paying college athletes essay

College athletes have long been idolized by those who wanted to play in college but could not because of personal circumstances. Over the years the talent that has come out of college athletics is incredible. It’s been so good that coaches and universities have been willing to jeopardize the program’s future. Paying college athletes is a slippery slope because it can benefit them and their future not to mention the university’s. However, it takes away from the amateurism of the sport and separates it from pro sports. The potential to build a super team is enticing but also could ruin college sports. So fixing a deal where all benefit is key.

Many fans are not for paying the college athletes because they still believe in the idea of amatuer athletics. This isn’t a bad thing, these people would say student athletes are being paid through the scholarships and free tuition received based off of their performance. This is true but not every college athlete has a full ride and those that do can lose it from acquiring an injury which could end their college career as a student and an athlete. A sad reality is that the education of a collegiate athlete is usually pushed into the background while the sport and anything it has to do with is prioritized above all else. There are a few issues with paying collegiate athletes. One of them is very few schools have the ability to pay players based off of the generated profit without relying on student fees which is institutional aid. Bigger schools would thrive and smaller schools would struggle.

Creating issues among schools on how to balance the budget. The incentives that come with playing college athletics are extremely beneficial. In that, the athletes are able to produce a name for themselves among the media and world of athletics. Fame and athletes equals money. A lot, of money and so once they leave college then is the time to make that change. Education should be the initial goal though. The athletes on scholarship are rewarded by playing well. College is meant to prepare you for life and being able to play a sport that also helps you pay for your education is a tremendous achievement that less than two percent (8 Things,) of all college students are able to say about themselves. All student-athletes that sign a letter of intent or agree to accept a scholarship to play a sport prior to attending acknowledge that the school’s only focus is to make the most money off of the student they have just invested in. There are so many sacrifices made by collegiate athletes. Between missing classes, crazy traveling schedules, and practices during the holidays. It can take a toll but it’s worth it to them.

The hours of practice and commitment to school pays off. Universities make millions of dollars off of their student athletes and the athletes don’t see any of the money. This is partly why the number of collegiate athletes are leaving for the pro leagues after only two and three years of school is increasing. The incentive to make a very large some of money trumps the collegiate field. So some schools have began to pay athletes based off of performances. Games are nationally televised and all for the sake of money so why are the players not able to receive some of it openly. Between men’s college football and basketball they bring in six billion. That’s more than the NBA does for a whole year and that’s even after the playoffs are included(Nocera.) A judge recently declared that football players of Northeastern University were employees of the school and not just student-athletes. So as you can see there are a lot questions or problems up in the air and how we go about solving them is the next step. Because if the sole focus is on how we pay student athletes then we’ve lost all together.

These eighteen to twenty-one year olds are being thrown into a sport that has been turned into a business but everyone blindly and slightly goes on to believe that it is all about the education when the money points to a different reality. That’s just the athletic side of things. On the academic side, contrary to popular belief, you are required to maintain a certain level of excellence in the classroom. Now, of course you are given plenty of resources to ensure that you succeed, but the majority of the work rests on your shoulders. On the recruiting trail, schools love to tout their graduation rates. It’s a way of luring the parents into letting their beloved children go to a school. The amount of tutors available to a student matter to parents when talking to coaches. In order to back up that talk, the current players have to do their job in the classroom to make the numbers look good. Now, yes, every team has certain classes with certain professors who almost guarantee you an A, but not every class you take is like that. This is where the tutors come in. When you’re the only player in a political science seminar class, the tutor helps put the lessons into more common language so you can understand better.

Do I think this is unfair? Not at all. Nonathlete students have access to tutors and study groups as well. It’s just not mandatory for them. All that aside, playing football in college is the greatest thing in the world. Playing in front of your family members in the stadium and in front of millions more on TV on Saturdays is so gratifying after all the work you’ve put in during the week. It becomes more than just a game when you’ve been playing it since you were 9 years old. Your teammates become your brothers, and your coaches become father-figures and long-lost uncles. The real joy of collegiate football doesn’t come from the moments on the field, though; it comes from the hours of laughing and joking around in the locker room after practice, the video-game sessions in the players’ lounge, group trips to the dining hall, and all of the other bonding activities you go through as a team.

