Before Saying That College Athletes Should Get Paid, Ask Who’s Paying Them

By Will Arthur | USA

College athletes today are no joke. They have to balance their time between practice, working out, film, games/competitions, extracurriculars, friends, and the workload of an average college student. This is no easy task considering most college students get stressed over just their workload. College athletes’ diligence and athletic ability is paid back by colleges, monetarily, in the form of scholarships to the school they compete for. These scholarships could be a fraction of the tuition or housing, food, books, and tuition paid in full. With a full ride scholarships often reaching tens of thousands of dollars. An athlete on a full ride scholarship could effectively bring in the equivalent of a lower middle to a middle class salary. Today however, the question of do college athletes deserve scholarships and an income has been buzzing around. Some people believing that bringing actual money into the collegiate athletics will just create greed and kill competitiveness. While others say college athletes are well deserving of an income and should get paid. The typical libertarian would think “why would I care? Let the college athlete and the person paying them decide.”, but that person paying the college athlete should be a concern for college students.

Everyone knows that college tuition prices are astronomically high: it’s no secret. The last thing any college student or parent would want is higher tuition prices. It may or may not come as a shocker that many and most schools use students tuition dollars to boost athletic programs. A northeastern Ohio website found that on average schools (in Ohio) had students paying $820 for collegiate athletics through their tuition, and Ohio State was the only school (in Ohio) that funded sports teams strictly through other sources like T.V. deals, ticket sales, etc. Ohio State was also able to bring in a high enough profit to put money back into academics. In 2013 Texas A&M approved a near half a billion dollar renovation on the football field, and the students are now paying seventy-five million dollars of the bill over the next thirty years. With students typically paying around $1,000 and sometimes more would that price, to students, increase even more if college athletes get paid?

Well, it depends on who the colleges decide to pass the bill on to. If universities continue to have students pay for the price of athletics then yes: more expenses means students will have to pay more. The scariest part is not necessarily that students will have to pay more, it is how much will students have to pay more? Would there be a cap on athlete salaries? Currently, the max a college can “pay” an athlete (through scholarships) is the max cost of attending/living at the school. Would an athlete salary be a lower level income ($0-$20,000) since all their living expenses are already paid for, a high-level income ($100,000 and up) since some college games do get as many views as NFL games, or would it be somewhere in the middle? No matter what level of income is paid to athletes, if students are passed the bill students should be wary.

A possibly better solution than having students pay for any athletic costs would be to follow the path of Ohio State. Don’t have college students paying for athletic expenses (through tuition) and have the sports teams make up the costs. If athletic teams had to make up their own funding they would be forced to be competitive and to be cost-effective with the money they make. Teams would have to be competitive to attract an audience (for ticket sales, T.V. ratings, ad revenue, etc.), and they would have to be much more cost-effective because they would not have a yearly hand out to them from the school. Some may say that this system of athletic funding may be bad and/or unfair. Those people would say this because the sports teams that do not bring in a high enough revenue will either be forced to be more competitive and cost-effective or ended (due to the inability to pay its costs). A sports team being cut because it can not produce a profit may be seen as bad or unfair, but in reality, it is a part of business that sometimes has to happen. If an athletic team cannot attract the fanbase to pay for its costs then there really is no need for it to exist.

From a libertarian perspective, the only people who should really care if college athletes get paid or not are the college athletes and the individual/group paying them. It is important, however, that college students, parents, and anyone else helping pay for a college education to look into who exactly would be paying these athletes. If schools do decide to fork over the costs to students, tuition prices would certainly raise even higher (as hard as that is to believe). Personally (as a current college student) I would feel insulted if my school proposed to raise my academic costs (even more) to pay the athletes of my school. Because I (and I am sure many students) do not feel a $1,000 satisfaction from our sports programs every year to fulfill the bill we students currently pay to keep our sports programs afloat. Am I saying students should not have to pay for tickets into games? No not at all, but schools should be careful with the idea of having students that go to school for academic purposes pay for a large sum of the athletic costs.