Revenue Producing Athletes Deserve a Share
Look around a professional football stadium and the audience is screaming for their team, wearing their favorite player’s jersey, chomping on burgers and guzzling down a beverage. The stadium is electric, and the same scenery will be seen around every major college football stadium. The difference; the 49er is getting paid millions while the Oregon Duck is getting paid nothing. Both stadiums have fans representing the players with shirts and jerseys and the players both train non-stop to make their fans happy, yet only one side is getting a reward for their actions. The same goes for basketball whose playoffs make billions of dollars, with the players not earning one cent. With the amount of money being made from these players, they deserve a slice of the pie. However, this cannot be said for every athlete or every level of athlete. Division 1 revenue producing athletes deserve to be paid.
Many people in the general public believe that every athlete has a full scholarship, but in reality this is far from true. According to the National College Players Association in a report in September of this year, the average full football scholarship at a Football Bowl Series (formerly know as Division 1) lacks $3,222 in education expenses that range from parking fees to simple utilities. With the hours spent training, practicing, traveling, playing in games, and finding time to study, student-athletes simply do not have any time to go out and get a job to earn money. College students have a hard enough time managing a school schedule with a work schedule, so an athlete would definitely not have the time. Think no more, because the work numbers for a college athlete show their commitment. According to an NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) study done earlier this year, football players in the Football Bowl Subdivision spend 43.3 hours per week during the season in athletic time commitment, and men’s Division 1 basketball players spend 39 hours per week during the season in athletic time commitment. These numbers do not even include numerous hours in the off-season. A step taken to get closer to full scholarships was brought up in October of this year by NCAA President Mark Emmert, when he proposed that conferences increase grants by $2,000 for the cost of attending college beyond the athletic scholarships athletes receive for tuition, fees, room, board, and books. The National College Players Association believes this is a step but far from the solution. “With record TV revenues, the cap should be raised to the full cost of attendance and funding should be guaranteed,” said Ramogi Huma, President of the organization whose group has collected 339 petitions from current athletes at five schools supporting that position. Inching towards full scholarships for athletes is just a small step to start the solution.
Many sports writers are for paying college athletes and many are not. One that has recently changed his views from against paying for college athletes to being for the action, is ESPN’s Michael Wilbon. When asked what made him change his mind on this situation, Wilbon says, “That $11 billion deal — OK, it’s $10.8 billion to be exact — between the NCAA and CBS/Turner Sports for March Madness between 2011 and 2024.” That deal right there is worth $10.8 billion for only three weekends of basketball per year. The NCAA, schools, television companies and may other companies using advertisements during these three weekends make a ridiculous amount of money, yet the players providing the entertainment are being paid nothing. This is just one of many examples that the NCAA has plenty of many to share to the people that make these events possible and this money maker is only three weekends per year. Wilbon goes on to argue, “What if people in the business of money took $1.3 billion off the top, invested it, sheltered it and made it available to provide a stipend to college athletes, how could anybody stand on principal and argue against paying the people who make the events possible in the first place?” This amount of money seems like a lot, but its only $1.3 billion off $10.8 billion that is being paid for only three weekends. There is much more money out there and with more than just men’s basketball.
Men’s basketball is clearly a powerhouse in money when it comes to college sports, but football is not too far behind in any means. When looking at revenue and profit, college football needs to be seen as a business powerhouse. Last year, University of Texas was the leader in both revenue and profits gained from their college football program. The Longhorns brought in a revenue from the football program of $93,942,815 million and a profit of $63,830,484 million. According to Chris Isidore, senior writer for CNN Money, on average, each team earned $15.8 million last year, or well over $1 million per game in 2010. Each game, workers for the football program for these colleges could consider themselves part of a $1 million game without hitting an opponent or scoring a dazzling touchdown. That simply does not seem right and down right selfish. What is also interesting is the teams that are at the top of the charts for revenue and profits from their football programs. In a study according to AOL News, Brett McMurphy states that in the 2008-09 football season Florida, Georgia, Alabama, LSU, Auburn, and South Carolina all ranked in the top ten. What makes these six schools interesting? All six of them are in the South East Conference, which has been a powerhouse in football. The South East Conference has represented a champion in college football the last five years. Simply, the schools making the most money from their programs are having the most success on the field, yet the players are not receiving any money.
