OPINION: NCAA should pay its athletes

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OPINION: NCAA should pay its athletes

By Henry DeWitt, Sports Editor

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The National Collegiate Athletic Association is the most American organization in the country, if you believe America was founded on the exploitation of minorities.

In late September, California passed a bill that will allow for college athletes to profit off their name and personal likeness. This is quite possibly one of the most no-brainer acts of legislation in recent memory. This bill gives athletes the ability to get money for their own self image, like every other human being in the country.

“I think it’s been long overdue to give student-athletes the same opportunities that general students possess,” KU coach Bill Self told reporters of the bill.

Somehow, this bill is still controversial. Somehow, people believe players shouldn’t be allowed to profit off their own names and images because they are talented at sports.

However, this bill is only a first step. At some point in the future, preferably in the near future, college athletes need to be paid.

To some, that might sound like a bold statement. But it shouldn’t be. At all. Some people believe what the NCAA says about paying college athletes. And to be honest, it is hard not to. When people hear that the athletes are being paid in education, or that it is important to preserve amateurism in college athletics, it seems logical. But in execution, it is completely immoral and backwards.

The NCAA is firm on three big things: athletes cannot receive compensation, accept gifts or profit off their likeness (what California is changing). If they fail to meet these requirements, they can be suspended, stripped of their scholarships and even kicked out of school.

These athletes often have to go to sleep hungry because they don’t have any source of income.”

The first violation is compensation. Athletes cannot get paid. If you believe that education is fair compensation, this violation might make sense. However, according to the National College Players Association, 86 percent of college athletes live below the poverty line. So when many of these student athletes are being pulled from low income homes, an education cannot keep the water running in their homes. An education cannot buy them food.

“There are hungry nights that I go to bed, and I’m starving,” Shabazz Nabier, a former UConn guard, told reporters  after winning the NCAA championship.

These athletes often have to go to sleep hungry because they don’t have any source of income. So what if a fan offers them a sandwich because they haven’t eaten in some cases days? NCAA violation.

Athletes cannot accept gifts. What if a college athlete is getting married? They better not have a regular wedding with a guest registry because that would be an NCAA violation, as was the case with Kyle Guy, former Virginia Cavalier.

The ability to profit off your name or personal likeness just means the ability to receive money from something sold under your name. This includes brand deals, sponsorships and even college sports video games. If a college student sold a poster of the basketball team at a basketball game, the student selling the poster would be paid more money from the university than the players whose faces are plastered on the poster.

However, when a college athlete gets a career-ending injury, at least they have their education. Except that’s not true. If an already low-income student athlete were to sustain a severe injury, they would have to pay for their own medical bills because the NCAA made it so schools don’t have to compensate for injuries. Also, the NCAA is within its rights to completely revoke scholarships at any time because the production on the field is not there. So now the already poor student athlete is having to pay for not only their medical bills but now their college tuition. This cycle often leads to talented athletes dropping out of school because they are not rich enough to pay for their school without the scholarships they were promised, as was the case with Kyle Hardrick who was stripped of his full ride scholarship after tearing his ACL his freshman year.

It is clear that the NCAA cares more about the product on the field than the actual athletes themselves. They have shown that year after year, and they will continue to prove that until people stop believing the lies and deception that they preach.

Next time you put money on your March Madness Bracket realize that you just bet more money than that star college athlete is allowed to make in all of their college career. It could have helped keep their parents lights on for the month. And maybe they might not be performing to your standards because they haven’t eaten in days.

But, hey, at least they have an education.