Tonight is the official kickoff of the college football season and the best teams in the NCAA will battle it out over the next few months. But off the field, a very different kind of battle is still taking place: the question of whether or not college athletes should be paid.
The answer to that is yes. Of course college athletes should be paid.
Let's take a look at it logically. The main reason college athletes should be paid is because everyone else is profiting except the athletes. After all, if you remove the athletes you remove the profit. This isn't some chump change we're talking about, either. In a multi-billion dollar industry, the NCAA, schools, coaches, vendors, local communities and television networks see enormous profits while the athletes get nothing.
Now let's take it a step further: What happens to the kids who don't get drafted to the NFL or NBA, which is the majority of players? 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.
But wait, before you jump down my throat for making the claim that athletes get nothing -- wait for it -- ah yes, the free education argument. The problem with the free education argument is that from a monetary standpoint, these athletes deserve a lot more than a free education. They save $100k-$200k over four years and walk away with a college degree.
There's two problems with this: First, and again, we are talking about a multi-billion dollar industry. Is a free education really fair compensation when everyone else is getting rich? Look at the numbers. Nick Saban is taking home $7.1 million. Mark Dantonio is making $5.6 million. The list goes on. And that's just the coaches. So again, the star performers who everyone comes to see get a free education. That's not good enough!
The second problem with the free education argument is that while a college degree is certainly something to be proud of, it's not going to make any of these kids successful on their own. Let's face the facts: A lot of these kids come from low income families and didn't have access to a world-class education before coming to school. And simply giving them a degree isn't doing anything to ensure their success in the future. It helps but it's not enough. Why not pay them now? Why not cut them a piece of the pie? Why not set them up to have a brighter future after college?
The only fair solution is an all or nothing system. Either everyone profits from college sports, especially the athletes, or no one does. Where does Mark Emmert stand on the issue? Of course he is completely against paying college athletes, all while he takes home almost a $2 million salary. There's nothing wrong with his paycheck, but if it wasn't for these kids Emmert wouldn't have a job. It's the equivalent of a CEO not paying his employees.
Meanwhile, Former SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said that paying players would "significantly disrupt the competitive balance." You've got to be kidding me. Paying the athletes would greatly enhance the competitive balance. What better motivator is there than money? Tell the athletes their performance dictates their level of pay and watch what happens.
The bottom line is it's time to stop the rip-off and do the right thing. Unfortunately, the National Labor Relations Board recently decided that college athletes are not allowed to unionize. The board has yet to decide if college athletes can be considered employees. While it doesn't appear college athletes will be getting a payday anytime soon, hopefully in the future the rules can be changed and athletes will receive the proper compensation. In the meantime, while they do all the work, everyone else will be laughing all the way to the bank.