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Going on my fourth year as a student-athlete playing Division 1 tennis, I have seen a good amount of changes within college athletics.
I spent my freshman year at Syracuse University. The athletic department at Syracuse has seen so many changes within the past three years, and the majority of them were bad with violations hitting the men’s basketball team hard.
But, if you had asked me during my freshman year if student-athletes deserved to be paid, I would have immediately answered “Hell Yes!”
Now, three years and a better athletic program later, I would easily say no.
The discussion of whether or not student-athletes should be treated as paid employees has been going on for years, and there are great arguments on both sides of the debate.
Yes, as student-athletes we work our butts off on and off the court. While the majority of students just worry about their 15-credit class weeks, we have an additional 20 hours of practice on top of study hall and mandatory treatment times in the training room.
Our days are very long and extremely tiring, with little to no time to actually socialize and have a somewhat normal college experience. We make a lot of sacrifices, but at the end of the day we don’t regret any of it because we get to represent our school in our sport.
I love the University of Colorado, and I love being a student-athlete even more. But even though I work my butt off day-in and day-out for my team and for my school, I’ll be the first to say that there is no reason why we should be getting paid, and here is why:
- We shouldn’t get paid because we’re already getting paid. By this I mean our full athletic scholarship covers everything: room and board, books, food, etc. If you were a student-athlete who lived off campus, you would receive a stipend check every month that you would use to pay for rent, food and other necessities. These stipend checks average around $1,300, and once they are deposited into a student-athlete’s bank account, there is no way for the money to be managed by anyone but the account holder.
- We’re amateurs, not professionals. We’re playing a sport in college for a reason: either we want to get our education and mature more in our sport or we’re not quite at the level to play professionally. Nothing is wrong with being a college athlete. But the reason why professionals get paid and we don’t is simple: they’re doing it as a career; we’re doing it because we’re representing our school and getting a degree at the same time.
- Hello, Title IX. If one sports team gets paid, then we all have to get paid. Let’s be honest, the women’s volleyball team here at CU is not bringing in the money that the football team is. At the end of the day, the teams who bring in the money should be the ones who deserve to get paid. But where are the ethics behind this? We all put in the same amount of work and we’re all playing for the same thing: a national championship. But we know that teams like football and basketball bring in the money, and the smaller women sports, such as lacrosse and tennis, don’t. Title IX has been crucial for the development of women sports in college athletics. If the NCAA decides to start paying college athletes, it could be difficult to equally pay the female athletes.
- Are we here to get a degree or a salary? Athletes decide to come to college to play our sports because it is an opportunity to get a degree that will help us in the future. College should be about academics, not about receiving a salary. If the NCAA starts paying athletes that will take the focus off of academics, ultimately damaging the sole reason why athletes come to college.
- Last time I checked, money doesn’t grow on trees…Okay NCAA, you start paying us student-athletes, but where is the money coming from? Here at CU the profit we make off of football and basketball tickets go straight into the general athletic department’s budget (which has been experiencing shortages), so where would the money that would be used to pay athletes come from? Let’s be honest, not all Division 1 athletic programs have the same budget and revenue compared to the bigger conference schools such as the SEC, ACC or Pac-12 schools. The smaller Division 1 schools would be hurt by this policy, and ultimately it would hurt recruiting. Why would an athlete decide to go to a smaller program that doesn’t pay its athletes compared to a bigger Division 1 program that does?
Like I said earlier, my freshman self would have argued that student-athletes deserve to be paid. But my freshman self was a part of a messy athletic department that had no values established for its staff or student-athletes.
Now, being a student-athlete here at the University of Colorado I have learned what it means to represent the university I play for. Athletic Director Rick George has done an amazing job in establishing core values for the staff and student-athletes here at CU, and in doing so he is teaching us what it means to be a student-athlete on the court and in the classroom.
Contact CU Independent Sports Staff Writer Alex Aiello at firstname.lastname@example.org