Don’t kid yourself; college athletics are not pure. They are not always fair, either.

For years, the debate surrounding whether to play players has raged on with no simple solutions in sight.

Athletes argue scholarships are not enough considering universities and other entities make millions and sometimes billions of dollars off their efforts. The NCAA responds that access to an education and a platform to display their talents for potential future employers is an adequate trade-off.

It is a controversy for the ages, and regardless of its eventual outcome, the opinions of most will remain unswayed.

Clearly, the hard work of student-athletes across the nation is producing cash, and lots of it. Whether on the football field or basketball court, where most financial gains are made, or in swimming pools and on softball diamonds, there is lots of money to be made, and the avenues are being exploited to their fullest.

Merchandise, television and video game rights, ticket sales and other revenue generated at games, such as concessions, all contribute to the issue.

So it would only seem right for athletes to reap some of the rewards. Right?


Despite being portrayed as a realm dedicated to remaining true to its amateur roots, college athletics morphed into a corporate entity, and nothing is more important than the bottom line.

NCAA bigwigs will always preach the true benefit of athletics is found in the life skills they teach, such as leadership, cooperation, dedication and sacrifice of self to commit to a common goal. In reality, however, athletes are merely a product, and people have to accept that fact.

While the money created through college sports is astounding, the NCAA is not going to simply give it away. Regardless of opposing opinions, those in power believe the trade-off is sufficient. They know athletes will continue to clamor for spots on collegiate rosters without receiving a cent.

Therefore, they will continue to take advantage of that, which is what smart businesspeople do.

For all the talk about why athletes should be paid, there is no fair way to do so. Should football players get paid based on the massive amount of attention and income they receive while cross-country runners are left out of the equation?

Should all athletes get a slice of the pie? If so, wouldn’t that create a number of problems? Yes, considering not all sports are responsible for producing the majority of income.

Then there is the ultimate question: How much money do athletes deserve?

There are no clear-cut answers on how to proceed, and most likely there never will be a general consensus on this topic.

College athletics should be accepted for what they are — a means of preparing or improving oneself for a professional career in sports or as a way to cut down on the costs of attending a university.

Let’s be honest. There are two types of athletes: Those who can potentially play at the next level and those who can’t.

For those who see a professional future in sports, there is no better place to get groomed than a big-time college campus that provides all the bells and whistles any 20-year-old could wish for. If they take full advantage of the opportunity, their payoff will come when they sign their first contract.

For the others, they get to enjoy the experience of being treated like a professional athlete while also earning an education that will hopefully lead to the career of their dreams in whatever profession they choose.

College athletes will most likely never get the money they desire. They will continue to be exploited by universities and some will play under multimillionaire coaches, viewing firsthand the lavish lifestyles they helped create. They will continue to sweat and bleed for their sports while watching stores on campus sell their jerseys and never once pocket any of that profit from their labor.

Simply put, it is time to accept the fact that life is not fair and neither are college athletics.

Contact Clay Whittington at

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