I am a former student-athlete. I come from a middle class family with a father who was a registered nurse and a mom who stayed home and managed the house. We did not have tons of money or a big house, but we had everything we needed. I learned from the best (my mom) how to stretch a dollar. I still go directly to the sale rack and have even started shopping mostly at consignment stores. But I digress. In college I saved my per diem for gas money. I ate at a training table with other student-athletes. I had a roof over my head and tutors to help with my classes. No, I wasn’t a big-time football or men’s basketball player, or even an all-American, but I played basketball in one of the most competitive women's basketball conferences and we were a darn good team. We got our fair amount of press and TV time.
I was happy that I could help out my parents, who had already paid for one of my brothers to go to college (I think the deal was they paid half). I graduated in four years (plus one quarter) with a marketing degree.
I recently read an article about a football player from the University of Oregon who is complaining because he couldn’t host a party with a cover charge. He ranted on Twitter on how unfair that is because the NCAA makes millions from student-athletes and how he lost $1,500 from planning the party that he had to cancel.
First of all, yes, the NCAA does make money. Most of that money pays for per diem and travel for teams that participate in its 89 championships.
Second, student-athletes from Divisions I and II institutions get their education paid for (Division III does not provide athletic scholarships but do have academic scholarships). In reality, not all get a full ride, but they do get assistance. That is worth its weight in gold. I always wonder about those high-profile football and basketball players who complain about not getting paid. If they did not excel at their sport, would they have gone to college at all? If they come from such a poor background as they say, I would guess not. Where would they end up? They are currently getting all or some of the education paid for. They are playing a sport they enjoy. Some are gods at their school. And hopefully they are taking advantage of their time at college to earn a degree. Some (a small percentage) will go on to the pros.
Yes, there is talk about injury. What happens if they are injured in college and then don’t make it in the pros? Do they get nothing for their work as a student-athlete? No. They get an education. They could get injured in the pros after making tons of money and they still have to figure out what to do with their life and how to sustain their lifestyle. That’s where that education comes in.
Third, this guy is ranting about how he has no money, yet he spent $1,500 on a party. Not food or gas. A party. Where did that money come from?
If they are so upset about not getting paid, they can always go overseas for the allotted amount of time and then enter themselves in the drafts. No one is forcing them to play in college.
Last, most athletics departments do not turn a profit. So do some student-athletes get paid while other do not? Do you only pay the football and men’s basketball players? They are not the only ones bringing in money.
Who knows what will happen down the road, but I will stand firm in my belief that the student-athletes are students first and athletes second. And they are already getting paid.