Sports

Should College Athletes Be Paid?

One of the biggest questions surrounding the NCAA and college athletics in recent years has been whether or not college athletes should be paid. According to a survey conducted by College Pulse in 2019, over 50% of college students polled support compensating college athletes. With 460,000 athletes making a minimum $25,000 salary, this could easily cost over 11 billion dollars!

 A common misunderstanding surrounding college athletics is that athletes are already being paid.

Do College Athletes Get Paid?

Based on current NCAA rules, college athletes are unable to personally profit off of their name or likeness. This means that a college athlete cannot receive endorsement deals or sponsorships during their time as an NCAA athlete. The only money that college athletes are eligible to receive are scholarships and cost of attendance stipends from their university. The cost of attendance stipend was made legal by the NCAA in 2014 in order to allow universities to provide extra funding to student athletes to cover all tuition and attendance expenses. This ruling was made after several NCAA athletes mentioned that they would go to bed hungry because they did not have enough money to afford food.

Despite the fact that the NCAA has allowed athletes to receive extra funding, the question remains: Should college athletes be paid?

The Case for Paying College Athletes

 1. Being a Student Athlete is Like a Full-Time Job

It’s no secret that college athletes dedicate a good portion of their time to their sport. Whether it be training sessions, games, or media commitments, sources say that college athletes spend up to 40 hours a week (at least) on their sport. This is similar to working a full-time job while also attending classes and keeping up with school work. Since being an athlete requires quite a bit of time and energy, many athletes do not have time to work other jobs for money.

 2. Cost of Attending School Exceeds Scholarships

One of the biggest issues that college athletes face is finding the funds to pay for extra expenses. For quite a few athletes, the total cost of attending school exceeds the scholarship that they have been given. A large portion of student athletes come from low-income households meaning that it would be almost impossible to afford college without a scholarship. Since student athletes are limited in how they can be financially compensated during their collegiate career, many struggle to afford extra expenses that may arise.

3. Colleges and the NCAA Profit off of Athletes

Sports like college football and college basketball have become the financial backbone of many college athletic departments. In 2017, the NCAA grossed more than $970 million off of college athletics while student athletes received very minimal reimbursement. In 2014, the NCAA made it legal for schools in its Power 5 conferences (PAC-12, Big Ten, Big 12, ACC and SEC) to give student athletes a stipend as compensation for their work. However, this rule was not mandatory and many athletes still struggle to make ends meet.

College Athletes Getting Paid: The Debate

The debate about student athletes getting paid has been fueled by comments from star athletes like LeBron James and Richard Sherman, as well as politicians like Bernie Sanders. Many of these individuals have expressed that it is crucial that the NCAA pay athletes because they are workers for their universities. 

Why College Athletes Should Not Be Paid

Despite the fact that there is a large number of people in favor of the NCAA paying athletes, there are quite a few individuals who still feel that college athletes should not be paid.

There are several points that have been made in support of the argument against paying college athletes. Many college and athletics administrators and NCAA officials have tried to argue that college athletics are about students playing other students. If college athletes were to be paid, that focus would shift to employees playing employees.

Additionally, there are several reasons why paying college athletes would cause disruption in the higher education system as a whole. A bill proposed to the California state legislature called the “Fair Pay to Play Act” would allow college athletes in California to make revenue off of their name and likeness. However, several NCAA officials have opposed this bill stating that it would allow California schools an unfair advantage. The president of the NCAA even suggested that schools who allowed athletes to benefit from this bill would be barred from competing in NCAA championships.

 At this given moment in time, the NCAA and higher education athletics departments would require a large restructuring within their organizations to monitor and regulate payment of athletes. The college sports landscape as a whole would require a complete restructuring to allow athletes to profit off of it. This is another reason why many are hesitant to move forward with regulations allowing student athletes to receive financial compensation beyond scholarships. Many feel that the consequences and hardships that might come from allowing this to happen would outweigh the potential benefits.

Why College Athletes Should be Paid

On the other side of the debate, many believe that college athletes should be paid because they should be allowed to profit off of their name and likeness. Advocates for the “Fair Pay to Play Act” and other initiatives in favor of paying college athletes suggest that while it might be a struggle initially, college athletes getting paid could be a legitimate enterprise. This enterprise could be used to benefit both college athletes and local businesses in college towns by allowing those athletes to receive promotions from businesses in exchange for endorsements.

 Think of it this way. What if an athlete like Joe Burrow – or any member of the LSU Championship team – could partner with a local restaurant in Baton Rouge in exchange for profit or free meals? Chances are the business would gain visibility and the athlete would also benefit from the exchange.

 Of course, paying college athletes would come with its own set of challenges, but many feel it’s time to correct the fundamental wrong that is profiting off of young athletes while preventing them from receiving any of that revenue. If fans are going to continue to enjoy college game days and expect top notch performances from college athletes, allowing college athletes to profit off of their name and likeness is something that will need to be considered. While the star football or basketball player may seem like a local celebrity, they’re still a young college student trying to make ends meet.

