Nate Jackson | Staff Writer
We have an opportunity in America that may be foreign to several other countries. It’s an economic and political system called capitalism. It enables its subjects to obtain the means to own and operate a business or corporation for their individual gain. Most recognize this freedom as the “American Dream” and in most cases, I would agree. But in other cases, this methodology has led to the disenfranchisement of a subset of our culture, and that’s where the buck has to stop.
Enter the NCAA, an association who has continuously produced a remarkable platform for college sports. In many occurrences, this platform has given the athletes an opportunity to pursue a career at the next level, and change the fabric of their families’ socioeconomic situations.
So why isn’t the NCAA a professional league of its own? Because of the conjecture of amateurism. Amateur competition is the foundation of athletics in the college realm.
Amateurism is heralded as “the central idea that people should not receive any material reward for taking part” in sports. It disallows athletes to be paid a salary for participating in athletics.
Most people, especially college athletes or people who are close to them, will acknowledge that the relationship between the NCAA and its athletes is cumbersome.
This especially became the case once the National Labor Relations Board ruled that athletes qualified as university employees, and Mark Emmert, the president of the NCAA, deemed the report “grossly inappropriate.” Even though Emmert recognizes that things must change, he believes that making athletes university employees “would blow up everything about the collegiate model of athletics.”
No other corporation in America would be allowed to prohibit its employees from exploiting their true market value. The only association that has been able to pull that off is the NCAA, all under the guise of amateurism.
Most would argue that they’re being compensated through access to an education, without the burden of debt. But just to give you a better idea of how the scholarships really pan out, the average full athletic scholarship is worth approximately $23,204 per year. Since the NCAA restricts the compensation of the scholarship, its value is at or below the poverty level.
The amount of out-of-pocket expenses that a normal college student accumulates in a year ranges from $1,000 to $7,000. According to Business Insider, college athletes practice or train about 45 hours a week, in addition to about 40 hours of attending school and doing homework. Which leaves them no time to balance a job and actually puts them at a deficit.
Why should athletes continue to dedicate their college years to an association who isn’t willing to reconsider their structure in order to give them a fair shake? Maybe they shouldn’t. It’s a tough predicament to be in. Sometimes the road to accomplishing a lifelong dream is rugged and frustrating.
Is the reward truly worth the sacrifice? That’s for you to decide.
Featured Illustration: Antonio Mercado