Jordan Bolton is a freshman business & English major at MU. He is an opinions columnist who writes about politics for The Maneater.
Sports are one of the hallmarks of a good college experience, and college athletes are treated as celebrities in their own right and for good reason. College sports rake in $12 billion annually thanks to these athletes, and the NCAA has made, on average, $814 million each year for the past nine years. There is a lot of money to be made in college sports, that is, unless you are an athlete. The NCAA prevents universities like MU from paying athletes for playing at their schools. The argument is that this policy prevents wealthy schools from “buying” athletes. Yet, the players would benefit from surplus funds since many scholarships are not full-ride scholarships. Without the extra funds, this situation creates a serious struggle for college athletes as they have to balance education and athletics in order to maintain scholarships. College athletes are essentially working two full-time jobs. NCAA rules restrict athletes' time spent on their particular sports to 20 hours of mandatory practice per week. However, a recent study shows that trends amongst college athletes do not follow the NCAA guidelines. Athletes may spend up to 50 hours a week — more than an average work week — on their sport alone, and they aren’t even paid for it. Opponents to the idea of paying college athletes may argue that these students are paid in the form of scholarships, which would suffice as their salary. However, there are a lot of issues with this line of thinking. For starters, scholarships do not always cover the entire cost of college. In addition, these scholarships only cover students so long as they play for the school. One can argue that with the exponential growth of tuition that the partial scholarships simply do not help cover enough of the costs. Sometimes scholarships are the only way athletes can justify even attending college, which can put them in a desperate situation financially. College athletes often face injuries or other instances that may prevent them from playing, whereas an outright salary for students would allow these individuals to save or invest their money in case of an accident. The NCAA makes billions off these young and talented athletes. But it's important to remember that these people aren’t just athletes, they are students too. College athletes face the same burdens other students do with school, on top of a 40-hour work week. While these athletes allow organizations and colleges to make millions off of their abilities, they aren’t paid a cent. While college scholarships are certainly nice and cover a good chunk of the cost of college, I think it is about time that we let student athletes choose to reap the monetary benefits of their talent, both in and outside of the university environment.