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Why paying college athletes is a bad idea

By Andrew Geisler
On October 20, 2011

Recently, in the screwed up world of college athletics, there has been a push by many to begin paying the athletes. Pundits, surprisingly, and players, obviously, seem to have almost universally accepted the idea that college athletes in some way should be compensated for their service to the university, or to at least be allowed to profit off their celebrity status on their own. 

However, in my view, the moment the rules allow college athletes to profit in any way other than a free education during their time as a student athlete will be the beginning of the end of college athletics, as we know it.

There are so many problems with the idea of paying college athletes; I won't even be able to name all of them here. The first and main issue is that it is inherently unfair to pay certain athletes and members of teams more than others. 

Sure, the football team generally brings in more revenue for the school than the volleyball team, but that's why NFL players make millions and there is no major professional volleyball league to speak of.  Picking one sport over another is fine when you're working in the free market as an economic and entertainment entity, as professional sports teams and leagues do. But there is value in an institution of higher education democratizing their athletic department.

You see, you simply cannot give players a full ride scholarship, which in my estimation is payment enough, and then cut checks to certain players on certain teams just because they bring in a lot of money to the university. 

These people are already getting a free education and sure they give up having a regular college life to play the sport, but honestly, they're already getting paid with the full ride.

Plus, the goals of a college and a professional sports team should be 100 percent different; pro sports teams are trying to provide entertainment and hopefully make a profit. Colleges are trying to provide a quality education to their students.

Sports can be a legitimate aspect of the educational process. And while this is truer with respect to lower levels like high schools, it's still a valid point and paying athletes would make the players professionals. When sports become a business, the educational value is gone and profits truly do become king, which, as a side note, is why players shouldn't be allowed to go out and sell their jerseys and the like for their own financial gain. It's too much of a slippery slope when amateurism is mixed with business practices.

In fact, college football and basketball already have moved too far in the business direction; some may in fact argue that profits already are king. And this shift is used as fuel for those in favor of paying college athletes, but that's really just giving up. Why give up on something as important as college sports just to allow it to become a farm system to the pros by giving the players a measly cut of the pie?

Really though, if you're going to start paying college football players, they might as well not even be connected to the colleges. They should just follow the baseball model. 

In baseball, you can either go right out of high school with basically no chance to play in the majors right away and develop yourself with other kids your age, all while making horrible money and getting no education. Or you can play college baseball and get an education with the intelligent foresight that chances are you aren't the next Alex Rodriguez.

Honestly, that makes sense, if players want to make measly money and spurn an education, let them eat cake.

The problem though is this, college and Triple-A baseball attendance numbers suck. And 100,000 plus people come to see teams like the University of Michigan and Ohio State University play on any given Saturday. 

People just aren't going to have the same connection to the New York Giants farm team the Scranton Scrappers (you may laugh but that's the kinds of names these teams get and the type of places they go) as they do to the place that they enjoyed some of the best years of their lives.  That's what makes college sports awesome for people. That's why they care. 

Ruining that system would be a shame, especially when the only reason people want to ruin it is out of pure regulatory laziness. The idea that the college athletics system is so out of control that no one can save it is just not something I can accept.

The NCAA should crack down harder on the players who break the rules. Coaches should be fired on the spot when they show tendencies towards rule breaking in any way and the fans should not accept anything else. Because if and when they do, the games they love will just no longer be the same and that's a damn shame.


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