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Pay the players: The lingering controversy that divided the sports world

Levis+Stadium+in+Santa+Clara%2C+CA+where+an+estimated+25+million+people+tuned+in+to+watch+Alabama+play+Clemson+in+the+2019+College+Football+National+Championship.+Approximately+0%25+of+the+470+million+dollars+per+year+ESPN+pays+the+NCAA+to+broadcast+their+student-athletes+went+to+their+student-athletes+on+the+field.+%28Photo+by+Chip+Patterson%29
Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA where an estimated 25 million people tuned in to watch Alabama play Clemson in the 2019 College Football National Championship. Approximately 0% of the 470 million dollars per year ESPN pays the NCAA to broadcast “their student-athletes” went to “their student-athletes” on the field. (Photo by Chip Patterson)

The prospect of paying student-athletes at the collegiate level is a controversy that has overtaken the sports world

Since 1906,  the National Collegiate Athletic Association has been consistent with the fact that they refuse to allow their athletes to receive compensation other than the scholarship money to attend the university of their choice. Any violation of these incredibly strict guidelines will result in punishment not only for the coach and player but can for the rest of the team and school. 

The NCAA rakes in 1 billion dollars annually. 1. Billion. Dollars. The athletes that play the sports that bring in this money do not see any of it, whether in salary or for use of their name or likeness. These injustices have recently caused an uproar in the media due to the attention that has been brought to these issues by professional athletes and others who strongly believe that the student-athletes who give it they’re all on and off the court should be paid. 

Imagine our extraordinary athletes at Gonzaga, such as Terrance Williams, Christian Ficca, or Andrew O’Berry, going on to play the sport they love at the college level and not being able to receive any payment for the blood, sweat, and tears they shed, even though they bring in all kinds of money for their respective universities, whether through ticket sales, TV rights or selling their jerseys.

Sure, they do get scholarship money and other various perks from the school they choose to attend, but so do other students attending the school, and their faces aren’t plastered all over ESPN every day.

Image result for unc vs duke
Coby White, who now plays for the Chicago Bulls in the NBA, had this image of him repeatedly used on entertainment shows such as SportsCenter, as well as commercial promoting the tournament during March Madness, to represent the North Carolina Tar Heels basketball team as they made their NCAA Tournament run. He didn’t see a cent from any use of his image and likeness. To the NCAA, the image is considered to be their property. (Photo by Gerry Broome)

These athletes play their hearts out each and every day, and sure, they get a great education at some of the best schools, but some student-athletes will still end up with student debt. This is atrocious considering how much the NCAA rakes in each year. 

California governor, Gavin Newsom, said in a tweet, “Colleges reap billions from student-athletes but block them from earning a single dollar. That’s a bankrupt model.”

Unlike many other states, California passed a law in September, bypassing NCAA rules and allowing collegiate players to be paid for their likeness and image beginning in 2023. This brave initiative by the state of California has encouraged several other states to consider doing the same. 

College student-athletes have to balance academic excellence and athletic superiority, and they have an added pressure to perform that many traditional college students do not have to endure. They also have a certain level of uncertainty about their lives that comes with being a student-athlete. Many of these students put in an immense amount of effort and tireless work for four years, and if they have an unforeseen injury, they may not be able to play at the collegiate level, potentially losing their scholarship, much less the professional level.

This can end their career and may result in them not making any money in the sport they poured their lives into at the collegiate level. This leaves this large pool of student-athletes with a good education but potentially with piles of student debt.

States should not have to bypass the system like California did. The NCAA should pay their student-athletes based on their merit. The athletes who perform the best and are the best players in their field will be paid the most. I don’t want the payment of athletes coming out of high school, money influencing the school they want to attend. They should feel free to go wherever and still be able to provide for their families and themselves. Student-athletes shouldn’t have to struggle with money when they are the ones outwardly representing the school to the country in such a positive light. They deserve better.

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