At the end of the day, I know I can trust my brothers on the field because I’ve looked in their eyes as we’ve gone through countless hours of training and I’ve seen the determination inside them. It pushes me to be better so I don’t let anyone down. After college, I’ll have a group of friends that will last me a lifetime—a group that I know I can rely on if I ever needed anything, and they know I’d have their back as well. Even after the football is over, I can say that having that on your resume might be one of the biggest attributes in an employer’s eyes. They already know that you can work on a team and handle adverse situations. It also creates great talking points in an interview. I’ve gone through interviews where the person seemed like they were more interested in hearing some of my football stories than the actual job at stake, though I would go so far as saying that playing football got my foot in the door to the current position I just accepted. Long story short, playing football in college in hard yet extremely rewarding. Just getting to this stage is an accomplishment worth noting, and getting through it is an even bigger one. Football is a lifestyle that requires 100 percent dedication.

If you’re not in it all the way, you won’t succeed and it will be miserable. Yes it might be hard and yes you might think there’s no end in sight sometimes. You’ll question yourself and wonder if you made the right decision in what school you chose or even if you’re good enough to play at all. Once you get through that, though, it’s smooth sailing. It’s something that you can leverage to do even greater things in life. Most profits from college athletics do not go towards academics. Instead, they go to the coaches, athletic directors, and some administrators, reports Edelman . Student-athletes do not need to receive huge salaries like their coaches; rather, they could still be paid a reasonable amount relative to how much the program makes. Scholarships often cover most of the student-athletes’ books and room expenses, but even few extra hundred dollars per year could compensate for the lack of time these students have to earn spending money at a regular part-time job, argues Harnett . It’s also important to note that college student-athletes are not only a part of a sports team; they are a part of the college or university’s advertising team.

For example, the “Flutie effect” is used to describe a surge in college admission following a big sports win. It’s named for Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie; he won the Heisman Trophy in 1984, and the College’s admissions rose significantly in subsequent years—though the extent of Flutie’s impact has been largely refuted by BC officials since then. Still, colleges and universities use their athletic success to promote their school and entice potential applicants. Student-athletes would be paid for this and all the additional benefits they provide for their schools. It’s time for all sports fans to wake up and realize that the current system benefits only the elite few who continue to perpetuate the myth of ‘amateur athletics.’ Everyone would benefit from a college athletics system that provides its athletes with better compensation and lifetime health care. If we truly enjoy college athletics and want them to continue, we better start calling for changes now.

Because if we continue to throw more and more money into this broken system, it won’t be long before the whole thing falls apart and we all lose. In a January 2003 New York Times Magazine cover story called ‘Football Is a Sucker’s Game,’ writer Michael Sokolove said that officials at the University of South Florida were building a major football program in the hope that ‘the kind of magic’ ascribed to ‘the Flutie effect’ would then strike the Tampa campus. And they aren’t the only ones. The State University of New York at Buffalo and the University of Connecticut, for example, have both moved to Division I-A in football in recent years, and officials at both institutions cite the Flutie factor as a basis for those actions. Sokolove himself credited it with ‘transforming BC from a regional to a national university.” So was the Flutie factor real? The answer is that Doug Flutie increased applications to Boston College, but not nearly as much as the public and the media believe or as academic planners at some institutions seem to hope in justifying the millions of dollars they invest in football.

