"It's grossly unacceptable and inappropriate to pay players ... converting them from students to employees" says NCAA President Mark Emmert in a recent USA Today article on the subject of paying college athletes. However, Emmert does admit, according to the piece, that "it's time for a serious discussion about whether and how to spread a little more of the largesse to those doing the playing and sweating."
The issue of paying college athletes, beyond their scholarship, has gained increased attention the past year or so. It was early December when I highlighted an article by Bill Plaschke from the L.A. Times on this same topic in my piece Should College Athletes Get Paid Beyond Scholarship? Bill Plaschke From the L.A. Times says NO, I AGREE!!!
In that article I discussed several nuances that, to me, weigh heavily against "paying" college athletes; not the least of which is the idea of athletes just working to be the best they can be for the sheer self-satisfaction that that brings. I then offered Bill Plaschke's article as support and identification of various other issues paying college athletes would bring to the table.
Decision makers need to realize that giving incentives beyond scholarship, a "salary," would terribly undermine where an athlete's primary focus should be, as it could, very easily, become ALL about the money. You know, bringing more "what's in it for me" type of attitudes into college sports--as if we don't have enough of that already, right?
Of course I am sympathetic to the issue at hand. The one where enormous amounts of money (we are talking multi-millions here) that a few college sports (football & basketball) bring to their schools and to the NCAA itself. In addition, the amount of money some coaches receive, millions again, in comparison to the scholarship the athletes they are coaching receive. And lastly, the merchandising and commercialization of accomplished high profile athletes whose notoriety afford schools, and others, the ability to make huge $$$$'s off of the efforts these athletes put in, and accomplishments they garner, while the athletes themselves receive none of the immediate financial benefits.
When one looks at this issue through strictly an ethical "business" lens (is there one of those?), it certainly does appear that some athletes are being exploited for the financial gain of others. However, that is not the only perspective one can or should take.
In my mind, there is a much bigger picture trumping the business lens viewpoint depicted above. This viewpoint comes from a more simplistic approach, one that does not weigh benefits in dollars and cents but in internal value to the athlete. You know, the self-satisfaction I mentioned above.
Oh wait, I can hear the objectors now, "self-satisfaction doesn't pay the rent." Well, actually, indirectly it does as it brings with it a slew of other intrinsic components--commitment, discipline, inner will & determination, perseverance, heart, a strong work ethic, etc., that does increase the opportunity for consistent financial prosperity. And not just in the short term but throughout one's life. They are the kind of transferrable life lessons that no amount of money can buy.
Don't miss Part II of NCAA President Mark Emmert Addresses The "Paying College Athletes" Issue as we take this conversation to the next level on Friday.