Sports

Opinion: Athletes don't need to be paid

HS journalism: College athletes get plenty of compensation

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

NORTH LIBERTY — Each year there is a “once in a generation” athlete who comes out of high school and everyone in the country wants him/her to represent their college or university in their specific sport.

Some of these athletes are wanting to be paid when their likeness, or name, is used. “Likeness” is when a brand, or school, uses their name or picture to earn monetary funds through advertisements.

Some college athletes want to be paid to play their sport.

“I think they should be paid,” said former NFL player Patrick Kerney.

Some of these big-name athletes are upset and frustrated they aren’t getting paid but, in reality, most of them have received full-ride scholarships, which could be viewed as a form of payment for their performance. Having zero debt coming out of college is a big deal, not to mention the possibly of going professional and being paid millions and millions of dollars.

When colleges and/or universities sell jerseys or shirts with an image of these players, the money goes to the school. These funds go into improving facilities, paying coaches and continuing to advance the athletic programs.

When an athlete commits to a school, they become a part of it. The athletes chose that school because they liked it more than others in the recruiting process. The schools have a right to the athletes’ likeness because they committed to playing for that school.

“I don’t think athletes are being exploited,” said Judy Rose, athletics director at the University of North Carolina. “I think there’s a symbiotic relationship there. Without the university platform for them to compete, there is no exposure for them. None. So that experience alone and that opportunity creates the platform for them, for visibility.

“I just think the money issue has clouded what the real purpose is, regardless of where the money is coming from and how much is coming in. I want the whole story to be told about the value of an education and put dollars to that.”

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Concurrent with this argument is whether or not schools should profit from sports games such as NCAA 14. Even though it is seven years old, the game still is popular and relevant today. However, Electronic Arts (EA) had to discontinue the series in 2014, because players were unhappy they were not being paid for their representation in the game. Some collegiate athletes have taken EA to court over this and won, and EA had to pay millions.

There is a lawsuit known as the “Ed O’Bannon case.” O’Bannon was a former UCLA basketball player who filed a lawsuit against the NCAA and EA. He argued student-athletes should be compensated when their likeness is used in video games. O’Bannon won the case and EA had to set aside $40 million in a class-action suit.

To me, suing a company that puts you in a video game is ridiculous because who doesn’t want to be in a video game? I would consider being in the game as extra media coverage, making me more employable and desirable to professional leagues and other potential sponsors.

This was not illegal either. EA had to email or go to schools to get their permission to have specific college team in the game. Former collegiate athletes have sued EA for their character “look(ing) too much like themselves.” The case ended with the players winning and EA paying millions. From my perspective, EA was simply doing its job.

Paying all these athletes is not going to be cheap. The result is the school will probably have to raise tuition and sports paraphernalia costs in order to break even. They might even have to discontinue some sports.

“There’s no more money,” University of Texas athletics director Steve Patterson said. “Everybody is working as hard as they can to generate as much revenue as humanly possible and all, but a handful of schools operate in the red.”

When you are in a collegiate sport, you also get many bonuses. The amount of gear you get is insane — shoes, gloves and accessories. All free. On top of that, you receive all the apparel. Then if your team does make it to a bowl game, you get even more gifts.

You get to practice and play in top-of-the-line facilities. If college athletes were being paid, schools wouldn’t be able to do some of the renovations.

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College athletes wanting to be paid is like a slap in the face to the college. You are a college athlete. You don’t go to college to get paid — you go to college to get an education and a degree.

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