As the Final Four is set and the championship is near, CBS Sports with its big ratings are smiling. All the endorsements, commercials, and sponsors surrounding the game; yet it doesn’t compare to the BIGGEST ELEPHANT in the room: Why aren’t college ballplayers, who are the featured stars, being paid directly for their performance?
Let’s be real: College Hoops is big business! The university is paid, the coaches are paid, the audience and alumni continue to buy tickets—So where is the college athlete in the equation.
Speaking of equations. The college sports system is still based on a bartering system, where the athlete plays a sport and in turn receive a top-notch education (through a fully paid scholarship during attendance)
The trouble is: Many college athletes from the most popular, successful, and winning universities are not staying long to receive a degree. Due to the exposure of tv contracts and 24-hour sports coverages, their celebrity and notoriety propel them into professional dollars and salaries after a year.
So what is the real value of a college education? What’s the point of maintaining an obviously out-dated bartering exchange, where an education is as disposable as a pair of Converse.
Also, Big Major college coaches are being paid more than nobel prize-winning professors at the same university. This must send out some alarm about collegiate priorities, the value of education and the revenue of sports. Even in the professional game, the players are less-skilled and developed to truly show a higher level expected from being paid multi-millions.
My final comment is that education has value that should not be traded at a cost. Sure, college for the rest of the student body may help to secure better jobs, but the college athlete requires a new framework.
My suggestion: College athletes should be formally paid (as employment) while playing sports. If education is really valued, then the athlete can return to school (tuition free) for a lifetime. In theory, the great college player can leave early to pursue a professional career, but the academic doors remain open even after their years of scholarship eligibility. Taken a step further, if the player declines to return, there should be a voucher given to be used by a family member, son or daughter, of the player to attend that same college (pending some academic standards) at least the first year.
This way, sports, education, and money can stay in their respective places without hypocritical overlap. So we can go back to enjoying the games and cherishing the value of a college education.