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Paying College Athletes: Why Not?

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

As college sports fans, the debate about whether or not to monetarily compensate college athletes is an important one in our lives. The fact that this is even a debate at this point is insulting to the athletes. The question is: in today’s society where the NCAA has money to burn, why aren’t they giving the people who actually make that money a cut?

In 1950, the Oklahoma Sooners paid head football coach Bud Wilkinson $35,000. More than 50 years later, the Sooners are paying Bob Stoops $4.55 million to do the same job. The players? They’re getting the exact same thing as well - a college scholarship. Yes, college tuitions have gone through the roof and that is worth exponentially more now, but so has the commitment to play major college sports.

According to a USA Today study, Division I football players spend an average of 44.8 hours per week on their sport, whether it be practice, training, lifting weights or playing. The average full time employee works 40 hours per week! Playing major college sports is a huge commitment for the athletes that deserves to be compensated - and I’m not talking about a scholarship. Those same players? Yeah, they spend 40 hours on their studies. That’s an average of almost 11 hours per day spent either studying or playing their sport. And you think these kids have time for jobs? What about a social life?

So, you have athletes spending upwards of 40 hours per week doing something for free. They’re playing for a school that is making millions off of them playing that sport. For example, a college program will have a football game on Saturday at 7pm. The game will likely sell out, so you have 80,000 fans paying $150 on average to get in the game. What’re they wearing? A T-Shirt/Sweatshirt/Hat that they bought for $20. They get to the game, pay at least $10 for parking, and get in the game. At halftime of the game played by AMATEURS, they go and spend another $15 at concessions. Then you have another couple million people tuning into the game on the TV station that payed millions. Why did they pay that much? To watch amateurs.

If Texas, or Oklahoma, or Alabama, or Texas A&M, or Florida can’t shell out a couple hundred dollars per week to the athletes that their entire program hinges on, something is wrong with the system.