I'll begin by saying this, I know the NCAA and the individual schools make millions off of these kids. The industry markets student athletes' likenesses on t-shirts, billboards, commercials and a multitude of other venues. This is a fact that is well known and is one of the things these students look forward to as star players on elite teams.
With that being said, first and foremost for the athletes, college is school. In all of the razzle-dazzle and hype about how these players are being taken advantage of and manipulated, we seem to have forgotten the premise behind going to college; earning a degree.
The logic behind paying student athletes is ridiculous. They should be paid because they are producing revenue for the school? The school is providing them with a free education. Most of the students not on scholarships don't contribute enough to the team to help generate revenue, so down goes their arguments. The athletes knew they wouldn't be getting a salary before they signed up. I balk at these kids who think they should be cashing a paycheck.
Let's be honest with ourselves for a moment. If we are going to separate the educational aspect from the revenue, paying these players, outside of scholarships, still makes no sense. How many working adults, with families to support, actually make as much as these students are receiving in free tuition?
There is a mutual benefit for the school and the athletes. Some may argue it's unbalanced in the favor of the school, but isn't that usually how it goes in business? Because let's face it, for the school, it is business. Call me crazy, but college tuition and exposure to the next level, the paid ranks in the sport of choice, seems like a pretty damn good deal.
We all know the age of adulthood in the United States is 18. But, we also know that our kids still need guidance at that age and sometimes well into their 20s. Certainly some kids are coming in from rough backgrounds. Why aren't we addressing that issue from a humanitarian angle, as opposed to using it as a tool to lure these kids in? Absolutely help those families, but providing a salary isn't the answer. Start a charity for God's sake, help ease that child's mind. Don't put it on his shoulders to be the sole provider. He's a kid.
It is my opinion that the adults in this debate are causing the stir. The.Greedy.Adults. The adults make college life a lot harder for the kids. In comes the greedy recruiter, who for the sake of securing the best players tempt them with, "Yes son, we know the rules are tough, but you're special, we can bend those rules. You deserve more, you'll get more!" No sir, a free education and elite status is not enough. They need to make you feel entitled as well. Cue the greedy parents who know this type of thing goes on and decide they want to cash in on their child. "Sure, he can come to your school, but what can you give us? What can you do to make us happy?" All the while, whispering in the kids ear about how much he deserves. Don't get me wrong, most schools probably do follow most of the rules, and not all of the parents are greedy scoundrels. But, we can not deny there certainly are enough of these types of people to stir the pot.
My point is, what can 17,18 and 19 year old kids possibly deserve beyond food in their bellies, a good education and an opportunity to develop the skills necessary to secure a professional career? They are blessed with the chance to excel and have a future in sports or their degreed area. The one thing they do deserve beyond that is guidance. They deserve coaches and schools who not only care about winning, but winning fairly and recruiting without dishonorable agendas. They deserve parents and other role models who love these children enough to say, "You have to work for what you get. You have to follow the rules to continue to receive the support you need." Handing these kids a salary only shows them that if enough people break the rules, the rules will be changed, and not necessarily for the better.
Sure, these kids would love to have a salary on top of the tuition they get. They can run out and get off-campus apartments and stockpile a myriad of zoom-zooms and wham-whams. Best of all, they get the grown-up luxury of going into debt. They'll get credit cards to "help out" friends and family. They'll have car loans. Of course, they'll do all of this with their new NBA and NFL salaries in mind. I'd like to see how many of the adults step up to the plate and help these kids manage their salaries, education and "jobs" as college athletes. And I mean really help them, not just lend a hand by relieving them of their cash.
I propose this, since the student athletes need to be paid, they deserve to be paid, give them the money. In lieu of scholarships, hand them the cash. Tell them they can use the cash to pay for school or they can use it to maintain their premature lifestyles. Absolutely, they can still play for the team, just enroll in one class. But, when their four years are up and they're not picked up by a pro team either because of an injury, or maybe along with their new salaries they lost the drive to continue to work toward their goals, they'll enter into the real world.
To them I will say enjoy finding a job without a degree, and please, use Mom and Dad's basement for as long as you need.