EH 1020 Unit IV Literature Review

Should College Athletes Get Paid to Play?

EH 1020 English Composition II

Columbia Southern University

Should College Athletes Get Paid to Play?


To get full participate in the debate of whether college athletes should receive compensation for playing sports you need to understand both sides of the conversation. There are two sides to this issue the first side (Pro side) think that the NCAA is taking advantage of student-athletes and they deserve more than a scholarship for the time and energy they devote to their sports. The second side (Con side) are of the opinion that these college players receive plenty of benefits and a free education is more than enough of a payment. Both sides of the debate use biased information and Polls most based on racial controversy to justify their sides of the argument. The pro side is being represented by the argument made by Frank Deford from an episode of the “Morning Edition” on April 2, 2014 where he argues that paying college athletes will level the playing field (“Paying College Athletes”, 2014). On the opposite side of the argument similar tactics are used. In an article posted by CCN Wire, NCAA President Mark Emmert points out that paying student athletes will have an effect on how current traditions would be tarnished and lost (“Paying college athletes would hurt traditions”, 2014). This debate has become a hot topic in today’s society. The controversy of this topic comes down to three things, should the NCAA, A) continue with the current system that is in place, B) find a way to pay student athletes to play, or C) come up with an alternate way to both keep from paying the athletes but also reward them for the time they are required to put into their sports. Paying student-athletes to play sports is a highly debatable topic and will continue to gain in popularity until it is taken seriously. The NCAA and universities benefit greatly from the current system that is in place at a minimum a review should be conducted to see if there is a way to also benefit the players as well.

The Literature Review

To gain an understanding of this debate you need to look at multiple articles, polls and arguments from both sides. The NCAA brings in plenty of revenue from college sports and the deals made from college sports, this partly fuels the debate of whether student athletes should receive a portion of this money. This review will look at both sides of the controversy and go into the reasons for their arguments. This paper will also look at a few ideas that have been presented as a solution to this issue.

Why is Pay For Play even a Topic Being Discussed?

To get an idea of why this is even a topic of discussion one only needs to look at the driving force behind most issues in American society today, money. In 2014 the NCAA made nearly $1 Billion in revenue (Berkowitz, 2015). Now although $1 Billion is a lot of money the NCAA had $908 million in expenses (Berkowitz, 2015). This sounds like a lot of money coming and going and in reality, it is that is why this is a major discussion. There is also the question of are these student athletes being taken advantage of for the benefit of their abilities? In the article NCAA Division, I athletics: amateurism and exploitation, it is topic is discussed at length. Amateurism is being defined as athletes not being paid for their athletic services and exploitation is being defined as an individual gaining something by taking advantage of another (Miller, 2011). It comes down to three sides in the end, the first side is the Pro side of the argument, the second side is the Con side and the third and last side is the group that is both pro and con. We will start with the pro side and move on from there.

College Athletes Should be Paid

Most polls and surveys out on this subject focus on the racial breakdown and show that there is a divide between black and white Americans on the subject. One survey from 2014, the Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES), showed that 53 percent of African-Americans backed paying college athletes. This more than doubled the support expressed by whites (22 percent) (Wallsten, Nteta, & McCarthy, 2015). Another poll that is more current by Post-UMass Lowell conducted between August 14-21 2017 among a random national sample of 1,000 adults found that 54 percent of black Americans support paying college athletes (Hobson & Guskin, 2017). Now both of this survey and poll show a racial divide as part of the reason for the discussion but both also reference the reason there is a divide is due to the money being made by the NCAA. Frank Deford uses an example of the NCAA and colleges conferences from the 2014 College Football Championship making a sum of $23.6 million each and only paying the game officials a measly $2100. He argues that paying these student athletes would even the field of play (Deford: Paying College Athletes Would Level the Playing Field, 2014).

College Athletes are Paid with an Education

The con side of this controversy is that student-athletes are receiving an education that can be valued between $20,000 – $100,000 depending on the university that they attend. One argument from Daniel Cotter is “a basketball scholarship for male players is worth $120,000 per year. The value of what the schools already provide is significant” (Stipends, not salary, fair for college athletes, 2011). In the same article Chuck Cabrera states that “college sports are incredibly huge money makers for the big-name schools. Regrettably, this minimizes the real purpose of colleges, which is education” (Stipends, not salary, fair for college athletes, 2011). NCAA President Mark Emmert takes a different view of the argument stating that paying student-athletes would hurt the traditions at the university level, he backs this up by saying if college athletes were to start getting paid many schools would have to leave Division I sports and the schools that did stay would have to start cutting less popular sports to be able to pay those salaries (Paying college athletes…,2014). While these are all very good arguments are they in the best interest of the student or the current system?

Examples that Could Fix the Issue

There have been several examples put out that are presented as good ideas that would fix the issue of paying student athletes, but would any of them really work? There were four such proposals put forth by Dr. Dennis Johnson in 2012, they were the Big Ten Plan were the students would receive $2,000-$3,000 cost of living increase added to their full scholarships, the SEC game pay proposal were the SEC would pay players $300-$100 per game depending playing time, the Professional League proposal were colleges hire player ages 23 and below as college staff with moderate salaries plus room and board, the Revenue Sharing proposal were college coaches would be required to 25-50% of their bonuses with the players (Johnson, & Acquaviva, 2012). There is one idea from an economist Andy Schwarz that a free market would help reallocate monies flowing into larger raises for coaches and facilities into players pockets. A comment from fellow economist Andrew Zimbalist states that If they’re students and amateurs, then it doesn’t make sense, ethically, to pay the coaches millions and millions,”. Zimbalist has a proposal that would allow athletes to earn extra money through sponsorship agreements and the sale of merchandise. “This would tend to promote more competitive balance across the schools, which, presumably, is a good thing . . . and it would save tens of millions for schools in their budgets”(Hobson & Guskin, 2017). For either of these ideas to come to into place it would require a court ruling or legislation.

Tentative Thesis Statement

Paying student-athletes to play sports is a highly debatable topic and will continue to gain in popularity until it is taken seriously. The NCAA and universities benefit greatly from the current system that is in place at a minimum a review should be conducted to see if there is a way to also benefit the players.

Place an Order

Plagiarism Free!

Scroll to Top