Steen says: Should college athletes be paid?

Steen says: Should college athletes be paid?

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It’s a question that has certainly raised some controversy over the past several years across the NCAA: Should college athletes be paid?

Webster’s dictionary defines employee as, “a person who works for another person or for a company for wages or a salary.”  Well according to that definition, collegiate athletes fit the mold for the first part. Technically they are “working” for the university, making money for the university and creating incredibly large streams of revenue depending on the level of competition.

It’s the second part of Webster’s definition of employee that has become a bit of a grey area in recent times. These athletes aren’t getting paid a salary or a wage for the job they are doing. Many would argue that the discounted or free education is salary enough. This is a somewhat acceptable argument, but to a certain point.

Most of these athletes, however, can’t work a side job to make some sort of income due to the demands of their sport during the season and the offseason.  Their sport is their job with the amount of time they must dedicate week in and week out.

Athletes aren’t completely broke. They do receive a per diem for travel to cover food expenses. Outside of scholarship money, however, this is the only type of “income” they see throughout a year. I know several athletes at Boise State who are unable to get a part-time job they wish they could have for some extra money during season because the time commitments are not a feasible option for them.

On April 26, a group of football players from Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois, voted to unionize, in order to make a movement to obtain a wage or salary for their work. The ballots will only be opened if the National Labor Relations Board in Washington D.C. recognizes the athletes as employees and side with the student-athletes.

If the union is eventually approved, it would be a monumental shift in the landscape of college athletics. While it still remains up in the air, the debate will still rage on. Do NCAA athletes deserve to be paid for their performance on the field or court? Or is an education payment enough? I still don’t know if I have a firm answer on
this one.