Yes, it's up for debate yet again. Should college football players be paid? It's been brought up time and time again. The majority of coaches think it's a swell idea, but the NCAA still balks every time. So, with boosters running rampant and a renowned university about to bite the dust, the issue is no longer a question. Pay the athletes now.
First, student athletes do not have time to get a job. If they aren't doing something directly involved with their respective sport then they're studying...or at least they should be. And, while the offseason is up for debate, they are still training to stay in shape for their return when practice starts again.
Second, yes they are being compensated with an expensive education, but they are also putting their personal safety on the line...well, maybe not the golf team.
Third, you don't have to pay them a lot of money. Minimum wage would suffice. Then when they want a new pair of shoes, they aren't tempted by a booster. "Hey, Billy. Those shoes are looking ragged. Let me help you out." Or "Sorry, coach. I missed practice because I had to run out and buy diapers and formula, so I missed paying my light bill." Yeah, this does happen. And while it is a personal choice, they are still people who have obligations.
Fourth, we pay money to see these guys play. So even if you don't agree...you do agree when you buy the ticket, the pay-per-view, the cable or satellite package, the jersey or the coffee mug, etc., etc.
Fifth, back to personal safety. Some of these guys will never make that pro money. Some guys are injured so severely that they end up in wheelchairs, they lose use of a leg arm or sometimes both. Oh yeah, what about heat stroke? Players die each year from over exertion and the onslaught of dehydration in extreme heat. Then there is the actual trauma-related deaths. Sub-dermal hematomas, swelling of the brain, cardiac arrest and paralysis-related terminal illness.
So is $7.25 an hour still too much? What about hazard pay? Well, they have to be paid first, huh? According the U.S. Department of Labor, hazard pay is defined as this: "Hazard pay means additional pay for performing hazardous duty or work involving physical hardship. Work duty that causes extreme physical discomfort and distress which is not adequately alleviated by protective devices is deemed to impose a physical hardship."
Now, I don't know about you, but each season I see these overgrown kids wheeled out on gurneys, golf carts and standing on the side-line sporting casts and walking on crutches or being rushed to the hospital for MRIs. The protective equipment does the majority of the job, but they still suffer a lot of hardship to entertain us.
We know there are always going to be boosters standing in the shadows waiting to drop a handful of cash into some player's hand. We also know there will never be a shortage of players who will somehow find that money sitting in his or her pockets. But maybe, just maybe, if we pay them a small stipend, they won't be tempted so much.
And most of the universities can afford it. It would cost on average $785,000 to pay each player on a football team for the entire year. And while smaller schools could encounter budget issues paying their athletes, figure this: The schools already pad their tuition costs and receive tax breaks the likes of which are unheard of, so there's room. And even if there isn't they can raise the ticket prices a few bucks. I know I won't mind paying an extra five bucks if it means my favorite starting running back isn't tempted to take $20 from an unsavory hand because he needs to buy school supplies or a pizza.
But on the other hand, maybe they could take some of the billions of dollars generated annually from the revenue of broadcasting and merchandise marketing and spread that around. Wait...no, that would make too much sense.
So let's hear it, America. Should we pay em' or not? Explain.