Cameron Soltis: Should college athletes be paid?

UntitledIt’s that time of year again. College football just wrapped up its season with the Alabama Crimson Tide winning its fourth national championship in the last 7 years, making them one of the best teams in the history of college football.

This begs the question of whether college athletes should be paid. Educators and many average college students renounce this idea, saying that collegiate activities are a privilege and not a job. Although the main goal of college is to achieve a higher education and create a bright future, one cannot dismiss the fact that collegiate athletes play a larger role in the university community, consisting of a larger work load, having less time to complete that work load, and also being in the spotlight as opposed to the average college student.

Many college athletes believe that they do more for the university than the average college student. And many college athletes say they do not have the same luxury of time as the average college student.

Paul Daughtery, columnist for SI.com, and a former professor, has said how, being he feels little sympathy for college athletes when it comes to time management. Daughtery believes there are plenty of students who work two or three part-time jobs, and still find the time to come to class and complete the work required.

“I think about these kids now, whenever the siren sounds for college athletes to be paid,” Daughtery said. “What about my students? What does it say to them? These were not people who asked to be paid to attend college. These were folks who paid for the privilege. And let’s be clear: College is a privilege. It is earned, not bestowed.”

Daughtery also says college athletes already have advantages and should not have the luxury of being paid, as they are “flying to away games, often in chartered jets, and staying in first-class hotels.”

Joe Nocera, a columnist for the New York Times, is on the other side of the debate. He writes that a large amount of time for a college athlete goes into his or her respective sport, an average of 50 hours a week.

Many critics neglect to mention that college athlete does not have the luxury of  the same college experience as the average student. I am a college athlete. I understand how long and exhausting days can be — trying to finish homework, getting to class on time, waking up early for two hours of grueling practices and finally having the energy to play in sometimes three games a week.

College athletes play on national TV, in crowded stadiums, under immense pressure to preform at the highest level. Yes, every college student is under pressure to do well and get good grades but they do not have to step on a field with 25,000 fans screaming and a whole nation watching. This publicity is a blessing for a college athlete but can also be a burden, knowing that one bad play can be seen by the whole world.

College athletes have to balance sports and studies, which is no easy task. Their time is limited. They risk the chance of injury everyday. They generate money for their schools. They virtually have no social life. Finally they must represent their school with class and undergo media scrutiny. Taking all these things into account, one cannot deny the fact that this indeed is a full-time job.

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