Student athletes should be satisfied with the benefits they already receive instead of pandering for more.
More often than not, universities and colleges are most known to the public by their respective sports teams. The mention of the University of Texas brings about thoughts of burnt orange uniforms and multiple sports dynasties and less so of their academic prowess. College athletics is not necessarily a bad thing, as it often gets kids interested in attending college. However, it can also cause colleges to care more about having a high winning percentage than having a high graduation percentage.
Unfortunately, this mindset is beginning to cause incoming student athletes to have a sense of entitlement. No longer is getting a full ride to school good enough. It seems to be a sad truth that many athletes being recruited by schools receive “gifts” that tend to either come in a briefcase or a checkbook or need a key to start. Not only is this under-the-table business a violation of NCAA recruitment rules, but it causes athletes to view themselves as just athletes and not students. Too many players seem to forget that the whole point of going to college is to get an education, not just to play sports.
Many athletes claim that the only reason they accept these “gifts” is they simply could not afford to support themselves through college. Call me crazy, but if students paying for their schooling all by themselves can find a way to support themselves through college, I highly doubt that someone on a full-ride scholarship cannot find a way to support themselves without breaking the rules. Yes, I do realize that many of these athletes do come from low-income households, but so do so many students who do not have the benefit of a scholarship. If you ask me, it is just the result of a young kid seeing dollar signs. I doubt many 18-year-old kids would turn down thousands of dollars.
Recently some student athletes felt so strongly that they weren’t receiving the proper benefits that they deserved that they requested to unionize. According to a March 26, 2014 New York Times article, a group of Northwestern football players were deemed employees and were given the right to unionize by the National Labor Relations Board. This ruling was called “disappointing” by the NCAA, and rightfully so. The ruling is basically saying that these football players are at school to play football, not to get an education. Most college athletes do not end up going pro in their respective sports, and if they put their athletics above their schooling, then their post-college life is going to be a difficult one.
The NCAA is by no means a perfect organization. They have profited for years by using players’ likenesses in video games, advertisements and apparel with the students receiving no compensation. This is one of the few areas where I do believe that student athletes should receive some compensation. If my school were making millions of dollars off my likeness, I would want a piece of that pie. I am not saying that I want some linebacker signing a million-dollar deal with Nike, but getting a percent or two of profits from products sold with their number or face on it is only fair.
When it really comes down to it, a student athlete is a student first and an athlete second. Getting a full-ride scholarship and the chance to get a quality education is a gift that many would certainly appreciate without requesting more. Perhaps schools should concentrate their scholarship funds on those students who would appreciate them more. Then maybe these benefit-seeking athletes will learn what school is really for.