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References:

  1. https://www.athleticbusiness.com/college/how-ncaa-athletes-are-spending-their-extra-stipends.html
  2. https://bleacherreport.com/articles/654808-pay-for-play-should-college-athletes-be-compensated
  3. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/11/student-athletes-should-get-paid-college-students-say.html
  4. https://www.collegesportsmadness.com/article/18319#:~:text=A%20Salary%20Would%20Help%20Student-begin%20their%20adult%20life%20securely
  5. https://globalsportmatters.com/youth/2019/04/09/ncaa-says-amateurism-is-key-while-student-athletes-are-left-without-food/
  6. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/26/learning/should-college-athletes-be-paid.html
  7. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/29/ncaa-proposes-letting-college-athletes-get-paid-for-endorsements-220507
  8. https://www.si.com/college/2020/04/29/ncaa-name-image-likeness-rules-college-sports

Rashard Mendenhall: A Renaissance Man in Pads

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            Many people have joked that the NFL stands for “Not For Long” rather than the National Football League. The average length of a professional football career is brief, and players are becoming increasingly aware of it. Take Rashard Mendenhall, a healthy 26 year-old running back that recently announced his retirement from football. Mendenhall’s retirement came in the form of a lengthy essay published in the Huffington Post, and many fans were surprised to read why he decided to leave the game so early.

As it turns out, despite the opportunity to earn several more millions of dollars as a professional athlete, Mendenhall would rather quit while he’s ahead to go explore other aspects of life. In his essay, he expresses deep interest in dance, art, and literature. He voices a desire to go out and simply live his life without the constant public spotlight. Fans may have previously realized that Mendenhall was humble and soft spoken, but they likely never knew just how much of a Renaissance man he really is.

I don’t contend that Rashard Mendenhall deserves any special praise for the choice he made. It was a personal decision and he didn’t do anything spectacular for anyone else. However, I argue that he deserves a great deal of respect for the way he handled his business. In a well-written piece directed at his fans, he revealed his integrity and sophistication like no other athlete has recently done. By reaching out to his fan base in this particular manner, Mendenhall showed us that football players are people too. And some of them have hidden desires and interests that we would never expect.

Read his essay here:

A Changing Sports World: America and Soccer

The life of an immigrant in America is anything but conventional. There are countless things one comes to learn about this nation by way of pure exposure to culture. Having come from Bulgaria, I predicted that the passions of Americans would differ drastically from those most prevalent in the rest of the world. America has always presented itself as being divergent, but also as being a leader. The proverbial “city on a hill” has always set a political and economic example that other, less powerful nations use as a benchmark to evaluate their progress. The question is, can we say as much about America from a cultural perspective?

To evaluate this question, we can look to sports. There is nothing more global than a common passion that almost serves as a universal language. Throughout the world, football, or soccer (admittedly an American fabrication) serves this type of purpose. The majority of the world’s nations cite football as the dominant sport within their culture and some even go as far as comparing it to religion. If you think this claim is an exaggeration, I urge you to visit a nation such as Brazil, where the kick of a ball precedes the first roll of the tongue. The sport is entirely engrained in the culture and a single match has the power to unify or divide an entire nation.

Can this phenomenon be achieved in the United States? Basketball, football, and baseball all serve as national sports, but there are few people who harbor an equal amount of passion for all three. Football season always brings about feverish fanaticism, but it doesn’t ever seem as if the entire nation is unified over a single event, barring the heavily advertised colossus that is the Superbowl. Different regions of the country seem to swarm around distinct sports, so sectionalism is unavoidable.

Until recent times, “soccer” had been relegated to a lowly place on the ranking of sports in America. It was simply seen as a way in which kindergarteners, pre-schoolers, and elementary school students could get their exercise without any serious commitment. Starting in middle school, soccer was abandoned and most likely replaced by sports more in tune with American culture. The passion behind soccer has always seemed rather foreign to the American people. This is one of the first things I noticed when I initially set foot on an American playground as a ten-year-old immigrant. As late as the early 2000s, the majority of participants in soccer programs across the United States were likely to be of foreign descent. This begs the question, how has such a global phenomenon had such difficulty penetrating American culture? The question will likely remain unanswered.

An encouraging move was eventually made in 2007, when a footballing icon in the form of David Beckham made his move from Spanish giants Real Madrid to the Los Angeles Galaxy. America was buzzing. Youngsters were starstruck and, for the first time, felt passion for the beautiful game. Training facilities were expanded, the media increasingly began to integrate soccer into mainstream culture, and the nation’s attention turned to something it had been missing for years. There are bright times ahead for soccer in America and we can only hope its progress remains unimpeded.

