Essay On: Should Student Athletes be Compensated?

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In recent years, there has been a discussion about whether college athletes should be compensated for the amount of work they bring into athletics. A number of college athletes have threatened to unionize and have requested pay, especially when video games bearing their names are published. Proponents on this issue believe that college athletes should be compensated based on the amount of money they bring, while critics believe that the athletes' success does not guarantee their pay, including the fact that they participate in the sport willingly. As a result, the aim of this paper is to explain that college athletes should be paid for their participation in athletics. College athletes bring in a significant amount of money that entitles them some form of compensation. According to a 2015 CBS Detroit report, the NCAA Final Four average ticket cost around $1,151.98, with the tournament generating over $800 million. These findings are echoed by USA TODAY Sports, which affirmed that NCAA generated over $1 billion in 2014. Apart from the basketball tournament, other 24 athletic programs generated over $1 billion in the 2014-2015 athletic year (Mama). College football coaches earn over $1 million in a season depending on the performance of the team. Since these games are profitable, it is only fair to compensate the performers who draw this attraction. The high amounts of money generated during these events do not trickle down to the players, who are the main attraction and without them, the tournaments cannot exist. It is unfair for other people to benefit from the work ethic of these athletes without properly appreciating their efforts through monetary terms. As coaches earn their money by building a strong team, managing it, and motivating them to perform well, the athletes have also earned their money, and therefore, should be compensated accordingly.

Compensating the college athletes will help to build a nous of financial responsibility early enough. It is worth noting that most of the athletes are rather irresponsible when it comes to finances and as an ESPN documentary illustrated, many professional athletes are financially challenged after retirement. A typical example is the NBA players, who according to the report 60 percent end up being bankrupt in less than five years after retirement. The majority of these players cite immoral financial advisors, lavish spending behaviors, and poor investments as the main reason they face challenges after retirement (Mama). During their lives as professional athletes, the players are offered significant amounts of cash and image rights among other incentives that prompt them to live lavishly. This can be blamed on the imminent change of lifestyles due to the changing income. In other words, a college student moves into professional sports and imminently starts to earn significant amounts of money; hence, the irresponsibility. If schools were to compensate the athletes, it could assist them to build a firm foundation regarding finances. It is a means of introducing financial literacy at this stage so that whether the students move on to professional sports or not, they would at least have some form of responsibility when it comes to money.

Compensating student athletes is a logical way of promoting healthy living since it attracts even students who are not interested in sports. College sports can be a rational means of reducing the rates obesity and other health issues related to lack of physical activities. Obesity is a popular problem in the contemporary globe, particularly as it affects kids who are attracted to junk foods, yet they do not participate in any form of physical activity. The students are drawn to computer games more than outdoor activities, mainly because it is less exhausting and some have some form of compensation (Bilas). In that regard, compensating student athletes would encourage more students to join the sports and perform to their level best.

College students should be compensated because they sacrifice their bodies during the games. The games drain them physically, mentally, and also emotionally due to the competitive nature associated with them. For example, sports such as American football entail much contact that can injure players. During the 2013 NCAA tournament, Kevin Ware; a Louisville player suffered a horrendous injury while playing that kept him out of the sport for close to six months. In some instances, some of the players do not recover from the injuries while others are even paralyzed due to the tackles; thus, preventing them from progressing with their careers. Since the students sacrifice their physical health and bodies to play the games and possibly reach professional levels, it is only fair that they are compensated for their efforts (Patterson). They are exposed to many dangers while on the playing field, just because they love the sport and would do anything to prosper. Without compensation, students who do not continue with the game either through injury or other reasons are left to ponder their wasted time in college, resulting in stress and other related ailments. Compensating them at this level could enhance their safety even if they do not continue with the sport to professional levels.

Some of the student-athletes come from low-income families who struggle to accommodate them in their respective learning institutions. Compensating the students will enable them to support their families while enabling them to afford decent meals within the learning institutions. Some of the students even do not finish school due to the immense pressure of being the main providers for the family even from tender ages. By compensating the players, they would not have to leave school early, and they would continue their education while still caring for their families. One of the current topics in the country is college access, retention, and success, especially since most kids do not proceed to college due to the lack of fees. Apart from that, some do not continue with their college education even after starting because of similar reasons. Compensating the athletes could act as a source of income to most of the students who will be able to afford their college life (Karaim). As such, it would probably heighten the graduation rates, give the fans the opportunity to trace through their favorite players as they mature, and offer the coaches with enough time to prepare the athletes to the next level. It is an effective way of enhancing college access, retention, and success.

