Don’t pay college athletes

Bernie Rogers ’21

For years, the question, “Should college athletes be paid?” has stood at the forefront of many heated debates. Many coaches, analysts, and student athletes have advocated for college athletes to receive salaries. But the answer is plain and simple–college athletes should not be paid.

When athletes receive scholarship offers to play Division-I sports, their benefits are typically generous. For four years, these athletes have access to free education, free books, free meals, free room and board, free transportation, and other unique perks. According to CNN Money, on average, it will cost a student who attends a public college, $56,840 over four years, and it will cost a student attending a private college, $104,400 over four years. It will cost some scholarship athletes $0 over four years.

Zion Williamson soars in for the dunk while playing for Duke University in 2019. – via Wikimedia Commons

College sports are imbued with passion and energy, because the players are playing for each other rather than a paycheck. If these athletes were to be paid, the level of play, commitment, and entertainment of these sports would drastically decrease. The intense competition of the college level separates it from the professional level and draws attention from American viewers. For example, according to Statista, the 2019 NCAA basketball tournament averaged 10.5 million viewers throughout the whole tournament. On the other hand, according to the Sports Business Journal, the 2019 NBA Playoffs averaged 3.95 million viewers per game. There is a clear admiration for college sports in America, and paying college athletes could completely alter that. 

Another issue with college athletes getting paid is tight budgets. Some schools do not have large enough budgets to sustain the paying of athletes. This could result in less popular sports being cut from programs, which would not be fair to athletes who have worked just as hard as others. Recruiting would simply become a bidding war, and the talent gap between the larger and smaller schools would become even bigger. 

Division-I athletes are already amongst some of the most privileged people in the country, so why do they need to be paid?

“A recent N.C.A.A. study determined that only about 20 of the 1,000 or so college sports programs in the nation were profitable,” said Cody McDavis, a New York Times writer and former Division-I basketball player. “Millions of student-athletes devote their sweat, blood and tears to sports. Some play football and basketball; others swim, run cross-country, play soccer or compete as gymnasts. Only a fraction of them generate money for their schools. We must ensure that the N.C.A.A. is able to preserve its commitment to all of them,” McDavis said. There is a glaring pay gap between different schools, sports, and even between male and female sports, and this would create even more problems for the NCAA. 

Division-I athletes are already amongst some of the most privileged people in the country, so why do they need to be paid?

Author: Bernie Rogers '21

Bernie Rogers ‘21 is a student in the journalism seminar. Rogers has an interest in sports and music journalism, along with a passion for hearing opinions from all viewpoints. He is also a member of the varsity basketball and soccer teams at Haverford.