Samuel Anthony: College athletes — unpaid workers or highly paid college students?

College athletes are the most prominent figures on campuses everywhere; however, is it fair that these figures make less money than the kid selling their jerseys at the student store? As someone who has three roommates and has eaten four bowls of top ramen and five PB&Js in the last …

College athletes are the most prominent figures on campuses everywhere; however, is it fair that these figures make less money than the kid selling their jerseys at the student store? As someone who has three roommates and has eaten four bowls of top ramen and five PB&Js in the last three days to try to make it through college, athletes are paid plenty in the long run through their tuition and living expenses being paid for.

College is expensive. Current and former college students know this well. Along with college tuition and housing, food and books are also major expenses. According to Abigail Hess from cnbc.com, the average student has over $37,000 of debt when they graduate.

According to the University of Oregon’s cost of attendance webpage, out-of-state students’ tuition with fees is usually over $35,000. For in-state students, tuition and fees can be upwards of $12,000. Add on to that the $12,000 estimated living cost by U of O, and students are usually paying a minimum of $24,000 a year to go to college, and for many, it can be over $47,000 a year.

According to their website, the NCAA sets the maximum limit of hours of “countable athletically related activities” to 20 hours per week during the season, and during the off-season, the limit is lowered to eight hours per week. Generally, a sports season is no longer than six months, meaning the maximum average time an athlete can be forced to practice or play with the team is 14 hours per week.

If you take the minimum amount of money a college player would be spending on school, and calculate how much that player is making per hour year round, with an average of 14 hours per week, it comes out to over $32 an hour completely untaxed. In addition, $32 an hour is also the bare minimum for an athlete, as those from out of state are making over $64 an hour toward their tuition and living costs. These are huge figures when compared to the $10 an hour other students usually make with work studies or part time jobs.

Along with the money athletes receive for tuition and room and board, they can also be awarded stipends to help pay for other expenses. These stipends can be anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 dollars a year. Furthermore, athletes also receive benefits that are hard to put a price tag on, such as professional medical staff, personal tutors and personal trainers that could help them go pro.

Many people believe the misconception that colleges are making massive amounts of money off of student athletes. While the school generally makes a profit off of men’s football and basketball, every other sport usually takes a loss. Instead of using the profit to pay football and basketball players beyond what they are already receiving, the school uses the money to fund scholarships for athletes in other sports that don’t make a profit, such as women’s basketball, baseball and soccer.

One major issue that still needs to be addressed in regards to compensation for college athletes, however, is their image. Popular players like Marcus Mariota often help the school sell thousands of jerseys with their names and numbers printed across the back, but they receive zero compensation for the use of their image. Players should be able to negotiate and receive a royalty for their image, as the scholarships they receive are for their talents and hard work, not their image or likeness.

With all of this taken into consideration, it seems that college athletes are paid fairly for their talents, especially when compared with other college jobs that students take. While the college athletes may not see their hard work in cold hard cash like the kids selling their jerseys at the student store, they undoubtedly see more value in the long run. Through having both their living and tuition costs completely paid for, athletes are given a debt-free college degree, which is something many students who are tens of thousands of dollars in debt can only dream of.


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