March Madness Is Another Reminder That It’s Time To Pay College Athletes

The only fair solution is an all or nothing system.
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It’s been an interesting March Madness tournament so far. No. 1 overall seed Villanova and No. 2 seeds Duke and Louisville were knocked out in week one, and more than likely messed with your overall bracket picks. In the end, one school will be crowned the winner. Of course, the truth is, when it comes to the annual March Madness tournament, everyone wins except for the players.

In a multi-billion-dollar industry, and when you breakdown the big picture, it becomes crystal clear what a losing scenario this truly is. Who profits from college sports? It’s publicity for the schools. It’s advertising dollars for the TV networks. It’s increased sales hopefully for the companies that advertise. It’s money for the local stadium and arena vendors. It’s revenue for the city or county. It’s major bucks in the way of multi-million-dollar contracts for the head coaches. Everyone is profiting but the kids who are the stars of the show. How is that fair? Where is the critical thinking on this one? This isn’t high school sports we are talking about. These are real professional athletes playing in a very professional setting who aren’t being fairly compensated.

I know what you’re thinking: free education. The problem with the free education argument is that from a monetary standpoint, these athletes deserve a lot more than that free education. So yes, they save $150,000-$200,000 or whatever the number is over the course of four years on the cost of school, housing, meals, etc., but what do they really get in the end? A piece of paper. There’s nothing wrong with a college degree, and in fact it’s something to be very proud of. The problem, however, is that a college degree on its own isn’t going to make anyone successful.

A college education sets people up for the linear world of commerce, the usual nine-to-five. Over the last 30 years, I’ve interviewed more than 1,200 of the world’s wealthiest and most successful people. Some are college educated; others are not. The one thing they have in common: the overwhelming majority do not attribute their success to traditional college as we know it, even the ones who completed a four-year degree. While they all certainly respect higher education, again, it has little to do with their real-world success.

“When you breakdown the big picture, it becomes crystal clear what a losing scenario this truly is.”

Let’s be realistic about college sports. Many of the players don’t make it to the pros. Sure, there are some who you know it’s only a matter of time before they go pro. But for others, what happens when their playing days are over? What happens to the kids who don’t get drafted to the NFL or NBA? They’ve invested four years and given more blood, sweat and tears to profit others and have nothing to show for it. What kind of example are we setting? Money traded for value is the basic premise of a capitalistic society. Yet they aren’t earning a penny. It’s a flawed equation because everyone wins except for the very people responsible for it all: the athletes.

NCAA President Mark Emmert said, “People come to watch ... because it’s college sports, with college athletes.”

Well if that’s the case, why should anyone profit? Why sell merchandise? Why sell food? Why sell tickets? Again, remove the players and you are left with absolutely nothing. Wouldn’t it make sense to treat your players like the stars they are?

It’s almost comical that the NCAA has maintained that paying college athletes would disrupt the competitive balance in college sports. The truth is, money is the largest motivator known to mankind. If performance dictates pay, just imagine how much these guys would push to up their games to the next level. If you think the level of talent is impressive now, just imagine the show they would put on if they knew they were being paid for that performance.

The only fair solution is an all or nothing system. Either everyone profits from college sports, especially the athletes, or no one does. It’s time to offer college athletes the piece of the pie they have earned and so desperately deserve. It’s time to stop the rip-off and start paying college athletes once and for all.

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