Should College Athletes Be Paid or Not?

Whether or not college athletes should be paid is a topic that has long been discussed.

There have been countless arguments that college athletes essentially have a job at their school and should be paid for their time and services.

“I would definitely love to get paid for basketball,” said UNO junior forward for the men’s basketball team, Eddie Denard.  “I feel like we should be paid because athletics takes up a lot of our time and we can’t really enjoy our life as regular college students.  Even if I was a regular student, I would still want to get a job.”

While their tuition is paid, college athletes can’t hold down a regular job as most students their age can.  Neither their busy schedules with numerous practices and games nor the National Collegiate Athletic Association will allow them to work.

On the other hand, some athletes feel as though having an academic scholarship is enough, and compensation belongs solely to the major sports teams.

“I don’t think college athletes should be paid because we get our tuition paid for,” said UNO senior and tennis player, Fanny Benincasa, “and it would make it more like a professional sport.”

If they were to be compensated, Benincasa and other like-minded athletes believe society couldn’t distinguish the difference between an amateur and a professional athlete.  Imagine if the university’s baseball and the New Orleans Zephyrs teams were considered equivalents because both paid their athletes.

Would there be a substantial difference if both were paid? For now, college and professional sports remain divided by compensation.

Tradarrius McPhearson, a UNO junior and basketball player, echoes Denard that college athletes should be paid.

” . . regular college students have all the time in the world to make extra money, and all we [athletes] do is practice and compete in games so we really don’t get a chance to enjoy our outside life,” said McPhearson.  “There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that we put in for our school.  The school name is something we wear everyday, so essentially you are a model for the school.  We are also helping our schools financially because of the publicity we provide for the athletic programs.  I just don’t understand why we can’t see some of the revenue our school is seeing.”

In fact, college athletes do provide revenue for universities, which in turn help each institution academically.  Universities in Division 1 such as Louisiana State University are highly-publicized for its athletic programs and all-star athletes, and attract a large percentage of future college students because of it.  With the influx of increasing students heralds a wider variety of classes and specialized departments.

The University of New Orleans is currently in Division 2, and has welcomed numerous athletes and athletic programs like Track and Field and even men and women’s soccer.

“I feel like any athletic sport that brings in money with ticket sales or notoriety along with participating in things within the community is bringing in revenue,” said junior and basketball forward, Cory Dixon.

Meanwhile, UNO student and golf player, Mia Hock, contradicts Denard, McPhearson and Dixon.  She believes that while in college, one is obtaining an education and perfecting their athletic talents.  Athletes may love the sport they play, but shouldn’t be compensated.

“I don’t think college athletes should be paid because not all college athletes deserve to be paid,” said Hock.  “Maybe big Division 1 schools, but I still don’t think you deserve to get paid until you make it to the next level. “

Adding a twist to the debate is UNO student and tennis player, Vinay Kamineni, who said, “I don’t think all sports should be paid because some sports don’t work as hard as others.  I would say division 1 basketball and football should be paid.”

Consider that both college and professional athletes have the risk of injury almost every day, showcasing their talent for their team and fans – but only one team will get paid regardless of an injury.  Because of a clause within their contract, professional athletes will receive some sort of compensation.

For example, recall the basketball players Rajon Rondo, Shaun Livingston and Kevin Ware.  In the 2011 NBA playoff season, Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics was scrambling for a ball when his elbow popped out of socket resulting in the ruling of a dislocated elbow. Although this nasty injury could have ruined that season for him he was able to weather through for his team.

In the regular NBA playing season Shaun Livingston the point guard for the Cleveland Cavilers suffered the worst possible injury one can have to their knee. He was going in for a layup when his knee contoured and he collapsed in pain.  When he later went to the doctor and received his x-rays, he discovered that he dislocated his patella along with tearing four different ligaments in his knee.

In April of this year, Kevin Ware had an injury significantly worse than both of these men, when his bone came 6 inches out of his leg in the NCAA Division 1 basketball finals.

The difference between these two gentlemen is that Kevin Ware is a college athlete who is not paid, but is still going out to represent his school and risking injury every day.  He and his fellow student athletes are bringing in revenue to their school, but they will never receive it.

Yet basketball isn’t the only sport where college athletes were met with injury.

In 2005, a Louisville University football player, Michael Bush, suffered a similar injury to that of Ware except his bone did not exit his leg. He also was not able to complete his season and missed out on an exciting time for his college career.

When Tulane University football player, Devin Walker, and his teammate collided heads in April, Walker suffered a cervical spine fracture.

All of these athletes and many others have received life changing injuries, but if they are in college they will not be receiving any type of payments.

This is the job of a college athlete and the risks they face.  They are representatives of their school, and they encourage pride among their community.  They are dedicated to their sport and believe their actions, whether it’s on the football field or a basketball court, can change the future not for themselves – but a myriad of average college students.

They are still just college students who attend classes who have homework and studying to do, and are still learning their craft.

This is why the debate continues.

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