Pay to Play: An exploration of the Rule of the NCAA

The logo of the National College Athletics Association

This blog post will discuss one of the most controversial topics in college sports, and in sports in general for that matter. Pay to play is the debate over whether college athletes should be compensated more than they already are (usually scholarship covering tuition, room, and board and some other more nominal expenses.)   It is important to know before continuing to read this blog post that I strongly believe that students should be compensated more than they are for participating in varsity college athletics. I will further discuss the connections this debate has with our class, mainly regarding social contracts and Machiavelli. The NCAA is the body that governs everything having to do with college sports. They are often seen as an all-powerful body as they are in charge of both deciding on the rules that must be followed by colleges and their athletes, and also act as the judge, jury, and executioner regarding infractions of said rules. They have determined that as college athletes are students first and are technically amateur that they should not be paid for their play. I however strongly disagree with this as athletes in some programs bring in so much recognition and money to their school, through their hard work and dedication, that not giving them further compensation is ridiculous and the equivalent of pimping out student athletes. This may seem extreme but the numbers are truly astonishing.

University of Alabama after winning the National Championship and bringing countless benefits to the University and NCAA

The University of Alabama alone brings in over 80 million dollars from football and yet the estimated total cost of four years of attendance at the University of Alabama (the maximum a player can earn in monetary value) is under $100,000. This has not even taken into account the notoriety these players bring to a school which encourages a larger number and a higher quality of students to apply and attend said universities. This also doesn’t take into account how much the NCAA (classified as a non-profit organization with over 1 billion dollars in annual revenue) makes off of these players. Here is where I will stop ranting, and make my connection to the course. When we talk about social contracts we have discussed for what reason someone would enter into a social contract and what they entail. The general consensus is that they entail sacrificing some of your freedom for a larger cause. There are many benefits of doing this, obviously, or it would never be done… or would it. I would argue that players entering college sports enter into a type of social contract with the NCAA and yet there are almost no benefits to this relationship. The NCAA is an authoritarian governing body who does not give any say to the players or college which they control. The vast majority of people would also argue that there are no benefits to a player playing under the NCAA. It is only done because for most high school athletes, it is their only choice. In many sports, there are regulations on when a player can go pro and even in the sports where a player could go pro right from high school, there are very few players with the ability or recognition to do so. The NCAA is only able to do what they do because they have a monopoly on college sports. Here I will make another connection. The NCAA uses a completely fear based system to rule just as Machiavelli says too. This is one of the reasons they are so successful. They use repression and severe punishments to deter players and colleges from speaking out against the NCAA. If the NCAA were simply to rely on player’s seeing the benefit in playing under the NCAA to rule then they would go under in a matter of years. This obviously gives weight to Machiavelli’s theory.

The University of Michigan “Big House” made famous by the thousands of athletes who have competed on its turf. A huge attraction to potential applicants.

To return to the idea of social contracts my argument is that while most social contracts would seem to benefit both parties there are exceptions. The contract between the NCAA and the athletes it says it represents is completely one sided as the athletes bring in billions of dollars to the NCAA and the NCAA gives almost nothing in return.

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7 thoughts on “Pay to Play: An exploration of the Rule of the NCAA

  1. The attention to detail in this blog post is very strong, and helps support your argument. I never knew the exact statistics, and it eye opening to see them. However, I disagree that college student-athletes should be compensated financially. Being a student-athlete is a choice, one that you make knowing full well that there are possibilities for fame and extreme publicity if your talents or your team excels. While it is true that the NCAA makes millions off student-athletes, I believe each person knows full well the limitations of their contract. If a student-athlete did not want to be utilized for money, they could go to a less publicized D2 or D3 school and play their sport. If they wanted a bigger school in order to help advance their professional careers, then their job goals would end up paying them anyway. College athletics are a privilege, not a requirement. I think the free education and chance to play on such high levels of competition are enough benefits for student-athletes. On the other hand, I believe it is important to note that valid arguments can be made for both sides of this issue.

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  2. I agree with you saying Student- Athletes should be paid. I will explain more about that but I want to recognize first, the truth behind how the NCAA uses fear tactics. They have an unlimited amount of rules and do many things to “use people as examples”. For instance the recent case with Todd Gurley. He ran into an issue with money from autographs and was suspended for an unreasonable amount of time for something that didnt happen as the NCAA portrayed to be. Now going back to why athletes should be paid. As an athlete here, our day is booked from waking up to going to sleep. We might have about an hour of free time a day after homework, lifting, practice, and eating before we have to go to bed. How is there time for a job? Its just some food for thought but great article in all!

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  3. As a student athlete myself, I believe we are well taken care of; the basketball players, that is. We have access to world class coaches, trainers, leaders and facilities as well. Additionally, we went on a trip to Italy this summer at no cost to any of us. The basketball program took care of it all. If that is not like pay, I’m not sure what is; mind you, it was all perfectly legal, as the majority of it came from the donations of alum.

    I know the NCAA is in the process of amending some of it’s rules, but I don’t think student athletes should be paid to play a game they love. Not only would that take away from their title as amateurs, in a sense, but it would also give athletes an additional incentive to compete in athletics besides for the love of the game.

    I understand the thought process behind

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  4. The debate on whether college athletes should be paid or not is a very tricky issue. Part of me feels that college athletes are being taken advantage of, but at the same time how would we compensate athletes in a fair way, considering not all sports or individual athletes are equal. Should college athletes be allowed to participate in commercials? Should they get a portion of their jersey sales? Or should every athlete, no matter the sport or school get paid a fixed salary? There is no right answer, but I think the main problem is that we often forget college athletes are still students and not just athletes. Without college sports, many of these athletes would not receive a college education. Last time I checked, a college education is worth something too. And furthermore, if athletes are playing their sport solely for the money and not for the love of the game, they probably shouldn’t be playing their sport at all. If the athlete is that talented, the money will come down the road at the professional level. But meanwhile, college athletes should focus on their academics as well considering the vast majority of college athletes never go pro.

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  5. Finishing my previous comment here: “I understand the thought process behind this proposal but I do not agree with it in any way, shape, or form.”

    Many of the athletes here are getting an education worth $250,000 dollars in monatary value for no cost other than their commitment to their team and their commitment to being leaders and best on the court or field and in the classroom.

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  6. I agree that it is reasonable to seek that student athletes be compensated in a greater way, though there are a few points you could have discussed. First, you constantly say that many athletes bring in millions of dollars of revenue to their schools and the NCAA, but fail to mention that as many, if not more, athletes bring no monetary profit to their universities. This is when the issue becomes complicated; should only the athletes who compete in profitable sports reap the benefits of this profit, or should all athletes be compensated more, and equally, despite the fact that most sports bring no monetary profit to schools and the NCAA? The other point that one might touch on is the fact that the NCAA is the group that both regulates and profits from collegiate athletics. That fact is inherently frightening. That would be like the McDonald’s being run by the FDA. Overall good blog with a many very interesting discussions.

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