The University of Iowa University of Iowa

Pay-for-Play: So Many Questions, Not Enough Answers

College athletes should not be paid.

The debate is irrationally polarizing amongst fans, players, and universities across the nation. It is not the problems that we don’t agree on; it’s the solutions.

The competitive nature of recruiting is mostly due to the fact that it is believed to be the key to winning. However, pay-for-play recruiting scandals have riddled college athletics for several decades now.

Universities also are not adequately supporting many athletes that are in financial need.

However, advocates of ‘pay-for-play college athletics’ believe that simply paying players will solve those issues.

It is not that simple.

The stakes for recruiting are very high. Coaches, schools, and boosters already step outside the rules to attain coveted athletes. The pursuit of these athletes would only intensify by paying them a salary.

The integrity of college athletics would dwindle.

Harder recruiting of players would in turn lead to a larger gap in competition. With smaller schools not having enough funding to land the blue-chip recruits, the competitive gap between the top and bottom teams would only widen.

Not only would paying athletes ruin college sports on a competitive level, but it would also hurt one of college sports unique draws.

The spirit of college athletics, compared to professional sports, is often attributed to the non-greed motives. This is a contributing reason that people find sports to be at their purest on the college level.

Many college sports, especially football and basketball, have athletes who are in financial need. Much can be done to rectify this problem other than paying college athletes. Amplifying support in scholarships, and other opportunities such as federal Pell Grants for students could equal proposed salaries for athletes.

Sure, paying college athletes would be nice. But where is the plan of action? The questions are bountiful; the solutions however, are sparse.

Which athletes would get paid?

With what money would the athletes be paid?

How much should they get paid?

Should everyone be paid equal?

Only 22 universities in Division-I operate revenue generating programs. With such a small number of schools being able to spend a little extra then they need to survive, how would these athletic programs be able to pay all their athletes? The revenue from most schools would not be enough to pay the salaries that many have proposed.

It wouldn’t seem fair that the second-string goalie on field hockey, a non-revenue generating sport, would get paid as much as the starting quarterback on the football team, a major revenue generating sport.

This brings up the issue of who gets paid, and how much. Should all the athletes from the bottom to the top of a roster get paid the same amount? Some athletes play and contribute more on the field than others do.

Should every sport pay the same amount?

If the revenue generating sports athletes only got paid, it wouldn’t be fair to the other athletes though. Non-revenue generating athletes have to balance their training and class just as much as football and basketball players do. But then again, the revenue generating sports are the only reason that there is money being made.

An important point that is often overlooked is the fact that revenue-generating sports support the other teams. The millions of dollars that football and basketball generate each year contribute to the funds that sports like softball, soccer and swimming need to stay a float.

So if you paid the athletes from the revenue they generated, what would happen to all the smaller sports?

Some of the revenue goes to the academic departments in the universities. It doesn’t make sense that the football team, which is part of the school, would keep all the money it makes and not better the school.

Not all, but many college-athletes have athletic scholarships. Many of these scholarships pay for an entire degree, which is priceless to a career. A scholarship can also pay for food, housing and stipends.

College athletes chose to play a college sport, they had an option. If they don’t want to play because they are not getting paid for it, they don’t have to.

If their only option of getting an education is by way of an athletic scholarship, they should be blessed that they have a talent that can support their way through school.

Four years as an out-of-state student attending the University of Iowa would cost over $100,000. However, if a person were so lucky to have received an athletic scholarship from the university, all they would have to do is play a sport for four years to get a degree at a respected university.

Supporters of the pay-for-play mantra don’t seem to have answers. Paying players a salary isn’t easy and there doesn’t seem to be a clear solution.

So, if playing a sport for four years, and receiving an education with boundless limits isn’t enough? Then show me what is.

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