BP #18: Johnny Moneyball
$53 million: That’s the amount that the top 15 college football coaches make, not counting bonuses. When you add in TV deals,fan tickets, and merchandise, college sports programs are worth over 10 billion dollars to their schools. That money goes to pay for new stadiums, salaries of the athletic department, and mostly, into the pockets of big colleges. But one segment that is purposely left out is player compensation. College athletic programs bring in loads of bucks, but a single penny is seen by the men and women who put on the real show.
Many say that giving college athletes money for playing their sport would cause their school work to suffer, because they will spend the bulk of their energy on the game. Mark Emmert, the president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is an stern opposer of paying collegiate stars. “It would be the death of the student-athlete. Why would you even want them to be students? Why would you care about them graduating? Why would you care about their behavior,” said Emmert. But most players would say that the NCAA is ignoring a very known fact in college sports: the student athlete is dying, and the athlete student is thriving. In a poll done by the NCAA in 2011, the vast majority answered “no” to the question, “Are athletes students first and athletes second”. The amount of time put into a sport in college is far greater than what it takes on high school level, but the players hard work pays off for everyone but them.
But colleges say they just don't have the money to pay their athletes. Colleges such as the Texas A&M, who raked in a 100 million dollars in merchandise alone last year, say they can’t afford to pay their players like Johnny Manziel, who was the source of 49 million of that money. But colleges could easily fix this by cutting salaries of their coaches and staff, who make an average of $1.4 million a year. According the Sean Gregory, writer for Time Magazine's front cover story on college athletes, the salaries of college football coaches have skyrocketed by 70% in 6 years, while the paycheck of players like Johnny Football stayed at zero.
Paying players would close the gap in finances that players face. It is a known fact that the scholarships given to athletes does not account for everyday needs like food, shampoo, clothes, etc.
Paying athletes will also make them feel more proud of their work, instead of gripping behind the closed doors. Many players have expressed their feelings about not being paid. “The dominant attitude among players is there is no moral or ethical reason not to take the money, because the system is ripping them off,” said a prominent sport agent.
The Colleges bring in so much money that it would be drop in the bucket to pay players their fair share. Joe Nocera, writer for the NY Times, mapped a plan that is both reasonable and equal. He proposes giving each player 25,000 dollars a year for play, and give each college a three-million dollar cap. And in this plan, there is enough money left over to supply big names in college football ( Maty Mauk, Johnny Manziel), and give them more for the contributions they make. That $3 million is 3% of the 100 million dollars many big colleges make on football alone.
Paying players will teach them how things work in the real sports world. The real world is a hard place to live, and college is suppose to be a place to get a taste of it, before diving head first into it. In the real world of sports, players get contracts for their play. In college, a scholarship can be revoked at any point for bad play, leaving some players enrolled in college and in no position to pay for it without their awarded money. If players knew what tomorrow held, and their future was safe, they would show much more reserve before going out and getting money from other places and by other means. We all like job security as much as the next person, so why not give college students the same benefits as most people expect from any other job.
College athletes risk sound minds and bodies for their teams and schools, but see no true compensation for their hard work. They put on a show for us on the fields and courts, and we eat up every minute of it. So next time you buy that ticket to the “big college game”, think about where all that money is going, and where it is not.