Throughout the year, college athletes around the country will compete on behalf of their universities. Many of these institutions will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from ticket and merchandise sales, as well as contracts with television networks, while the individual athletes will not receive a single penny. In fact, there are detailed rules forbidding NCAA athletes to receive anything of value whatsoever. Does this seem fair? Especially this time of the year, as many NCAA athletes prepare to compete in various national tournaments and championships, the question of whether this system is just becomes a topic for discussion.
Those who believe that NCAA athletes should be paid look at the enormous sums of money generated by the universities and the risk that athletes take when competing. They argue the fact that no other student, whether he/she receives some type of scholarship or not, is prohibited from earning money while at school. Others believe that because athletes typically obtain some type of scholarship and gain knowledge and experience while in school, they are sufficiently being compensated for their work.
The issue is a difficult one, especially because it is usually only a few teams at a college which generate most of the revenue. As an example, the division one football team that we see on television every Sunday generates considerable revenue, while the cross-country track team probably generates none. Should every athlete at a university be paid equally, or should the pay be based on something else? Where will the funds come from? Would paying athletes affect their attitude towards the game?
There are strong opinions on both sides of this discussion and it does not seem like the issue will be solved any time soon. While the debate continues, each athlete can decide for him or herself; certain elite athletes are choosing to leave school early to attempt to compete professionally and get paid for the efforts, while others remain in college to compete as amateurs.