Today's blog was written by Robert Dean. Robert is a senior Biology major at the University of Notre Dame and a student in the Social Foundations of Coaching course taught by Play Like a Champion Today Founding Director Professor Clark Power and Program Director Kristin Sheehan. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author, and not of the Play Like a Champion Today Program.
As an incoming freshman I remember supporting the idea of paying collegiate athletes. Having researched the revenue that major sports programs generate, I was adamant about the idea of sharing this income with the athletes that provide the “entertainment” that people pay to watch. I believed that schools were essentially robbing their athletes of a significant amount of money that they deserved, and were exploiting them in what I deemed to be an archaic system.
|photo courtesy of forbes.com|
Yet, four years later I could not disagree with my younger-self more. I firmly believe that collegiate athletes receive benefits that far exceed the necessary obligation of their respective universities. By attending some of the most prestigious universities in the country, collegiate athletes are given myriad opportunities. Not only do they obtain an education that will provide them with knowledge and experiences to last a lifetime, but they will also have the opportunity to develop friendships and other relationships. Finally, and most importantly, attending college provides eighteen year old adolescents the opportunity to mature both athletically and personally. Through the guidance of coaches and teachers around them, college provides athletes an invaluable growth opportunity. The combination of these experiences far exceeds any monetary reward that the universities could ever provide, and also helps to make each athlete into a better member of society.
|photo courtesy of nytimes.com|
However, I must also note that I believe that the debate surrounding paying college athletes directly coincides with the argument involving when to allow student-athletes to become professional athletes. While I believe that collegiate athletes do not need to receive additional monetary benefits, I also believe that athletes should be allowed the opportunity to turn professional in any sport prior to college. If a high-schooler is talented enough to play a professional sport, and also has no interest in furthering themselves through the college experience, the laws of sports should not prevent them from living out their dreams. I believe that athletes should be allowed to become a professional prior to college, but once they are committed to competing collegiately they should be forced to finish their degree before they are allowed to become professional. In this system, athletes would be forced to either completely engage themselves in the collegiate experience and earn a degree, or chose to not play a collegiate sport.