 

Lionel Messi: Living Legend

Who is Lionel Messi? Not anyone too impressive; he’s only an Argentine footballing prodigy that had multiple world-class clubs at his feet at the tender age of 11, shortly after a daunting diagnosis of growth hormone deficiency. The diminutive twinkle-toed forward caught the eyes of the world while playing in the Argentine youth divisions with famed Newell’s Old Boys. Sporting a significantly smaller stature than other boys his age, Messi startled with his close control and commanding balance, weaving through defenders and excelling when odds seemed to be stacked against him.

Seemingly destined for fame, it was only a matter of time before the big boys came knocking. Lionel couldn’t escape the attentions of talent scouts in his time in Argentine football. On a day that shaped his destiny, a representative of Catalan giants FC Barcelona expressed his desire to bring Messi to Spain in order to continue his development and eventually transform him into a first-team competitor. In a strange turn of events, many clubs were turned off by the enormity of Messi’s medical expenses, which all went toward the consistent treatment of his growth hormone condition. Barcelona’s board of executives likely looks to the sky and gratefully embraces the clairvoyant whose astonishing foresight prompted the signing of a legend, despite a hefty cost. The world wasn’t quite prepared to witness Messi’s astronomical rise and still stands in awe as the Argentina captain commandingly embodies the essence of Barcelona football club and the beautiful game upon every single match day.

Despite the generous sprinkling of talent throughout the world of football, Messi’s shadow is seemingly all encompassing. Witnessing the brilliance of the little genius on a football field is virtually equivalent to being in the presence of Da Vinci as his hand calculatedly traces the outline of Mona Lisa’s infamous visage. The ball is magnetized by his feet, which scuttle around defenders, often leaving them dumbfounded. Concrete examples of Messi’s magic are innumerable. Consider his performances in La Liga – the goal against Getafe a few seasons back, when he picked up the ball right by the midfield line to go on a mazy streak past all opposing defenders and finish in an effort that immediately drew comparisons to Diego Maradona. How about his Champions League career and his single-handed dismantling of Arsenal?

In an era of footballers such as Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, Xavi Hernandez, and Andres Iniesta, Messi’s mercurial talent has indubitably distinguished him as a legend. His imprint in football culture renders him immortal in my own head, as well as in the hearts of fans all across the world.

Olympics & London Love

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you’re well aware of the hoopla surrounding London, the Royal Family—Will and Miss Kate included, and of course, the Summer Games.

Last summer I studied abroad in London. I spent three amazing months there and needless to say, it was hard to come home. I loved everything about it, from roaming the streets pretending to be Kate Middleton, to shopping on Oxford Street, and most of all, taking the tube to and from work every day (In addition to my classes I had a summer internship).

While I was there the city was well underway preparing for the Olympics. You could take tours of the event sites, some which were still under construction, and there was even a digital countdown in Trafalgar Square in anticipation of the summer to come. I was having a blast, but part of me was jealous. I came across the pond a summer to soon it felt like. Instead of living in the moment, London was fast-forwarding my time there and already looking ahead to the next big event.

I managed to get over my small twinge of Olympic jealousy and enjoy the rest of the summer. From copious amounts of tea, to lazy days in Hyde Park, it was a summer to remember. However, as I sit and reminisce of my London days gone by I can’t help but wonder, what would my time there have been like just one year later?
Here are things I would have loved, and some I’m glad I dodged.

For one, this year marked the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. There was a huge celebration—and as I mentioned before, unless you’re living under a rather large rock, I’m sure you heard, saw, or read about it. The energy surrounding the event alone would be enough to make a London summer spectacular—not to mention if you got close enough to see any action! What a way to kick start the Olympic summer season. Anything remotely involving the Royal Family gets the city excited. You can smell the joy and tradition in the air.I would have loved to watch the commotion and join in the cheers.

As the games grow closer, I would have loved to be able to see the preparation for large amount of athletes, spectators, and tourists. When I was living there last summer, one of many preparations, was a huge apartment project under construction specifically to accommodate the large numbers expected to visit over the duration of the games. It was supposedly an “Ikea Village”, meaning everything was designed efficiently and to utilize the least amount of space while still being trendy and modern. The Swedish know how to use their space. These apartments would have been incredible to see—I would have taken note on how to maximize my school townhouse floor plan!

Now despite the energy, the cheering, and the pure thrill of being in any city for the Olympics (which I’m sure nothing can compare to), there’s one thing I’m glad I didn’t have to encounter.

Traffic. London is packed. It’s busy all the time. Add the Olympics into the mix and I’ll let you do the math. The tube, the streets, even the sidewalks are going to be a nightmare. If there weren’t designated sidewalk lanes before, now might be a good time to think about adding some. Travelers be prepared and have your traffic game face on.

Not a day goes by when I don’t secretly wish to be back in London, practicing my British accent and drinking tea, and the preparation and anticipation for all of the summer events, whether they be royal or Olympic in nature, have me wishing just a little bit harder. The Olympics are always fascinating and fun to watch, regardless of where they are taking place, but the fact that they’re in London this year makes it that much more exciting. I’ll be anxiously awaiting—and drinking tea, of course!

-Ring Queen