Should College athletes be paid??

  Schooled Original post on In a movie called  “Schooled: The Price of College Sports” the issue of whether or not athletes should be paid is brought up. This film showcases the big money aspect that coincides with college football and basketball and the exclusion of the athletes. It takes on the question of whether or not college athletes should be paid, including tackling the amateur rule, with interviews and case studies from various athletes, administrators, coaches, journalists, and NCAA compliance officers.

Some of these people include Houston Texans’ running back Arian Foster, Sportscaster Bob Costas, ESPN analyst Jay Bilas, Joe Nocera of The New York Times, Dave Zirin of The Nation, Sports Illustrated’s Frank Deford, and historian/author Taylor Branch.

Since I can relate to most of the information in the film, I wanted to provide a review. I played football at the University of Minnesota and can refer back to some of my experiences with some of the issues brought up by this documentary.

There is no denying that college athletics is a multi-billion dollar industry. The majority of the money is made by the labor of the athletes, yet they do not reap the benefits of those earnings.

In fact, it was mentioned that the NCAA has financial growth rate bigger than McDonalds; as private companies, licensers, merchandisers, and television networks contribute to the pot. All of these elements are there to make money off of the athlete, but the athlete receives only a free scholarship and free room and board.


Now I have had this argument before with numerous classmates and non-athletes,and they all say the same thing: a free scholarship is a lot and the athletes should not be paid. To a certain level I agree, but on a major level I disagree.

A full scholarship is something to be proud of and is something most people are not afforded when they go to college, therefore most end up in debt from college loans. I know that a free education is priceless, but when an athlete signs his scholarship, he is essentially signing his offer letter to be a full time athlete and a part time student.

The moniker should be athlete-student instead of student-athlete. The amount of time an athlete must dedicate to their sport leaves little room for effective learning in school, especially for those who are academically challenged.

It is more like just getting by. As the film acknowledges, you wake up at 5 am and work out until your first class, then come back in the afternoon for meetings then practice and usually get home at night to finish your studies, then wake up the next day and start over again. This schedule would be challenging to even the brightest students.

The value of that education is great in the view of general society, but not so much to the coaches and administrators at the university who profit off the performance of the players. The coaches want you to perform well in your sport and commit the majority of your time to the team or else be liable of losing your scholarship, in which they control.

There is really no opportunity to do other things regular students have the opportunity to do like travel abroad and do internships or part-time work that could lead to job opportunities in the future.

No, you are imprisoned by the coaches and the team to produce a product so great that students have to pay to enter, TV contracts must be negotiated, merchandise is sold, facilities are renovated, and sponsors invest millions all because of your name and you get no share. The term that Arian Foster uses in film indentured servant is exactly what a student-athlete is.

An indentured servant is a laborer under contract of an employer for some period of time in exchange for transportation, food, and drink.

This is why you have had incidents where college athletes are getting in trouble for accepting money, when in reality what they are doing is not illegal for any other student on campus. Because of amateurism, athletes can not accept pay for any services during their time on a college campus.

This is a hypocrisy  because other scholarship or regular students on campus are allowed to benefit from their name if they choose. If an english major writes his own book and sells it for profit or a business major starts his own business and receives help to get started and later profits, they are not condemned. However, if an athlete takes $20 from someone to get some gas, they are criticized and punished by the NCAA.

Athletes just want their fair share for the amount of work they put in at the University. After all, college athletics is a full time job!

There is a lot of money made each week by athletes and there are still cases where the athlete does not have money to go grocery shopping. I understand that there are many benefits to being an athlete on campus (scholarship, free room and board, free trips, dinner table, national and local exposure, bowl games, etc), but there still is a feeling that athletes are manipulated to feel they don’t deserve any of the major benefits the university receives from their ability.

A lot of athletes feel this way but are afraid to speak out because of the ramifications that could come from the NCAA on them and their university. Even though they don’t agree with the system, if they want to play they must abide by the rules and keep their mouths shut.

Speaking with former and current athletes to gather their opinions on this issue was a challenge that ‘Schooled’ producer, Andrew Muscato, realized when looking for athletes to feature in the film.

“The biggest challenge came when looking for current student-athletes to follow.  We spoke to many athletes who off-the-record agreed with what we were doing but felt appearing on-camera wasn’t worth the risk. Although we were simply asking for them to tell us about their experiences as a student-athlete, everyone’s main concern was creating a rift with their former coaches and universities.  It was pretty nerve-wracking for a while because we had dozens of journalists, historians, and coaches talking about athletes but we didn’t have many athletes speaking for themselves.”

This film leads you to question whether the enforced amateurism of NCAA athletes is a plot by greedy schools, coaches and other authorities to make billions “off the backs” of talented 19 year old’s. Is the failure to pay the cynically named “student-athletes” a human and civil-rights violation that will someday be regarded as being down on a par with “the plantation mentality”?

Paying athletes will open up Pandora’s box as to which athletes should get paid what, and that is a major factor for holding onto the idea of not paying them, but the barriers of the amateurism wall will eventually fall because it is unjust.

Whatever your opinion on the matter may be, “Schooled: The Price of College Sports” provides some information to consider in the argument. When watching, try to picture yourself in the shoes of the high profile athletes on campus and don’t make up your mind until you get ‘Schooled’. This film is available on




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