With reports recently surfacing that several collegiate athletes may have received money for their autographs over the course of the last year or so, prominent journalists and figures in the world of sports are again posing the age-old question; should college players be paid?
|Photo from: espn.go.com
Many argue that they should because college sports generate a tremendous amount of revenue for the schools, and it's only fair that the players should receive some of that money. However, others argue that many of these athletes get paid in the form of scholarships, and are also given the opportunity to better their chances of going pro in their respective sport.
The biggest argument against paying college athletes is how would the system work? Would it be the individual negotiating with the school, or would it be a set amount for everyone? Also, would male athletes receive more than female athletes?
"The athletes are already paid. It's called a scholarship," says Bill Plaschke, sportswriter for the L.A. Times. "In some cases, that's a salary of more than $50,000 a year."
ESPN commentator Michael Wilbon suggests that athletes should be allowed to endorse products and receive compensation for memorabilia and autographs. He believes it would be a "good marketing lesson."
"If somebody is willing to give a big name player $750 or $1,000 or even $2,500 for his jersey, fine. If one of his teammates, a lesser-known player, can only fetch $50 for his, it will be a good marketing lesson for both of them. It's called supply and demand, and if both men are fortunate enough to reach the NFL it will be a lesson worth learning, because that dynamic will exist their entire careers. If a soccer player can't get anything for his jersey or autograph, well, there's a realization in that, too."
Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon is strongly against paying college athletes in any capacity: "If you start paying college players as if they were employees, you're going to be 1099ing these individuals, bringing in accountants and lawyers to work through tax issues, which leads to contract negotiations and probably even a union. It's just absurd."
Be it player, coach, AD or sportswriter, people have valid arguments for both sides. However, the time where a college athlete collects a check for putting on his or her school's jersey still seems a long way away.
But at the end of the day, the question remains. Paying college athletes; a viable possibility, or far-fetched idea?