Applications to BC did surge 16 percent in 1984 (from 12,414 to 14,398), and then another 12 percent (to 16,163) in 1985. But these jumps were not anomalous for BC, which in the previous decade had embarked on a program to build national enrollment using market research, a network of alumni volunteers, strategically allocated financial aid, and improvements to residence halls and academic facilities, says John Maguire ’61, Ph.D.’66. The chairman of the board of Maguire Associates, a well-known enrollment management consulting firm, Maguire headed admissions at BC from 1971 to 1983. ‘Doug Flutie cemented things, but the J. Donald Monan factor and the Frank Campanella factor are the real story,’ he said, referring to BC’s former president and executive vice president. Michael Malec, a BC sports sociologist who has studied the relationship between athletic success and enrollment, notes that in 1972 the College of A&S opened its doors to women, and in 1974 the University acquired three residence halls at Newton College and built three more residence halls (the Mods, Edmond’s, and Rubenstein), adding Walsh Hall in 1980, effectively doubling the pool of applicants and the housing capacity. ‘Doug Flutie made some terrific contributions to BC,’ said Malec, ‘but his personal impact on enrollment during this period has been exaggerated.’

Applications to BC had in fact increased 15 percent in 1973 (the year after Fr. Monan took office), 13 percent in 1975, and 14 percent in 1976—years when football was successful but not remarkably so. Between 1970 and 1983, in fact, applications to BC increased in 12 of 13 years, no matter the fortunes of the football team, and they nearly doubled (6,605 to 12,411) between 1970 and 1978. Ah, 1978. If Flutie in 1984 was the apotheosis of BC football, the 0-11 record of the 1978 Eagles was its modern statistical nadir. (The spiritual nadir would not arrive until 1996, with revelations of team members who bet on their own games.) Yet applications in 1978 went up more than 9 percent, and the next few years saw continued increases at the same time as the football program continued to sputter. In a 1994 article in the Economics of Education Review , BC economist Robert Murphy reported on a study of 55 universities with I-A football programs (BC was not in the study group) that found a positive and statistically significant correlation between a winning football season and increases in applications. But the predicted application increase based on the research was a modest 1.3 percent tied to a three-win improvement over the previous season. ‘Sports can attract an applicant’s attention,’ said John Mahoney ’79, BC’s director of undergraduate admission.

‘But then the institution has to stand up to the scrutiny that applicants and their parents are going to apply to the US News rating, physical plant, campus culture, percent of classes taught by full-time faculty, and how many graduates are employed at graduation or go on to law or medical school. It’s been my experience that folks who are making six-figure investments on behalf of their children tend not to get distracted by box scores, one way or the other.’ In fact, in 1997, one year after revelations about gambling resulted in a coach’s resignation, 13 student-athlete suspensions, an investigation by the NCAA, and hundreds of embarrassing media reports, applications for admission came in at 16,455, virtually unchanged from the previous year.

Two years later, when applications jumped by a record 17 percent to 19,746, the surge followed a 4-7 year for football. How does an idea like the ‘Flutie factor’ become sufficiently rooted that the New York Times cites it as a given without further comment and some universities invest millions of dollars in its enchanting possibilities? First, the premise seems intuitively true. Second, the premise is sometimes demonstrable. The number of applications to BC did increase 30 percent over Flutie’s junior and senior years. At Georgetown University, whose men’s basketball team appeared in NCAA championship games in 1982, 1984, and 1985, applications rose 45 percent between 1983 and 1986. And freshman enrollment at Gonzaga University rose from 549 to 979 between 1997 and 2001, years in which Gonzaga’s men’s basketball team outplayed some of the nation’s powerhouses in the NCAA tournament. Were there other reasons for the rise of Georgetown and Gonzaga?

No doubt, but they were not nationally televised. Asked about the media’s attachment to the Flutie factor, Barbara Wallraff, who writes the ‘Word Court’ column for the Atlantic Monthly , said, ‘It’s painful to fact-check everything. Media will often reprint what has been published, especially when it appears in reputable publications. ‘Flutie factor’ is a short, alliterative way to describe something that is complicated to explain. But what makes a good term is not always the literal truth.’

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