question archive Article 2:c, Sep 6, 2013 "Sorry Time Magazine: Colleges Have No Reason To Pay Athletes" by Tom Van Riper in Forbes, an American business magazine featuring articles on finance, industry, investing, and marketing topics
Article 2:c, Sep 6, 2013 "Sorry Time Magazine: Colleges Have No Reason To Pay Athletes" by Tom Van Riper in Forbes, an American business magazine featuring articles on finance, industry, investing, and marketing topics. It is well known for its lists and rankings of the richest Americans, the world's top companies and The World's Billionaires and its motto, "The Capitalist Tool."
One December Sunday afternoon a few years ago, my eight-year-old daughter and I took our usual stroll down the block to our local catholic parish gym for her CYO [Catholic Youth Organization] basketball game. The routine was no different than for any other Sunday during the season, except for one thing.
With Christmas approaching, the parish had decided on a tournament for that weekend. The gym was swarmed with extra bodies brought on by several youth girls' teams, along with parents and other assorted family and friends. Christmas is more than just that joyous time of year for a parish. It's also money-raising time. So this wouldn't be your standard CYO game where parents wandered in and sat in the bleachers for free. Today, entrance would cost you a buck. This was CYO basketball as a parish fundraiser. Eight-year-old girls as free labor. My daughter and her teammates wouldn't see a dime (about what they were worth) for their sweat. They were exploited, right?
If you believe that Johnny Manziel and other college athletes should be paid, as Time magazine does, then you have to say yes. Principle is principle, whether it's a few bills in a cigar box or millions flowing into a bank account courtesy of television, tickets, and replica jerseys. Or is it okay to make money off the kids as long as it's not, you know, too much money. And where exactly does that line get drawn? We'll know it when we see it?
In its current issue that features Manziel on the cover, Time argues vehemently for payments to big time college athletes, even calling the issue "an ethical imperative." The magazine cites the usual laundry list - schools enjoying exposure while pulling in millions, coaches making big salaries and local bars thriving on game nights. All while the poor players get nothing.
John Rowady, president of sports marketing firm rEvolution, which has worked with many colleges, disagrees. He believes that paying the players as professionals carries a big risk of the public quickly tuning out. "It would start a massive unknown, you have to wonder if it would change the whole dynamic of what it means to be a student-athlete," he says.
There's also another fundamental issue that never seems to come up. It's called the free marketplace. Why don't schools pay? Because they don't have to. Recruits jump on the offer of tuition, room and board without hesitation. And let's not call them exploited - they aren't. Slaves were exploited. A scholarship athlete at a university can leave anytime he wants to, free to become a tuition-paying student like anyone else.
When you really think about it, many of us are just way too enamored with the word "should," as in a college athlete "should" be paid. It's shorthand for trying to impose our own sensibilities onto others, to stick our noses where they don't belong. The issue of compensation for college athletes really comes down to the colleges and the athletes. According to census bureau data, college graduates earn approximately $1 million more during their lifetimes than people whose highest educational attainment is a high school diploma. Most have to invest $100,000 to $200,000 to get that coveted college degree. A scholarship athlete doesn't.
Rowady sees another form of payment that gets overlooked, at least for the top players: brand building. A top notch football or basketball recruit isn't just getting the competitive experience he needs for launching a pro career. He's gaining exposure that's bound to pay off in endorsements and a nice contract the moment he turns pro. "They perform in a high profile environment, and gain access to incredible networks of people," says Rowady. For those who aren't pro material: study. Your education is free, remember.
Few ever benefited more from the exposure factor than the man behind an attention-grabbing lawsuit against the NCAA over player media likenesses, Ed O'Bannon. The former basketball player earned close to $4 million during a brief and disappointing NBA career after he was picked by the New Jersey Nets in the first round of the 1995 draft. Why was O'Bannon drafted so high? Probably because he had just led UCLA to the 1995 national title in front of a massive March Madness audience. Sure, O'Bannon had talent, but there's little doubt that the big brands of UCLA and March Madness pushed his evaluation a bit out of proportion.
Add it all up, and the marketplace produces a collegiate athletic population that is generally happy with what it gets - a free education and broad sports exposure. That doesn't mean there's anything wrong adding some cash to college players' current benefits. Or to let Manziel and others make money signing autographs or doing commercials. If they can get organized and get more for what they do, good for them. But really, enough with the "free labor" morality play. Unless Time wants to put my daughter on its next cover.
Why should NCAA athletes should not be paid?