Exploitation of College Athletes
Imagine you work at a business outside of Austin, Texas. For 10 months out of the year you are required to be outside in the Texas heat for 3 hours a day twice a day. Now imagine that you also have a full schedule of classes to attend. On top of that you generate millions and millions of dollars each year for your employer of which you don’t see a single penny, and if you’re not lucky you are actually paying them to be there. Does this sound like some kind of underground sweatshop operation Nikkei is running in the heartland of America?
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Actually, this is describing the typical life of a allege football player at the University of Texas under the current guidelines of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Every year millions of people flock to stadiums across the country to watch their local collegiate teams participate in athletic competitions. Along with the entertainment provided to the fans, the schools give the people of that university a sense of pride and bragging rights amongst other teams.
Over the years, the popularity of college sports (especially basketball and football) has brought in incredible amounts of money for their respective universities. These sports are currently multi-million dollar businesses that are branded, marketed, and sold in the same way that any other product is. In the middle of this fanatical marketplace are the people who compete in the sports, the student- athletes, who are sometimes overlooked as mere objects. While colleges and universities continue bring in millions of dollars off of these young men and women, they don’t get paid a single cent.
In the following paper I want to examine the underlying problems of the business that is college sports and how the athletes are exploited for their talents and how the universities that claim to protect them are winning big. In order for us to examine this issue we will start by looking at a few different models that have emerged over the years as this topic has become more and more prevalent. The first of these models is the Amateur/Education model. This states that athletes are only at the university in order to achieve an education and eventually graduate.
According to this system athletes are considered an integral part of the educational process at the university. The athlete fully embodies the creeds that universities are allegedly based on. The idea is that the students who come to their school personify the values of devotion, selflessness, sacrifice and purity. The NCAA uses the defense that the students they receive scholarships. If a student is on scholarship then they are playing purely for the pleasure of the sport while simultaneously given the ability to receive a college degree.
The notion that student- athlete abide to the rules and regulations of the NCAA and the Amateur/Education model while the school brings in millions of dollars is extremely hypocritical. They are essentially saying that it is wrong for the student-athletes to get paid because they are supposed to be altruistic vehicles for the school but at the same time the university is negotiating new sponsorships and TV contracts worth millions of dollars. In response to the problems brought about by the Amateur/Education model, a new, more modern-day model has been constructed that takes into account the economic realities that college athletics face. Enterprise that is subject to the same economic considerations as other industries. Using this model to examine the issue, economics displaces the principle of amateurism as the main proponent of college sports. This model recognizes that college sports are marketed, advertised and sold Just like any other product. By looking at the student-athletes as an integral part of the college sports community it is easy to see why they should be paid. They are the main reason why the sports make money. The viability of the sport is diminished if you take out the athletes. Without the players, you have no teams.
Without the teams, you have no sport. Without the sport, you have no money coming in. You simplify it to no players = no money. This model also takes into account the fact that college sports are completely different now than they were when the NCAA was founded over 100 years ago. Economically, the decision by universities to not pay players is a genius method of exploitation. Let’s take the University of Texas for example. Currently, a nonresident business major pays a little less than $17,000 dollars. A Texas resident for the same major pays a little more than $5,000.
A four-year degree would cost less than $70,000 and $20,000 respectively. These are the 2009-2010 statistics which is the same year he Longhorns football team went to the BCC National Championship game. The very same year the reported revenue from the football team alone was 69 million dollars. Out of the 120 players on the team only 8 were from out of state. That means (assuming 100% of the players have a full scholarship) that the school paid $736,000 for scholarships. What this means is that because of the football teams success, over 68 million dollars was generated as pure profit because of the players hard work.
After looking at the facts the idea that a scholarship is sufficient to reimburse the layers is a pretentious one. If the universities whole goal is to ensure that the students get a proper education then the stipulations on the scholarships should be enough to refute that. If an underclassman student-athlete decides he wants to enter the NFG draft he can. This means that he is ineligible for any future participation in collegiate sports. However, if he does not get drafted and instead decides he wants to finish his education, the NCAA regulations deny him that ability to do so.
Without the ability for a prospective student to play a sport, universities are reluctant to give even arterial scholarships. In essence, the university is denying a student-athlete trying to test the professional market the very educational opportunity they claim to promote through scholarships. In response to the public support for compensating student athletes the NCAA has created alternatives that offer illusions of compensation. There are three possible sources of compensation affecting student-athletes, two of which the NCAA places limits on, and one that the NCAA prohibits completely.
