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Paid college teams lose integrity

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On Sept. 16, TIME Magazine ran a cover story on the issue of paying college athletes. The article argued that since teams make hundreds of millions of dollars from the players, they should get a slice of the pie. But shelling out big bucks to compensate players would only help a handful of athletes at a handful of schools.

The two sports that are especially in contention are basketball and football. College football already has good things going for it, however. College players play for the love of the game, while professional players play for the love of the contract.

Upsets happen all the time in college football because no one team has a monopoly on player talent. Rivalries actually mean something in college football. Best of all, we don’t have to sit through eight hours of pregame coverage for the BCS championship thank goodness. Schools generate nine-figure revenues that are not hindered by payment to players.

Paying players would only benefit a small percentage of players while completely demolishing the game for the other players and fans. Only 200 football players in the NCAA each year make it to the NFL. That means only 2.4 percent of college players actually make it to the NFL. The rest of the players in the NCAA get a free college education while playing a sport they love. Since the players are not making millions of dollars, the game is infinitely more interesting to watch because they players actually care about the game.

The revenue schools make from sports programs benefits the entire school. Schools with successful athletic teams often see jumps in application rates. Increased earnings from application fees go back to paying for better facilities across campus. If colleges paid players, the sports teams would isolate themselves from the campus, since revenue would just go back to paying players. They wouldn’t be college teams but semi-pro club teams that happen to be in the vicinity of a college campus.

Besides, college athletes already get paid. Star athletes get full ride scholarships, and since college tuition is rising exponentially, that is a respectable paycheck. I will admit that athletes should receive stipends since they cannot work on campus like other students. But it isn’t fair to increase payment to NFL or NBA levels when the rest of the campus struggles with tuition and unpaid internships.

There are more people who need to get paid over star college athletes. For example, Olympic athletes do not get paid for competing in the games. The International Olympic Committee nets about $625 million selling broadcasting rights. Olympic players take home zero dollars from that mammoth sum of money. They are compensated based on the medals they receive, with gold being worth $25,000, but they receive nothing for the years they spend training. During those years, they often live on food stamps and subsidized housing.

Sure, college football is not perfect, but it is much better than that degenerate cousin we call the NFL. Paying players would make college football more like the NFL and thus just another annoyance to put up with watching football. Besides, we shouldn’t be talking about paying players before we have fixed the real problem in college football: the BCS ranking system. If we want to change college sports, we should change the BCS ranking system first. If we want to change player payment, we should pay Olympic athletes first. If we want good football to watch, we should not pay college players.

ellingss@stolaf.edu

Graphic Credit: ALLI LIVINGSTON/MANITOU MESSENGER