Student Story: Is Being Paid To Play Really What’s Best For A Student Athlete?

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Commentary By: Samuel Mensah, Freshman, Oakcrest High School, Mays Landing, N.J.

If you were a college athlete getting paid, wouldn’t you think that you have your life together, so it’s ok to drop out of college? I know I would, because then I can have more time to get better at the sport I love and get more money at the same time. 

Think about it — colleges would start losing students and the scholarship the athletes earned could’ve gone to someone who would’ve finished all their years in college. We all know that college athletes are hardworking people, but should they be getting paid for playing, or paid after college in case they don’t make it pro as a reward? College athletes shouldn’t get paid for playing because it’s not fair for the other students and they aren’t professionals yet to be getting paid, they are still in school. 

First off, college athletes shouldn’t be compensated financially because it is not respectful or fair to the other students attending the same school. Consider that most collegiate student-athletes already get “paid” with a scholarship. As stated in an NPR article, “Why Shouldn’t We Pay Student-Athletes?”, “Paying college athletes will almost certainly exacerbate a problem that has been going on for generations, where athletes of a certain number of sports are seen as ever more divided from the actual student body. They’re seen as tangential. They’re seen as not real students.” This shows that paying a student athlete will cause people to see that student as different then regular students. 

Others will wrongly judge the athletes as better than nonathletes because of their abilities and skills. But, isn’t everyone is created equally? Basically, the school is giving them a headstart in life financially, while the other students are struggling, set back by their tuition debt. Also, not everybody likes sports, no matter if they are good at it or not. So, if pay for play occurs, it will make teens think that they can get paid for playing a game that they may dislike despite the fact that they had plans without sports that could get them further. In essence, the student will force themselves to play because it is more lucrative, regardless of their own wants. 

According to the Florida Times Union, the student-athletes “… receive a free education, room and board, tutors, mentors, trainers and top-notch medical attention, and other perks not offered to the general student population. College athletes receive just compensation for their participation. If they do not like it, they can always drop sports, get a job, get student loans, and fight their way through college like everyone else”. This justifies that athletes in college shouldn’t be getting money for playing because they’re already receiving free things that other students have to pay for. College athletes getting paid for playing is like getting a $100 gift card for Chick-fil-a, and then receiving free food from them once a week for a month. It’s not fair for a person to receive a massive benefit to then get additional perks on top of what they already received. 

Following what was previously mentioned, college athletes earning money shouldn’t be permitted because these athletes are still training to be professionals; they haven’t finished their education yet. According to the article “Top 10 Reasons Why College Athletes Should Not Be Paid: A List that Tells You Why We Shouldn’t Pay College Athletes,” “College is a provided service by each state. College athletes are not professionals and therefore should not be paid. The purpose of going to college is to get the training so a person can use it later in life. That’s what the NCAA provides. 

Experts say that athletes play at the college level and they further use that experience at the professional level where they will be paid. Just like everybody else. This confirms that college athletes are just athletes, not professional athletes. A student athlete should be focused on school so they can get the most out of their education, even if they want to go pro. A college can’t just give a student-athlete money and expect them not to drop out in order to focus on their sport. These young adults are also learning how to get better at the sport in college so they can get recognized by professional coaches. After this is accomplished, it is fitting that the student can make it pro and make a living from their sport, instead of getting it before. They have to earn it. 

Some people believe that college athletes should get paid because of what they have to go through during their time at college. As stated by Brennan, “With many of the athletes coming from poor families, athletes are pressured by agents, alumni and fans to take compensation for their hard work. That is illegal under current rules. This raises the question, should college athletes be paid a stipend by the universities as compensation for participating in sports?” 

Although college athletes are struggling with their own issues and problems, that is a part of life everyone has to go through. Being a student-athlete is a conscious choice, not a right. Helping them financially will only weaken them when they are in that same situation again with no one to help them. They won’t know how to deal with it. Receiving this type of money in college will only make it harder for them in the future. Even though others think differently, it’s clear that college athletes getting paid isn’t a good decision to make. This action can change the way people think about sports in a negative way. 

Supplying college athletes money isn’t a good idea because the other students who had to pay for college without a scholarship won’t be fair to them, and these athletes are still learning how to be professionals in school. Afterall, college students are still adjusting in adulthood, paying them could change them and not for the better. If this pay for play takes effect in modern higher education, these college athletes could become bigger than professional athletes and celebrities, even though they are playing against other students who are struggling financially off the field or court. Also, most of these athletes won’t be playing at their full potential so the big leagues can recognize them because they are already getting recognized by being paid. 

College is for students to try and figure out their future. If they receive money in the process for having fun, they may not know how to handle it. To make sure college athletes don’t get paid, simply make a Tik Tok or youtube video about how paying college athletes  shouldn’t be allowed. Hopefully colleges will not buy into paying the athletes.

Samuel Mensah, 14, is a junior varsity football player enrolled in Ms.Twiggs’ English I course at Oakcrest High School. He is planning to pursue studies in engineering.

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