Many people wonder how much these athletes are truly worth, and the numbers don’t lie. In a report, “The Price of Poverty in Big Time College Sport,” according to Ramogi Huma and Drexel University professor Ellen J. Staurowsky, if college sports shared their revenues the way pro sports do, the average Football Bowl Subdivision player would be worth $121,000 per year, while the average basketball player at that level would be worth $265,000. This report was conducted by the scholars in September of this year. These numbers aren’t just for players winning major awards, this an average of every single player. The numbers are already astonishing, but just think of how much a Heisman winning player is worth. Just like one would think, the players at the most powerful programs are worth the most money. The report shows that Texas football players and Duke basketball players are worth the most money for their sports. Texas football players are estimated to be worth an average of $513,000 and Duke basketball players are estimated to be worth around a whopping average of $1 million each. These players are worth this money and produce every week to the best of their abilities and are clearly compensated under their fair market value with their current scholarships.
With all this money and clear evidence for paying college athletes, many people may wonder how there is no action being taken. Unfortunately, there are many complications in this situation. In his article, Wilbon states that he only wants to see athletes who produce revenue receive a share of it. This would mean that essentially only Football Subdivision Series football programs, Division 1 men’s basketball and possibly Tennessee and University of Connecticut women’s basketball would receive money. Sports such as lacrosse, softball, field hockey, and sadly even baseball would not be paying their athletes due to not producing enough revenue. However, this would go against Title IX, because if a school pays their star football player a certain amount then they must also pay their field hockey player as well. Title IX is a federal law, which goes further than the NCAA. The NCAA has also stayed behind their case for amateurism hard and haven’t truly entertained the idea of paying college athletes. These complications go as far as the federal law, but simply they’re the public’s view on what is fair.
Despite having complications, there are also many solutions to the problem. ESPN’s Mark Schlabach states solutions that include full scholarships, giving players a stipend, compensate star athletes, and pay athletes that actually make the school money. Currently, the NCAA has rules and restrictions that get in the way of these solutions, but the solutions all have reasonable facts for being solutions. Although many changes need to be made, some rules need to be rules. The boosters for the universities need to stay out of the athletes’ lives. They should not be giving them money or special rides in Ferraris. Wilbon and and Huma believe athletes should be able to endorse themselves and there is nothing wrong with that. If a buyer is willing to pay top dollars for an athlete’s signed merchandise than they deserve that money. That is simply business, and if one player receives more money than another, than that is simply life. With endorsing yourself, athletes should also be able to sign endorsement deals, do public signings, and anything else that makes them money by endorsing themselves. Along with new full scholarships, these scholarships should start with a base salary as a freshmen and incentives to earn more money. Incentives in these scholarships can include winning awards, winning conference titles, winning national championships and there would also be an educational side. Athletes would have to earn a certain GPA to earn their money, and higher GPA’s will result in higher salaries. These are just many of the solutions that can be taken to help this situation. The solutions would help better their lives, work harder for their incentives, work harder in school to receive their money, and have a start on life outside the football field and basketball court.
Division 1 revenue producing athletes deserve to be paid. The NCAA along with the universities, have the money thanks to the athletes and the players deserve to have a share of the revenue. The players make the events and the money possible so there is no need to argue against the people that make our entertainment possible. Although, many people may argue against this claim including the average student or the head of the Chess Club, but they must realize they are not producing any revenue for their school and have nothing to argue against. Athletes in all sports deserve to have full scholarships, but only the revenue producing athletes deserve to be compensated for more than the usual athletic scholarship. The athletes that keep the audience roaring on the edge of their seat deserve money to help better their lives in the present and their future, and the NCAA must make radical changes in the near future.
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McMurphy, Brett. “For Longhorns, Money Grows on Football Program Instead of Trees.” Breaking News and Opinion on The Huffington Post. Huffington Post, 30 June 2010. Web. 30 Nov. 2011. .
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