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Feeding Frenzy: Student-Athletes Should Be Paid

    By Lorenze Gordon-Haynes. October 29, 2019 - 11:00 am

Feeding Frenzy articles are opinion pieces written by HPU students. The opinions expressed in these articles are solely the opinions of the author and do not reflect the opinion of the Kalamalama or Hawai’i Pacific University.

Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash

Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash


Every athlete’s dream is to eventually get paid for playing the sport they love and put so many hours into. In our world today, athletes do not expect to be rewarded for their hard work until they are out of college and playing professionally. When you are a little kid it makes sense but as you grow older you start to realize how much a college athlete brings to a university.

College sports are extremely popular in our country, and as a result it brings in billions of dollars each year. This amount of revenue is generated through ticket sales and selling merchandise. The sports that generate the most revenue for the university are men’s basketball and football. Power-Five schools (schools in the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12, and SEC conferences) are making much more money from student athletes that play major sports than they are losing by paying for their tuition. So in other words the schools are getting reimbursed for their athletes as well as getting a lot extra.

Being a student athlete is equivalent to working two jobs. After attending classes, workouts, and practice there is not any time for an athlete to then go work a 4-8 hour shift job. You are probably wondering why a job is needed if the athlete is on scholarship. The scholarship athletes receive only meets the bare necessities of their needs. Yes the school is paid for, yes your living is included in that, but after that there is not much left over for student athletes to live on. This is not fair because your team can be bringing in sell out crowds, your jersey can be selling at a high rate, and you still do not reap any of the benefits of those sells.

The selfishness and lack of a free market approach is another way in which the NCAA limits student athletes. Before an athlete can become eligible to play in the NCAA on a scholarship they must sign over all rights to the NCAA regarding self-promotion, future professional opportunities, and any type of extra earnings on the side. This certificate of amateurism must be signed by all athletes and if any of the rules are broken the athlete can face suspension from play depending on the severity of the issue. Essentially college athletes are playing the role of indentured servants.

The point I am trying to convey is that by doing that, you are still cutting the athletes short of their earnings. Some may think the athletes are not missing out on that much money, but when you are a college student, not just an athlete, any extra money counts and means a lot and makes for better living. Not to mention if you earned something then you deserve your reward, in the situation money happens to be the reward. In reality, the NCAA is hindering the opportunity for these athletes to get an early start on their careers by cutting off their ability to go out and market themselves for the future. Many people forget that most athlete’s careers are short. As each year passes, the window to obtain income becomes slim due to a countless number of reasons. Allowing athletes the opportunity to get a jump start on this while in college is just the fair thing to do, seeing that the athletes are bringing in millions of dollars yearly for the college and NCAA.

If you are still not understanding why athletes should get paid, listen to this. In 2011, the NCAA and CBS agreed upon a deal worth $10.8 billion. The deal was made to televise college basketball March Madness from 2011 to 2024. March Madness occurs every year for three weekends in a row in March. Just from this partnership it is worth so much more than a student athlete’s athletic scholarship. Not to mention those same athletes you are not paying are the ones that are running up and down the court entertaining thousands of people in the arena and millions watching on television around the world. Yes $10.8 billion is a lot, but this is just a small portion of what the NCAA and schools are making off the strength of student athletes performing at a high level, to then not reward them at all.