Northwest Missourian Opinion

The usual “college athletes shouldn’t be paid” arguments will be ramping up as a result of SB 206, the Fair Pay to Play Act, aimed at allowing college athletes to make money while playing college sports

“It’s the beginning of the end of college sports,” “kids these days are too entitled” and “don’t they get paid in a scholarship?” all will be heard in between complaints about how there are no more NCAA football games. 

The bill is not trying to bring about the rapture on college sports; it’s giving college athletes a fundamental American right that they have been denied.

The ability to make money off of one’s own likeness is a right that nearly every American today besides college athletes have. It can be as simple as monetizing a Youtube channel to make ad revenue or using Instagram to market a certain company. 

The bill, which was passed unanimously in both California state houses, does not go so far as to force colleges to pay student-athletes a salary. It will just give them the fundamental freedom to make money off of their hard work — something the NCAA did to the tune of more than $1 billion in 2016-2017, according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell. 

One of the key arguments against paying college athletes is how the pie will be divided up. 

The sports that rake in more money would get paid more which could raise some Title IX issues when it comes to unequal pay between genders. The Fair Pay to Play Act will not be affected by this because the schools themselves would not be supplying the money; it would come from outside sources. 

SB 206 does not just aid big Division I athletes either. College athletes at smaller schools like Northwest could appear in local advertisements for area businesses and get compensation for their participation. 

“They get a scholarship; that’s their payment,” many opposed to paying college athletes will say. The average scholarship for men in Division II Athletics was $6,211 and a bit higher for women at $7,558 during the 2017 fiscal school year, according to Scholarship Stats. 

Varying sports can have wide ranges of money given to athletes, but even when using the average cost, it normally won’t even support a semester at college much less a year. Northwest estimates the cost to attend with room and board in state and take 30 credit hours at $19,861. The average scholarships do not close in on half of that cost. 

Another argument against SB 206 is that it will make recruiting unfair and that certain schools will be able to use marketing opportunities to leverage students. Spoiler alert: recruiting is not fair to begin with. 

Schools have varying amounts of athletic donors, varying quality in facilities and varying degrees of success in program history, not to mention those pesky bag men that have been found paying players on athletic departments’ orders. No matter how hard the NCAA tries, recruiting will never be an even playing field, and athletes should be able to make the decision of where to play based on their ability to market themselves.

The Fair Pay to Play Act is not the doom and gloom of college sports. It's giving a small amount of power back to the workers who keep the system working. That’s not entitlement — that’s capitalism. College athletes should be allowed to profit off of their skills and not be punished for wanting to use them.

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