Who Wins: The Athlete or The School?

In an article titled “A Way to Start Playing College Athletes,” Joe Nocera proposed his own unique ideas to pay athletes. His first idea involves a salary cap with a minimum salary of $25,000 dollars per player. As he states previously in his article, less than 24 out of the 350 Division I athletic departments make money because of the expenses they incur. If he is aware of these statistics, where does the $25,000 per player come from? Yes, the coaches of many successful football teams make millions each season, however it is unlikely that an athletic department will dip into these salaries to begin paying the players.

Nocera continues on to state that these salaries “would obviously not make the athletes rich, but it would give them enough to live like typical college students.” The idea that $25,000 a year for each player is living like a “typical college student” is illogical. According to The Wall Street Journal, on average, students need about $1,000-$2,000 dollars worth of spending money each year. Not only is Nocera arguing that an athlete receiving scholarships, merchandise, and a plethora of other perks is not enough, but on top of that he is arguing that an extra $23,000 dollars is necessary. The common argument is that athletes do not have time to work, however an average full-time employee makes about $13,926.38 a year, according to The Huffington Post. Therefore, athletes under this proposed plan would make $12,000 more than an average full time employee.

As a supposed benefit, Nocera mentions that star players could be persuaded to attend a university solely through money. Is this what loving a sport looks like? Is this what getting the best education looks like? To me, this looks like a scheme, which involves spending money to make more money for the school. Instead, student athletes should be recruited by the services the school offers, the athletic department’s employees and qualifications, and most importantly, the education that a school offers. Yes, this would eliminate the issue of under the table bribing and corruption, but it makes the league become revenue-driven and not as authentic.

Lastly, Nocera argues the most ludicrous idea yet, which is that athletes should be allowed eight years to finish their four-year degrees. Although they would only remain eligible for 4, athletes would have this extra time to finish their degree- and for free! I think the idea that these student-athletes are students first is lost among these plans. Just because these students play a sport does not mean that their education should be put off for an additional four years. Upon being recruited to play a sport in college, athletes are fully aware of the commitment. To say it “is only fair” that this plan is followed through is insulting to the athletes that are capable of succeeding while playing sports, and the students that actually work full-time to afford their educations and still graduate on time.

His ideas are far fetched and do not benefit students or put their best interest first. Student-athletes should be students first, take responsibility for their educations, and play the sport they love for that sole reason.

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