Should student athletes be paid? This has been a topic of heated discussion for several years now. College athletes get awarded scholarships by their colleges. But is that enough? Should they be paid too?
Sports bring in a lot of revenue for colleges; that is why colleges give importance to colleges. Some argue that college athletes break their back practicing long hours, sacrificing their time, social life, etc., to bring in the revenue, so not paying them is unfair. And some argue that the3 scholarship is enough for them. Who is right, and who is wrong? To understand this, we need to have a basic understanding of Canadian athletic scholarships.
Athletic Scholarships in Canada
If you get a full-ride scholarship in Canada, your tuition fees, as well as anything billed by the college, such as for books, shall be covered by the scholarship. But your rent and other living expenses will have to be taken care of by yourself. The value of partial scholarships (any amount less than a “full-ride”) can range from less than $1,000 to the full price of tuition and other necessary university costs.
An important point to note is that this is the guideline set by the Canadian system, and each province and each institution can issue stricter guidelines.
In Canada, scholarships are entirely dependent on funding, which each university receives in a different method. A portion of the money for scholarships may come from alumni donations, benefactors who may award scholarships at their discretion, or some colleges may support scholarships out of their operating budgets.
Now that we have a fair understanding of athletic scholarships in Canada let us look at why colleges should pay athletes and if the fact they get scholarships is a reason to deny them pay.
Reasons Why Colleges Should Pay Athletes
Encourages Student Athletes
More skilled and talented students will be encouraged to play for their schools if student-athletes are paid for their sacrifices and hard work.
They Bring in Revenue for their Colleges
College athletes bring in revenue for their respective schools. So it is only fair for them to be given a portion of the money they bring in through their hard work. It seems like everyone except the students who spend a lot of time training makes money. This doesn’t seem fair. It can be said that college athletes are being exploited.
They Provide Exposure to the Schools
Some college athletes become household names during tournaments, and they provide exposure to their respective colleges. This exposure boosts applications and donations. This is known as the Flutie Effect, named after Doug Flutie, the quarterback of Boston College, who made his college popular and boosted its application with his Hail Mary pass against the University of Miami and his Heisman-winning season.
Considerable Amount of Time is Taken Away from Studies
Sports takes away from the student athletes’ study time. They spend a lot of time undergoing gruelling training. And keeping up with academics during the playing season is very tough. And they should keep up a certain grade to be eligible to get the athletic scholarship. That’s a hard job to do considering their gruelling long practice hours. Shouldn’t they be fairly compensated for their time?
Scholarships Not Salaries
A common argument used to discredit the need for colleges to pay student-athletes is that they receive scholarships. But even if student-athletes get a full scholarship, it only covers the tuition fees and anything billed by the college. So what about their living expenses? They will have to work to cover their other expenses. But they spend a lot of time grinding away for the upcoming tournaments, so balancing work, practice, and academics is tough. It is nearly impossible. So, where will they get the money to spend on incidentals and entertainment?
High Chance of Injury, so Compensation is a Must
Athletes are at constant risk of injury. If a student-athlete is seriously injured, he might lose his scholarship. He might not even be able to play anymore and lose out on his dream of playing professionally, for which he has been working the majority of his life.
Sometimes, they might also suffer disability for life if the injury is very serious. So student-athletes should be compensated for risking their health constantly. And it’s not like they are risking it all only for their own benefit. The colleges also benefit from this, as mentioned earlier.
Now that we have looked at some of the reasons why colleges should pay athletes, let us check out the arguments used by those who oppose this idea to look at this topic from two perspectives.
Why Colleges Should Not Pay Athletes
They Receive Scholarships
Most people who are against the idea of paying college athletes argue that they receive scholarships which is enough. But as we had seen earlier, the scholarship covers only the tuition fees and some other mandatory fees.
Figuring Out the Salaries Might be Messy
Should all athletes be paid? How much should each athlete be paid? Figuring out all this is messy and might affect the team morale.
Athletes Will Lose Their Love for the Game
Some argue that athletes will lose their love for the game and play only for money. And college athletes are students, and their focus should be on their studies, and sports should be secondary, which they should play for their love for the sport.
Which is the most commonly used argument against paying student-athletes?
One of the most commonly used arguments against paying college athletes is that they already receive scholarships, so they don’t need extra money. But even if they receive a full scholarship, it only covers their tuition fees and other mandatory college fees. It doesn’t cover their living expenses. Some other arguments used against paying student-athletes are that they will lose their love for the game and that determining how much an athlete should be paid might be really tough and messy. But these arguments are weak when compared to the solid arguments in favour of paying student-athletes.
Does the scholarship cover the living expenses of the athletes?
Student-athletes either get a partial or a full scholarship. The tuition fees of athletes who get partial scholarships will have to pay a part of their tuition fees. The ones who get full scholarships don’t have to worry about the tuition fees and other mandatory fees. But neither partial scholarship nor full scholarship covers the living expenses of student-athletes. So they have to rely on either their parents or earn money by doing a part-time job to cover their rent and other expenses. But long hours of practice don’t leave much time for them to do a part-time job, and they also need to concentrate on their studies and get good grades to not lose their scholarship.