In a game vs Oregon State, record-setting California runningback Jahvid best would suffer his second concussion in the past two weeks on an out of control dive into the endzone. It would leave him unconscious and he would have to be rushed out on a stretcher. Concussions would eventually put an end to his extremely promising career. This brings up the question: did Jahvid Best deserve compensation for putting his personal safety on the line for our entertainment? I believe so.
I believe that college athletes deserve to be paid because there are major health risks and a tremendous amount of work that comes with playing a sport at such a high level. All the while, they are being taken advantage of by large programs and companies that make an abundance of money off of their work.
The first reason that college athletes should be paid is the health risks that are associated with playing sports. Injuries are very common, especially in contact sports. Athletes need to push their bodies to the limit all day every day and some are pushed too far. From 2000-2016 there were 85 sports-related deaths with college athletes. Playing sports is undeniably dangerous and serious injuries happen often. One study shows that the likelihood of a contact sport athlete experiencing a concussion is as high as 20% each season. The risk of playing sports is higher than ever now with COVID spreading easily through contact sports.
Secondly, college athletes work incredibly hard. According to a lawsuit filed by the University of North Carolina, division 1 athletes claim to practice over 40 hours a week in many sports. Most notably baseball players claimed an average of 42.1 hours of practice per week. That is as much as a full-time job. Being a college athlete is exhausting. If there are any athletes here, I bet that you are burnt out by 5 or so 2 hour-long practices a week let alone 40 combined hours of practice.
A point often brought up regarding the payment of college athletes is that they are given a quality education in exchange for their work. The truth is; College athletes have to work so hard that they are denied the proper education that the university originally promised. Many athletes are given useless “paper” classes that only exist to keep their GPA swimming above the minimum.
Thirdly, college athletes are being taken advantage of by large programs and companies. The scholarships that students receive cover the expense of attending the school, but in most situations, they do not cover other expenses of being a student. Many college athletes come from poor backgrounds, so they cannot afford to support themselves, and regulations prevent them from getting jobs during the season. Only around 2% of division 1 athletes go pro and others accumulate dept after their college career with little gained education all while programs and companies make exuberant amounts of money. Division 1 college football programs generate an average of 32 million in revenue each, every year. Broadcasting companies make combined billions off of the games each year while the players make none of it.
Another counter-argument that is against paying college athletes is that it may lead to corruption. Many argue schools may give more money than they should to get the best players. The thing is: it may actually be the opposite. In 2016, Leremy Tunsil was the top lineman in the nation and was revealed to be involved in a major recruiting scandal with the Ole Miss football program. A 2018 documentary named “Foul Play” uncovered several instances of foul play regarding paying athletes. College sports programs are always trying to get a leg up on rival schools, and they have always been illegally paying players for years. Paying players wouldn’t increase corruption. It would likely decrease it. In the documentary, the players that illegally received compensation needed it. Remember: these are college students. The money they get isn’t being used to buy sports cars. It’s to turn on their lights.
Being a high-level athlete is a job, and it’s a very hard one that comes with many health risks. The only reason they aren’t paid is that the people that make money off them don’t want them to be. Paying athletes is actually very realistic. There is enough money generated from sports for athletes to at least get modest compensation. So with all that, why shouldn’t they be paid?