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Every college student deserves to be recognized for their talent, academics, and unique qualities that they bring to their institution. Each college prides itself on students’ diverse characteristics that enhances the institution’s reputation and honors whether it be for the arts and sciences, volunteer work, or leadership as just a few of the examples. However, the meat of the student body from any higher education receives little to none profitable opportunities as well as recognition in comparison to student athletes. Although college athletic programs generate an immense amount of revenue for the institution, the California laws allowing college students to make a profit for their sport will hurt the institution’s funding and disproportionately set them apart from the rest of the student body.
Let’s paint a picture. A stadium packed with adoring spectators, college athletes running and sweating across the field, cheerleaders flying in the air, and the band syncing to the beat of the plays; there’s no doubt that attending a sports event, let alone a college sporting event, brings excitement and entertainment appeal like no other. Billions of dollars are revolved around college sports, and there is without a doubt that the actual athletes want a piece of the action. With the sports industry having an estimated net worth of “$471 billion without sponsorships and broadcasting rights in 2019” and college athletics programs with a collected “$14 billion in revenue in 2019,” athletics bring in big business and revenue. However, the average scholarship is “roughly $18,000” that does not cover most public or private school tuitions where it is assumed that virtually all college students receive a full ride or full athletic scholarships covering tuition and fees, books, room and board. Yet, only about “1% of student athletes receive a full athletic scholarship” where the only a total of “$2.9 billion is distributed amongst 150,000 student athletes a year.” With the industry’s worth and the distribution of money, college athletes should receive a fair sum of money through their earned scholarship opportunities, but receiving the benefits would create a cloud of conflict and division in the school. College athletes earning revenue will make college athletics seem more superior than any other program. Although it will bring positive effects toward the student athletes who will feel satisfied with their talent, provide strong exposure and add value to the school through business and marketing deals. Even with the positive exposure effects, it will not offset the backlash from the rest of the institution’s community. College students walk in knowing their duty and their scholarship reward for playing a college sport for the college prior to signing onto the team. Athletes already come with the fundamental notion of their scholarship packet that in it itself provides a strong beneficial opportunity to cut tuition expenses that not all students have the honor of receiving. With the amount of money colleges receive for the athletics programs, there is without a doubt that they are exploiting their college athletes to make revenue, but if institutions were to pay the athletes, it would hurt the fundings for other programs, secondary sports programs, and faculty salaries. Although there can be many scenarios of how schools can better distribute money than just monopolizing the funding for certain staff, programs, and refurbishment, it is unlikely to change the notions of funding and budgeting for specific institutions no matter how unfair it may seem. The overall economics of students receiving payment from institutions can get messy for the sports programs, therefore, it would be best served for college athletes to not receive money for their likeness, image, and name in order to keep the peace and civility of the institution (Best Colleges Staff).
If these athletes were to receive funding, it will affect the perceptions of how the student body sees athletes. Regular students would question why they didn’t receive funding for the programs and honors they have earned. Whether it be a fine art student who had art exhibited outside of the program, a student leading a debate club, or a student receiving 4.0 GPA in all of their classes, all students should be rewarded for their achievements and receive similar recognition. Even though there are more scholarship opportunities awarded to student athletes than regular students, having athletes receiving more benefits on top of their scholarship will aggravate and guilt the rest of the student body urging their institutions to give them more money. This would put student athletes on a pedestal compared to the rest of the students making the students feel that they are not worth enough of their accomplishments and talents. Thus, student athletes will begin to be seen less of a student causing divisiveness that their talent outshines other students. Arguably, student-athletes have busy schedules for practicing, attending games while simultaneously being a student, however non-student athlete students can have busy schedules as well. With their extra curricular activities, taking on organizations and clubs, leadership opportunities, and work study, regular students can be equally busy as a student athlete. No student should feel as if they are better than another student, but students should be seen for being a student without it feeling as if it is a competition.
As a non student athlete, I believe that providing wages for student athletes will further marginalize the institution’s community. Even though the distribution of funds and scholarships remains to be a flawed and corrupt system, where most students, including student athletes, do not receieve the funds to outset the institution’s tuition, students and staff will feel split from the community that the institution strives to create. Because most colleges do not have endless money to provide opportunities for everyone, if a bigger chunk of the institution’s budget was given to pay student athletes, it will hurt the wages of faculty and student opportunities.
Ally Zettlemoyer, a student in Jon Pfeiffer’s media law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the above essay in response to the following question: California and several other states have passed laws that would make it easier for college athletes to make money from their name, image, and likeness. Is this a good idea? How do you think it will affect college athletics? The class covers copyright and social media. Ally is an Advertising and Art major.
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