The Debate Surrounding Compensation for College Athletes

The question of whether or not college athletes should be paid is a two-sided argument. Those in favor say college sports are essentially a full-time job. Others say students should be compensated via scholarships.

Most people recognize and appreciate the amount of time and energy student athletes commit to playing their best on a school's football, basketball, lacrosse team and other sports. However, there is considerable debate over whether or not students should be financially compensated for their time spent in practice and on the field. Some feel that the volume of time that students commit to playing sports amounts to nearly a full time job, if not more, based on hours per week spent practicing, drilling and playing.

Those in favor of compensating student athletes feel that the students serve as an advertising and marketing mechanism for their school, which in turn helps the school attract students and bring in revenue, notes Forbes. Others, however, believe student athletes should be compensated through scholarships, as other students are for their various activities like academic excellence in certain subjects or dedication to community volunteer activities. Those opposed to student payment for athletics also feel that students then become drawn to the school with the highest financial offer, and they'll be more likely to leave the school or enroll elsewhere if another institution presents them with a better offer, according to Listland.

Arguments for Paying Students
Between practice, drills, weight training and playing on the field, the amount of time that Division I athletes commit during a week to their respective sports amounts to over 43 hours, explains Forbes. That is more than a standard American work week, and it doesn't even factor in the amount of time that students set aside for their academic classes, studying for exams and other extracurricular activities that they might be a part of. Furthermore, the National Collegiate Athletic Association sets rather rigorous game schedules for college athletes playing at the Division I level. For games established by the NCAA, students are required to miss class time, which can affect their academic performance.

People in favor of paying student athletes say that between the rigorous schedules imposed by the NCAA, which force students to miss class time, and the fact athletes sacrifice those classes to play televised games that promote their schools, students deserve to be compensated for their time. This is particularly true of schools with historically high-performing teams and in schools where they students help bring their team to a championship level, which gives the school additional media exposure and revenue, as they receive financial compensation when their teams win.

Opposing Voices
Others believe student athletes should not be paid for their efforts. In 2013, nearly 70 percent of the American public voiced opposition to paying student athletes, says College Express. Some people argue paying students would ultimately hurt them, as they'd be required to pay income taxes at the end of the year. In contrast, scholarships do not have that mandate. Others feel that students shouldn't be paid because doing so would cause them to jump to the school offering them the most money, which would make them overlook other factors including the quality of their education. Lastly, others argue students are playing sports as hobbies, and therefore they shouldn't be paid.