2:20 p.m., April 8, 2013


Payment for play?

Should student athletes be paid? This is the hot button issue in the world of collegiate sports, specifically the National College Athletic Association. College football and basketball programs rake in millions of dollars; coaches are paid extravagant amounts of money, yet players are left shouldering the weight. Sure, college athletes receive scholarships, many times a full-ride, but is it enough? Sports, in general, are big business, and college should be no exception.

College football and basketball are the two biggest culprits in the debate about whether players should be paid. This can partly be attributed to the leagues into which they feed. The National Basketball Association and the National Football League both have strict age rules on when players can join the professional leagues. Basketball prospects must have a year between high school and when they can join the NBA, and generally this hole is filled with a stint in a college basketball program. Following a year of playing in the NCAA, the player is eligible for the draft and can then pursue a career in the NBA.

The NFL has a three-year wait; players must be 21 to enter the NFL draft. Where else would a potential football player receive the exposure and the coaching than in college? Nowhere. These athletes are often given full-ride scholarships to prestigious schools. However, academic standards are often thrown out the window, and players take easy classes to maintain their eligibility, as they have aspirations of playing in the big leagues.

Scholarships enough compensation for college athletes

There are strong opinions that college athletes are compensated enough with scholarships. The thought is the school will pay the player with education. But for many of these athletes, athletics is their job, and school is just the place where they play, rather than playing a sport to further their academic career. This brings up the thought of, should there be alternative routes to the professional leagues?

The National Hockey League has multiple paths to the professionals. Players have the options of playing juniors, or trying to go professional, or what many players do, both. Juniors is the tier of hockey above high school, but below semi-pro and college. The top tiers of this are the United States Hockey League in the U.S. and the Canadian Hockey League in Canada. This does not even include the countless feeder leagues and professional leagues in Europe as well.

Perhaps the answer to whether players are paid in college is more a question of whether there should be other options. That way, if a player would rather receive a paycheck, he could play in an alternative league, or if he wanted to earn a degree in addition to playing collegiate sports, he could do that under the current scholarship format.

March 2013: Big hits bring big controversey in professional sports

February 2013: Shootouts put I back in team sports