I come to you this warm January morning giddy with excitement because I get to ramble on a subject that truly interests me. It involves college sports, politics, economics, and free swag which is right up my alley. The issue of paying college athletes has been up for debate ever since LaLa Bonilla tried to convince her boyfriend, Jesus Shuttlesworth to go to the school of her crew’s choice instead of going to Big State University.
The issue has recently heated back up with National Champion and Heisman Trophy Winner, Cam Newton being involved in the alleged scandal of soliciting schools for the highest “pay for play” scenario possible. There are the traditionalists that believe that college is for students and that they should not be paid. Then there are the people who feel they should be paid just as much as professional athletes if it is equivalent to their value to the university.
I normally tend to side with the old school conservatives with my mentor, Tony Kornheiser but his predecessor, Bill Simmons has led me to new water. I don’t think student athletes should be negotiating contracts with schools and they should not deal breakers on why a student chooses a particular university. However, I do feel as though students should be compensated for the amount of time they put into their sport.
Many student athletes are recruited to go to college to play sports and for many of those students it is the only way they can financially attend college, by means of athletic scholarship. They are sometimes given free room and board which covers tuition, dorm, and a meal plan. In most instances students have to come out-of-pocket for other necessities and small luxuries that they cannot afford on their parents’ low income. Things as simple as books, a computer, school supplies, and even a new first day of school outfit become hard to come by for some families.
I certainly am not one for another form of socialized welfare for families to be able to afford their child’s tuition. Financial Aid is available to millions of people who do not take advantage of it and drawing from that pot doesn’t solve the issue. I believe that if student athletes should be paid a monthly stipend for their time and contributions to the university. Some students bring in millions of dollars in revenue to a particular school and are given nothing more than free swag.
While every young athlete loves free stuff, it is not liquid, you are not allowed to sell or trade any university given products. You cannot go to a tattoo artist and say “how about I pay you in jersey”? Oh wait…With a T Mobile Sidekick cell phone bill to pay, many of these athletes have no income of which to draw from to pay for simple amenities. If they were compensated around $2,000 a month they would have plenty of money to go to In-N-Out every once in a while instead of eating at the DC. They could afford to take that flu honey they’ve been trying to holler at in Dayton to a movie and maybe even spring for Yogurtland to seal the deal.
Now, where does all this money come from? Whether the school is privatized or a state-run institution, I feel the money should come from their schools general athletic fund. If a school has a sport that generates revenue and is profitable than it should pay its employees. If the women’s field hockey team lost money than it should be cut from being a Varsity sport and if students want to play, they can revitalize it as a club sport with paying dues.
College athletics are a business and any successful business knows it is only good as its employees. If employees have financial issues where they cannot fully focus on “work” then the odds are against them to perform at their highest ability. That then hurts not only the student but affects the school’s success as well. Obviously, higher education isn’t in the best economic state right now but if school’s want to profit from their students’ talents they should show them some good faith.
Here’s is where my idea can possibly turn into a successful slippery slope. If students from lower-income households are able to get a college education and come out of college with money saved, there is a better chance they will be successful in the workplace than if they were to come out of college with nothing but a University Studies degree, a bunch practice gear, and the pressing temptation to start “slangin’ rocks on the cona with the rest of dem boyz.”
We are all naive as to think that many top collegiate athletes are not recruited without adding in some extra incentives into the picture. It may not be cash for the student but it may be a rent-free house or car payment for Reggie Bush’s parents that would allow Reggie’s parents to buy him some Air Max 95s for his birthday (I also have a birthday coming up 😉 if they so wanted to.
Or in some blatant cases it may be “straight cash homey.” Where the student or a family member negotiates on the student’s behalf for X amount of dollars. With these types of conversations occurring every day it only hurts the team as a whole. If Cam Newton is getting paid $250,000 to come to play football, how does his walk-on offensive lineman feel when he is barely on scholarship scraping by at a private school that he really cannot afford?
This is my biggest issue. I am all about fairness and leveling the playing field and I don’t believe it is right to pay some athletes and not others. That is like Pat Riley saying “we are going to pay LeBron, Bosh, and Wade all of our money and if anyone else wants to come play, we’ll hook you up with some sweatpants.” By the way, I don’t like them but “The Heatles” nickname is genius.
Even if a student wanted to get a job while in college it becomes nearly impossible with time restrictions limited to going to school full-time and playing a sport full-time. If they cut back on their studies and their grades drop they cannot play. If they skip practice, then they can’t play. If they decide not to sleep and work instead, then all three areas drop significantly. It is the age-old double edged sword where they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.
Now that I think about it, this is one of my more professional blogs, if anyone wants to site me in any papers feel free to do so and I will buy you a beer.