College football is big business. This
is Nick Saban. In 2013, he made north of $5
million dollars. Kirby Smart, his assistant coach? He made a comparatively meager $1.1
million dollars. You know, the ushers get paid, the guys who
help the athletes do this get paid, the people who sell merchandise make money. Everyone
gets paid in dollars and cents–everyone, that is, except for the 18 year olds.
They tackle each other in war without killing, risking injury, concussions… health consequences
that last for the rest of their lives. And all for a meager, tiny, infinitesimal chance
to maybe make the NFL, or more realistically, become a part of Tuscaloosa’s football lore.
Why shouldn’t these college gladiators get paid?
The most common reason given by the NCAA and others is that paying student athletes would
corrupt them. It would undermine the values and virtues of amateurism in sport. Amateurism
is the idea that you should pursue an activity for love of the activity, and not for the
love of money. [grunts as he tackles a dummy]
But why should remuneration be thought to have a corrupting effect? We pay professors
and teachers like me, and hardly anybody worries about the corrupting influence of money in
teaching. Is it not possible to play football while getting five dollars for an autograph,
or maybe wearing a sponsor on your jersey? But if opponents are so worried about the
corrupting power of money, why is the coaching staff immune from it? Or how about the president
of the NCAA? This year Mark Emmert will make a cool $1.7 million dollars. Why is it consistent
with the goals of amateurism for everyone surrounding the athletes to make money except
for those student athletes? It makes no sense!
In a particularly cruel twist, college athletes get scholarships. And scholarships are in
themselves a form of payment. It’s just that the NCAA, they’ve instituted a salary
cap. A particularly low salary in an industry that rakes in about $875 million dollars per
year. You know, somebody’s getting paid–it’s just not the athletes.
Love of sport and making money at it are not incompatible. College athletes should be paid.
Maybe they can take me out for a fancy dinner for making this video.
Roll tide! Tim:
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