports create. Every year people all around the country anxiously fill out NCAA Tournament brackets for college basketball, with the hopes that their favorite team will make it to the national championship. Students look forward to college football game days where they can watch their classmates battle it out on the field. College sports create a sense of community and family that ties thousands of people together from all over the country.

Compensating student-athletes would take away the excitement of watching another average joe, just like yourself, perform at a very high level, and doing it all out of the love of the game, with the hopes of making it to the big leagues someday.