First universities can offer scholarships, which as we have seen is built around the secretion of the institution and serves to act as a compensatory system. The second is the ability for student-athletes to engage in limited part-time employment. Finally, the NCAA prohibits student-athletes from receiving money from third parties including agents, boosters, or endorsers. Each of these are regulated by the NCAA in a manner that limits the individual to pursue economic opportunity. The decision by the NCAA to allow student-athletes to obtain part-time Jobs was a welcome change.
However, with the regulations on the amount of hours and wages that can be worked scholarship that covers $12,000 of his $17,000 tuition needed to attend the university. Now this scholarship doesn’t take into account his personal or travel costs which we will say are $2000. The part-time Job allowed by the NCAA would allow the student- athlete to make the extra money to cover his personal costs. However, the employment system brings up the time constraints placed on ODL student athletes. One of the obvious problems is that student-athletes usually do not have time for even a part time Job.
They have a full class schedule, homework, practice and travel mime for road games. A twenty-hour work week on top of all that would be a tremendous stress in the middle of everything else going on. By taking a Job student- athletes are tempted to work more instead of studying for class. Their time could be better served doing homework for class and earning their degree rather than working a part-time Job. Boosters are people who are not affiliated with a university but are instead fans or promoters of a specific organization.
They are allowed by the NCAA as they are meant to provide the players with a positive support through nations of time and financial resources through the school. The NCAA sanctions the following forms of outside payment: any form of payment from a booster to a student-athlete as compensation for athletic performance; student-athletes receiving money from an advertiser using their name or image; and any student-athlete receiving money for signing with a sports agent. The NCAA Justifies these restrictions as being necessary to preserve the principle of amateurism and to protect student- athletes from commercial exploitation.
The present system based on the Amateur/ Education model is not viable in the current collegiate athletic environment. The NCAA cannot simply rely on the value of a college education as compensation. The constant incentives faced by college athletes today are too great and acts as a deterrent against student-athletes completing their college educations. The NCAA must acknowledge that the commercialism in the existing system is what has caused the growth and prosperity of colleges and universities all at the expense of their student-athletes.
Therefore, I believe the only fair way to solve this is to institute a venue-sharing plan between student-athletes and the colleges they represent in order to give the athletes the compensation they deserve. Only then will the NCAA be promoting equality instead of exploitation within the college athletic system. Revenue sharing essentially involves the practice of pooling together revenue from agreed upon sources then distributing it among the parties involved. All four major professional sports (NFG, NAB, ML, NIL) have some form of revenue sharing between ownership and players dealing with merchandising.
A seniority based aerogram would act to promote and reward loyalty to one team. Seniors would get the largest percentage of the profits, while Juniors get a smaller percentage and so on. Leftover money could be given back to the athletic department to pay for other costs that have been generated. There would also be an additional compensatory system for teams that participate in post-season tournaments. Most of the profits gained under the current system are generated during these times and offer huge incentives for schools. The major difference for a playoff team’s revenue sharing loud be a system based on performance, rather than seniority.
This way a second- or third-year player will be rewarded for their performance rather than punished for academic and athletic) should be compensated for their outstays performances. While the NCAA does not sponsor an official All-American team the creation of such a team could be a profit-generating event which could then be used to pay the All- American athletes. The college experience presents many interesting avenues for student-athletes to explore and grow. They are able to meet new people, participate in the sports they enjoy playing, and ideally, earn a degree.
But one of the more painful lessons each student-athlete must face is that they are subject to some degree of exploitation. To be specific, a type of indentured servitude taints college sports when universities profit from the achievements of their student-athletes without adequately compensating them for their time and effort. The argument for restricting compensation to student-athletes has become outdated. The Nana’s alternatives to providing compensation do not furnish most student-athletes with an adequate means to survive through four years of college.
In addition, the Nana’s rules and regulations do more to destroy the notion of amateurism than to foster it. A compelling solution to this problem exists in the form of revenue sharing. A system of revenue sharing would provide student-athletes with more unbiased compensation, while still promoting both academics and athletics. A revenue-sharing plan would not unnecessarily burden all universities, but would ensure that those universities making a profit fairly distribute these revenues to the student-athletes who helped raise the funds.