A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

College Athletes Deserve Money

“I don’t feel student-athletes should get hundreds of thousands of dollars, but there are hungry nights that I go to bed and I’m starving,” said student-athlete Shabazz Napier.

On April 7, University of Connecticut point guard Shabazz Napier helped lead his team to its fourth national championship, captivating fans with his electric play. Napier became a household name to college basketball’s followers.

79,000 people paid an average of $500 per ticket to attend the national championship game, played at AT&T Stadium in Dallas. Not to mention, CBS paid an estimated $800 million to broadcast the game. The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is among the most profitable annual events in sports, and yet some of the main contributors are going to bed hungry. Imagine producing a successful Hollywood film without paying the main actors. College sports are a firsthand account of this.

Former professional basketball player Chris Webber voiced his frustration with the NCAA’s rules. Webber was irked because he was broke and “couldn’t afford to buy a Big Mac, while local vendors sold his jersey for $50.” Webber wove the magic into the University of Michigan’s jersey. Webber’s play was the sole reason why fans wanted that jersey. For a brief second, fans could feel like they were something more than just a spectator. They could become defined in a way; they could become Chris Webber.

According to a recent NCAA survey, college football players dedicate, an average of 43.2 hours a week to football. An employee earning $9 an hour and working 43.2 hours a week would make roughly $390. What is the line that distinguishes an employee from a college athlete?

At the end of the day, our economy thrives off of the basic principle of supply and demand. These athletes are supplying the product the fans are demanding, though the athletes continue to be stuck with the short end of the stick due to the NCAA’s strict rules and regulations. College athletes are expected to endure this treacherous workload week after week, and receive nothing.

The athletes take a full-time job as a player and put their bodies on the line daily to compete. They don’t have time to work an outside job and have no way of making additional money. Athletes who get injured or land themselves in trouble can have their scholarships dismissed, leaving them in a heinous situation. Not only are they in danger of being cut from their team, but also they are likely to drop out due to insufficient funds.

What kind of message is this sending to young athletes?

It’s basically making them slaves. They are useful as long as they perform and earn money for the college, but the instant something goes wrong, they are exiled.

College athletes should get paid based off of their performance because their sport is their job. The players all have other financial responsibilities they need to handle and their respective schools are gaining hundreds of millions of dollars from their talents.

The hypocrisy involved with the business side of the NCAA is preposterous.

In 2008, University of Alabama received $123.8 million of total revenue after expenses. Their coach, Nick Saban, made $5.5 million that year. The amount that University of Alabama athletes received that year, and every year, for that matter: zero.

In 2013, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel sold his autographs. The NCAA has rules against this and opened up an investigation. This investigation was not only a huge distraction, but it was also embarrassing for Manziel, as every thing he did was dissected under a microscope. Resulting with not only the NCAA monitoring Manzil like a hawk, but the media as well. Manziel is a member in a capitalist, democratic system.

If there are buyers who want to purchase his signature for a worthy stipend, why shouldn’t they be allowed? Why should the vendors get money for selling an item an athlete endorses, while the endorser makes nothing?

The NCAA’s profiteer ways are leading athletes towards disregarding the college athletic program and focusing solely on pursuing their professional interests. The trickle down effect this is having throughout our society is immeasurable, as these inexperienced young adults are signing multimillion dollar contracts exposing them to drastic lifestyle changes that even the most mature and wise adults would have trouble accepting responsibly.

Back in the glory days before colleges were making million dollar profits, college football united America and could temporarily halt all of Uncle Sam’s problems. It was a sport where all creeds and colors could unite during the Civil Rights movement. It was a sport where heroes would go out and dominate every Saturday, and then enlist in the war because that was their duty. Players earned mud-stained numbers and faces so bloody and beat-up, they resembled nothing close to a human. It was the cliché image that every football fan was accustomed to.

These players had no helmets and no pads, yet they got up play after play and were ready to die for their teammates. Players would go out there not because they had to, but because they were possessed with a need and desire to prove themselves every Saturday.

They are not ‘prima-donnas’ for wanting a basic living wage, because they spend a vast majority of their time preparing for their upcoming game and are simply unable to work.

Life for a college athlete can be difficult. They have to adhere to the NCAA’s rules, university rules, and team rules. To top it all off between studying, practice, game time and travel, where does the student-athlete find time to scrape together enough pennies for human comforts that we take for granted?

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Brennan Cole, Staff Writer

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