“Student Athletes Should be Paid as University Employees.” Debunking the Most Common Arguments as to Why

In an article for Forbes.com, by Marc Edelman, an associate Professor of Law at the Zicklin School of Business, he lists 21 reasons that he believes support the argument of paying college athletes as university employees. The sum of the article generally amounts to theme that student athletes are treated more like employees as opposed to students, and that the NCAA rakes in huge profits because of these athletes, but does not distribute them fairly. However, I maintain that not only would treating student athletes as employees have serious repercussions, but that athletes actually receive more than enough compensation from universities. Allow me to refute a few of the arguments that Edelman highlighted in his article.

  1. “The typical Division I college football player devotes 43.3 hours per week to his sport — 3.3 more hours than the typical American work week.”
    • 80% of college students need to hold a job while going to school (this often must contribute to their tuition/housing, which athletes don’t have to worry about) and on average this requires at least 20hours per week, in addition to approximately 45hours in class/studying.
  2. Although the NCAA claims college athletes are just students, the NCAA’s own tournament schedules require college athletes to miss classes for nationally televised games that bring in revenue.
    • Teachers are almost always required to accommodate student athletes and their schedules. In addition, students in the debate club also have to miss classes for tournaments! Should they be compensated too? Most would say know, since they chose to pick up that extra-curricular, and they will most likely be benefitting from it in the long run.
  3. Much of the huge revenues collected from college athletics do not go directly back into the classroom. Instead, a substantial share of college sports’ revenues stay ”in the hands of a select few administrators, athletic directors, and coaches.”
    • Coaches and administrators are NOT students. Thereby, of course they are considered employees by law and must be compensated as such. The majority of  the revenue from college athletics is cycled back into college athletics, in a way its somewhat of a self-sustaining system. Funding for the “classroom” is often from aggregated from tuition fees and grants. That being said, there is a plethora of ways as to how individual universities divvy up their funding, and who is to say which way is correct?
  4. At other schools, college coaches regulate student-athlete speech on Facebook and Twitter — even when their sport is not in session.
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