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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Sunday, September 25, 2022

College athletes should not be paid unless it is for education

It’s not a new story, but it seems as though there is no escaping the constant struggle for money. And the question of whether college athletes should be paid is about one story away from being as burned out as Ryan Leaf. Seeing as how there has been an article in The Daily Cardinal this year addressing the issue already, I feel it’s my responsibility to test just how close we are to beating the question to a pulp.

College athletes should not be paid. Scratch that. College athletes should not be paid any more than they already are, unless that money is allocated towards education. Instead of focusing on players’ on-field duties, let’s turn the focus to the other half of their title, the student aspect. Every player that receives a scholarship to play a sport for a university is receiving a free education, which, at some schools, turns out to be more than the average American worker can expect to make.

Heisman candidate Manti Te’o, linebacker for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, is attending classes and will graduate from a top university. For free. If he had not been a student athlete, this would have cost him a cool $57,805, about $7 thousand more than the median annual income per household. These athletes are getting paid. What people are really up in arms about is the fact that they do not decide where their money goes. It goes towards education, whether they like it or not.

And this is truly in the best interest of the students. Money is just one more thing in a college student’s life that takes their focus off of their studies. In a controlled budget, the money that they make is 100 percent devoted to their education; it is devoted to the advancement, not of their bodies or their football program, but of their minds.

In the midst of a political election and complete lack of bipartisanship in Washington, the country has not been this divided in decades. But education is one topic that should never be called into question. It is the most important thing for our civilization, and it is what allows us to move forward as a society. If I were president, I would take the money that is going towards mindless war and funnel it into the education of our youth. Every penny. Unfortunately, America does not want an 18-year-old Badger in office (although sometimes it seems like this is the best option).

Introducing a paid salary for student athletes would bring the business side of the NCAA to the forefront, overshadowing the heart and passion that viewers love to see in college sports and that viewers are often cheated out of in professional sports. This precedent of “money first” would be the model for these players who, before they are student athletes, are America’s youth.

The most impressive athletes to me are the men and women who valued their education during their college years, the men and women who are capable of more than slinging a baseball 99 miles per hour and will put their salaries on a back burner for their team. What impresses me are the college athletes who go to class and appreciate the higher learning that has been made available to them.

But not everyone who comes into college as an athlete is capable of the kind of critical thinking that is necessary to get a degree, and many go through their collegiate careers without learning how. Less than 10 percent of college athletes make it to a professional sport, which means the vast majority of them will be thrust into a world for which they are wildly unprepared. With summers being taken up by camps and athletic training, no time is given to career building or internships.

So, pay the student athletes more. Take a fraction of the hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue that the NCAA makes annually and put it towards training the athletes for a future in the professional world not involving athletics. Private tutoring, seminars, individualized curriculum. For those who do make it to the professional sporting level, four years of monetary payment will not mean a great deal in the long run anyway. For student athletes in general, especially those who do not make it past collegiate athletics, four years of education will wind up being more valuable than any paycheck they would receive.

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