In recent years, there have been numerous cases of scandals where players take the money and even indulge in point shaving. Sports betting has become an addiction in the contemporary globe, especially among the fans and individuals striving to make massive amounts of money. The student athletes are prone to such corruption and influence from external parties since they are attracted to the money. Living a student to choose between winning and receiving huge amounts of cash contravenes the element of competition since most of them would rather go for the cash. In the process, a team that does not deserve to win may achieve exactly that due to corruption in the sport (Lemons). It is worth noting that sports betting even affect the professional athletes but with a lesser degree since most of them earn enough money. Compensating the student athletes could, therefore, limit the corruption in college sport as students will be encouraged to put their teams first rather than the money from external parties.

The compensation move could also attract more talent into the respective sports. Since most of the students do not see the benefits of the games, they tend to ignore them and undertake other activities thus narrowing the pool of talented individuals. This aspect can be altered through the adoption of compensation measures that helps the college students to comprehend the benefits of the games; hence attracting much talent to the benefit of all parties involved (Buckley).

Counter Argument

On the other hand, compensating college athletes could result in other detrimental impacts. By compensating the students, education may be severely affected since most of them will be entirely focused on the games since they earn a living from them. Compounded with issues such as establishing fair compensation standards, education could be affected. Furthermore, the hectic schedules involving practice and the games could have an impact on their study time. It is worth noting that not all students move on into professional life and thus without a solid education, they might be faced with significant challenges after college life. However, even though this claim is quite sensible, it is up to policymakers as well as educators to integrate all these aspects to enable students to excel in both areas. Even without compensation, the students still face hectic schedules and paying them does not change anything. They only require qualified counselors to ensure they can integrate back into the society of they do not move into professional sports (Mama).

Another argument against compensating student athletes revolves around the scholarships among other benefits. Most of the students already receive scholarships including free tuition and rooms; the students also receive stipends to assist in books and meals among other necessities. As compared to other students, student athletes have a pleasant atmosphere when it comes to student loan debts since they are already catered for. Nonetheless, the scholarships should prevent college athletes’ compensation. This is because not all of them receive these benefits, yet they are all involved in the sport. In fact, the scholarships would only be an added advantage with the main benefits emanating from the salaries (Dennis A. Johnson).


Even though fears against the compensation of college athletes may be true, they do not outweigh the unfairness related to the lack of compensation. In other words, the athletes sacrifice too much, including facing physical, mental, and emotional harm to be left empty handed. The college tournaments also fetch high amounts of profits that go to the colleges while also paying the coaches, as such, some of it should be channeled towards players compensation. It is also a way of making the students responsible from tender ages to prevent wastefulness during their professional lives. As elucidated above, many professional athletes become bankrupt less than five years after retirement. They are less prepared to handle the massive amounts of cash and make proper investments while they are still playing. Paying students could also help to curb obesity and other ailments related to lack of physical activity, while it would also attract talent. It would also reduce corruption emanating from external influence, particularly due to sports betting. Most of the athletes also come from poor backgrounds and compensating them would encourage them to assist their families. It is also an efficient mechanism for ensuring college access, retention, and success. Drawing from the various assertions and evidence provided above, it is paramount that college athletes be compensated.

Works Cited

Bilas, Jay. "College Athletes Should Be Compensated." 14 March 2012. The New York Times. 31 May 2017. .

Buckley, Dennis. "Should college athletes be paid?" Lincoln Journal Star (2014). .

Dennis A. Johnson, and John Acquaviva. "Point/Counterpoint: Paying College Athletes." The Sport Journal (2012). .

Karaim, Reed. "Paying College Athletes." (2015): 1-21. .

Lemons, Robert Scott. "Amateurism and College Athletics." (2014): 1-147. .

Mama, Raman. "Viewpoint: College athletes should be paid." 24 December 2016. USATODAY. 24 May 2017. .

Patterson, Tiffany. "Should College Athletes Be Paid?" 3 February 2017. 31 May 2017. .

October 20, 2021

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