Pay for Play: College athletes
Concurrent to the onslaught of March Madness, once again the debate flares over whether college athletes should be paid to play. Talk about madness!
The objections to paying college athletes to play are myriad. The benefits are next to nil. Let me elucidate.
First of all, excuse me, but it seems that a 4-year scholarship, room, board, and books (and tutors for those who – surprise! – can’t keep their grades up) IS payment. If an athlete does not take advantage of these things, well, that’s his or her own fault.
Second, who are you going to pay? A university only makes money on one or two sports, usually football and basketball (maybe baseball or hockey too, depending on the geographical location). So if the logic is that the players are making money for the school and they should therefore be compensated, the question arises as to what you’re going to pay all of the athletes in sports that COST the university money. Are you going to charge wrestlers, golfers, water polo players, gymnasts, soccer players, sprinters and shot-putters to play? Or do we begin at the college level (and far earlier, in reality) to send the message to kids that you should do something that’ll bring in the green, not something that you love?
And what of women athletes? None of their sports make money. Do we charge women for participation, or simply pay them less for the same job, just like corporate America does?
Finally, let’s be honest. Big-time college athletes in big-time sports DO get paid, beyond the scholarships. Everyone who is not a complete Pollyanna knows this and will admit it.
Several years ago, I was playing golf at Michigan State, where I was working on my doctorate. I was paired with a couple of undergrads, one of whom had been a highly recruited running back out of high school. He was telling the other undergrad about how, while he was still in high school, boosters from various universities vied for his letter of commitment by buying his mother an SUV, by flying his family to Florida for a vacation, etc., etc.
During his sophomore year at State, he tore up his knee and his career ended. But his scholarship didn’t. His free ride was guaranteed, and his afternoons were free to play golf. He was a semester away from finishing his accounting degree, and had a line on a good job.
Oh, and the sports car that a booster bought for him when he came to State? Yeah, he got to keep that, too.
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To anyone, Like Eric, that was offended by my comment that "none of [women's sports] make money" for a school:
I was talking in terms of averages: Yes. SOME women's sports make money for SOME schools. If your team is in the Softball World Series, that team will likely bring in money for the school. On average, most sports are lucky if they cover their own expenses, including scholarships, travel, equipment, coaching and staff, etc.
Case in point: The University of Massachusetts' MENS football team was in danger of being cut completely a couple of years ago because it costs the cash-strapped university so much money to operate. Now football is the most expensive sport there is, given the size of the team and the amount of equipment, but still, is there any doubt that if the football team cannot cover expenses that less popular sports will bring in even less for a school? And unfortunately often women's games/matches are not as well attended as men's -- I'm not saying it's right or that it's always the case, just that it tends to be the case.
So, I repeat: Not ALL women's sports cost a university money. Most women's sports are happy to cover their expenses. Ditto MOST men's sports, with the obvious exception of the ones that have TV contracts or high-profile boosters.
I fail to see how this could "offend" anyone.
Thinking in terms of how a reader will interpret short, direct statements like 'None of them make money,' may help you not look like an idiot when commenting on your own column.
After you backtracked and explained what you 'really' meant by elaborating on those comments, it did make more sense and would be difficult to percieve as offensive.
Perhaps you should have elaborated more the first time around to avoid being labeled as assumptuous and liberal with the use of absolutes.
The same goes, I take it, when it comes to responses. I assume you meant "presumptuous."
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