Should College Athletes Get Paid?

Credit: Public Domain

Credit: Public Domain

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College athletes make tons of money for their schools from television and ticket sales, but the players themselves don’t make a penny. It’s a perennially controversial topic that’s got staunch defenders on both sides.

According to a recent ESPN article, the NCAA took in $1.06 billion during the 2016-2017 school year. None of the players, in any of these games, in any sport, see any of this money.

Science teacher Matt Porter played football at Trinity College and now coaches Varsity Football at Williston. He believes college athletes deserve compensation.

“I believe they should [get paid] because of the value they bring to their institutions,” said Porter. “Their likeness and image is constantly used to bring in money for their schools, it is only fair to give them a piece of those profits.”

Porter suggested that “priority be given to the players who are on scholarship whose families aren’t well off financially.”

Football and basketball programs at top-tier Division I universities and colleges, such as Clemson football and Duke basketball, heavily rely on their athletic programs for revenue.

Michael Wilbon, a commentator for ESPN, thinks it would be unfair, however, if athletes from only the highest-grossing, most high profile sports were to get paid.

“That’s right, football and men’s basketball players get paid; lacrosse, field hockey, softball, baseball, soccer players get nothing. You know what that’s called? Capitalism.”

If college athletes were going to get paid, Wilbon contends, then, to be fair, every single player would need to as well.

NCAA president Mike Emmert agrees with Wilbon.

“Rather than pushing college athletics further and further from academics, we need to bring it closer,” Emmert said. A gap, he says, shouldn’t exist between paid college athletes and all other students.

Porter thinks that college athletes will never get paid “because the system has been in place for a very long time and they have been able to protect themselves through the many loopholes they have created. If players are paid that takes money out of their pocket, which the NCAA won’t allow.”

English teacher Jacob Rivers, who played football at Trinity with Porter, does not think the rules will ever change. “Unfortunately I do not see a realistic way for it to work,” Rivers said. “Unless you completely opened the market to boosters and sponsorship, but I don’t think that would be a good idea.”

Paying these athletes would certainly change the face of college sports, but some, like 2018 Williston graduate Noah Clack, think the athletes are owed it for all the revenue and attention they generate. Clack currently plays outside linebacker for the Bowdoin Polar Bears.

“I don’t know how much revenue my team brings in, but [players at] big Division I schools like Ohio State or that level, they’re getting NFL-level publicity, they’re already celebrities.” Clack said that even for a Division III program, playing a college sport “is really a job.”

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