I want to start by apologizing that this article isn’t directly about WKU sports, but it’s something that has been bothering me the past few weeks. I’ve read so many others views and opinions on the topic and I wanted to share mine. Also, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. I can’t speak for the rest of the Topper Talk crew and their views on the subject.
Recently one of the biggest topics filling up my news feed has been the NCAA and all of the current shenanigans surrounding it. There are numerous arguments firing from all angles at the NCAA but basically they all end up at the same solution, it is time for college athletes to be paid. Now before I go into further detail as to why, I want you to know that in my opinion the thought of paying college athletes is ridiculous. So preposterous in fact, that I would rank it somewhere between separate toe shoes and the mullet on my overall scale of ridiculousness. That’s my view on the subject, and if you don’t like it, now would probably be a good time to go back to reading Jay Bilas articles and getting fired up for a revolution against the NCAA.
College athletics generate millions of dollars every year for universities across the country in various ways ranging from ticket sales to athletic apparel. Many believe that if a jersey is sold with a certain player’s number on it that it is not fair for that player to not make money from it. To me, schools making money off of a jersey sale is no different than them making money from ticket sales. Let’s compare the two scenarios. It’s obvious that jersey sales increase when you have a star player and put that player’s number on the jersey, I will give you that. But is it not also true that when your team is performing better ticket sales increase? More often than not your team is better when you have a star player to lead the way. So therefore, isn’t that player increasing your ticket sales? I mean how many more locals jumped on the A&M bandwagon to come watch Johnny Football work his magic. Because of a player like Manziel not only do A&M jersey sales increase, so do ticket sales. So if you’re going to pay players for their jersey being sold, should they also be paid when the average attendance at games increases? If making money off jersey sales is unethical should schools stop profiting from ticket sales? Should fans be granted free admission to sporting events? Maybe offering plates should be passed around between quarters and from now on donations become the only source of revenue.
As a fan of EA Sports video games I am sad to see the game come to an end because folks feel that players should be paid because the game uses their “likeness” for profit. I want you to use your imagination for a second and let’s have a little hypothetical scenario. It’s midnight and NCAA 14 just hit the shelves at the local Wal-Mart. Jadeveon Clowney is stoked to go pick up a copy and play with his boys the rest of the night. He gets back, throws in the game and naturally picks South Carolina. I mean he’s not going to not pick South Caronlina, am I right? First defensive series he switches control to number 7, and it is a short and fat white guy. The skill level, jersey number, position and everything else is spot on, but there is no resemblance as far a physical features go. Do you think Clowney would not be furious about this? I would wager that a player would be more upset with being left out of a game than not being paid for a cartoon character that resembles him? Be for real, college players get just as much joy out of playing as themselves on a video game as the 5 year old who loves playing season after season as his favorite team. Most kids dream about the day when they can pop in a video game and play as themselves on it. Why do you think “create a player” is such a popular thing among athletically challenged individuals such as myself?
The most reoccurring argument I’ve read is that it’s not fair for athletes to not get paid because regular college students can receive scholarships but still work a job on the side to make money. Therefore, college athletes should make money for all the time they put into their respective sport because it is essentially a full time job. As a poor college student who worked a part time job on campus during my time there, my first response to that argument is a loud and lengthy laugh. Once I get that out of the way, I’ll break it down for you from my perspective. Students who work part time jobs in college do so to afford their living expenses. Sure they may have a scholarship, but most scholarships don’t cover all expenses. Usually just tuition or maybe tuition and book costs are covered. College athletes not only have their education expenses covered, they also don’t face the same living expenses that your college student faces. Their meals are covered, room and board provided, and every other basic necessity is handed to them. As if all that isn’t enough, let’s not forget about all the extras they receive. Athletes are given thousands upon thousands of dollars worth of university apparel. Sure some of it is necessary for the sport they play, such as practice clothes and uniforms, but they are also provided with numerous t-shirts, shorts, sweatshirts, back packs, and other items all decked out with the school logo. “Regular” college students would have to take out a loan to buy that much school merchandise. Do you know how much a regular student would have to pay to have a personal tutor at their disposal whenever they desired? How much would an average college kid have to fork over to have a gym membership at a facility that offers not only top of the line equipment but also personal trainers? Fact is, college athletes are already paid, and more than enough if you ask me. Maybe it isn’t in the form of a check directly written to them, but they are already given plenty.
The biggest question I have about this whole topic is if you do allow players to be paid, where do you draw the line? Do they just get paid a percentage from jersey sales, autograph sales, and things of that nature, or do they actually get paid by the school to come and play there. If the school can pay them, is there a cap set? For example, are you only allowed to spend a million dollars a season to fill your team’s roster? You better get some practice in with those Fantasy Football auction style drafts or you will blow all your money on 2 players. If you want that $250,000 running back ranked as the top player in the nation you’d better be prepared to settle for a $5,000 tight end to make ends meet. What If no cap is set? Well then you might as well tell every other school, that isn’t named Alabama, Texas, etc. to buzz off because they will never have the same size budget to compete with those schools. It will become a bidding war and the only way to give smaller schools a chance would be to hold a draft every year. I don’t know, maybe that’s the solution. The NCAA should just set up a system where a draft happens every year, worst team gets first pick from the high school pool and then it will gradually work its way to last year’s champion who gets last pick. Players and picks can be traded and shopped around for cash and schools can compete for free agents. Let’s just turn the NCAA into the minor leagues, and let the NFL and NBA be the majors. Of course this will only work for a few years until high school athletes think they should profit from the many hours they dedicate to sports and then we will have another melt down and the High School Athletics Association will be totally dismantled. This whole paying players argument started with a few self centered and greedy college athletes wanting more from the system instead of just being satisfied with what they’re already blessed to have and that’s exactly where it should end as well. Let’s get real; the reason college sports are fun for fans to watch is because the athletes play the game for pride, not a paycheck. They picked the school based on program history, tradition, and the chance to play for a top notch coach, not the dollar amount written on their contract. Take that away, and you might as well get rid of college sports and just have professional sports after high school.