Typical Schedule for a College Athlete
5:30 – Wake up
6:00 – 7:45 Weight lifting and conditioning
8:00 – 12:00 – Class
12:15 – 12:30 Eat at the cafeteria
12:30 – 1:00 – Film with coaches
1:00 – 2:00 Go to the trainer
2:30 – 3:00 – Meetings
3:00 – 5:30 – Practice
6:00 – 6:30 – Eat at the cafeteria
7:00 – 9:00 – Study Hall and tutors
I was an athlete for 12 years. 4 of those years, I was a college athlete in a big-time conference (The Big 12). The other 8 of those years, I was working towards getting there. 8 years of work got me a free education, but it didn’t come without cost. Should college athletes get paid? Absolutely, and here’s why.
1. A college athlete spends on average 43.4 hours per week dedicated to their sport. That is more than the average 9 to 5 job, which is 40 hours a week. Athletes don’t get paid for these hours, and guess what isn’t included in these hours? School! I used to laugh at the quote “Student athlete; student comes first.” BS. If you get a D on a test but are performing on the court/field, guess who doesn’t care? Your coach. Outside of these 43.3 hours dedicated to athletics, you have to go to class, study, go to group projects, talk to your less-than-willing to cooperate teachers to coordinate make up tests, go to tutors, go to recruiting dinners, etc. If a student is in 5 classes, that’s an average of 50 hours a week of class and time spent doing school work. So the grand total is 93.3 hours per week of work. Not only is all this work intellectually demanding, it is physically demanding as well.
2. College Athletes are Sacrificing more than just their time. College athletes sacrifice so much to perform at a high level. They sacrifice their bodies. You only have one body for the rest of your life, so taking care of it is crucial. I had three sport-induced surgeries by the age of 21; 2 on my knee and 1 on my hip. I can’t sit comfortably with my legs bent too long. I can’t sit in class without having hip pain. I have a lot of pain due to volleyball, and it’s not even a contact sport. In addition to their body, student athletes sacrifice job experience that their competitors are getting. Volleyball was my job in high school; I was working out and practicing every week night and every weekend in order to get a full-ride scholarship to college. Once I got to college, I was spending my 93.3 hours a week in practice and school, allowing no time to get an internship or job of any kind. Meanwhile, my future competition in the job market is getting job experience that will put them ahead of me. I’ll never forget being in class my senior year and my teacher asking, “who of you had internships this summer?” There were only 2 people in the whole class who didn’t raise their hands; me and the only other student athlete in the class. Panic set in.. life as I knew it (volleyball) was coming to an end and I had no experience in the real world. Not only are athletes missing out on job experience, but they have no way of making money during their collegiate years. Luckily for me, my school gives us a hefty stipend, in addition to the money my parents give me. But a lot of people, especially those who don’t play in a big conference, aren’t as lucky and unless their parents are wealthy and willing to hand them money, they have no way to get an income. By definition, a job is a paid position of regular employment. The only thing missing that prevents college athletics from being a job is the pay. The student is working 6 days of the week to bring money in for the organization (the school). Why don’t they get any of the revenue?
3. College athletics brings in huge sums of money for the school. The NCAA takes in about $11 billion each year. I’m not going to sit here and pretend like volleyball, or even any women’s sports for that matter, bring in a huge chunk of money for their school. But for men’s football and basketball, especially at big time universities, the numbers are mind-blowing. The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament makes over $1 billion dollars every year. And the athletes that are actually playing in the games get none of that. They don’t even get any money from jersey sales; fans are buying their jersey, with their name on it, and they don’t get a single penny. People rush to stores to get the newest copy of the college football video game, and the players don’t even get a copy for free. If the college sports apparel market capitalizes on specific players, I think those players can reap some of the benefits. Paying athletes a small portion of the revenue is only fair, and there is a way to do it. Pay a certain percentage of the revenue brought in by that athlete’s particular sport. If certain sports don’t bring in much revenue, tough luck for those athletes. But if an athlete is part of a championship team and is making their University 100’s of millions of dollars every year, I think they deserve some of that cash.
Though it sounds like I’m complaining, I promise I’m not. I loved being a college athlete. It allowed me to travel across the world, it allowed me to compete, and most importantly it introduced me to people that I will be friends with forever. But that doesn’t mean that I think the system is perfect, and I want people to realize that these athletes are working hard to represent their school, and they deserve a cut of the profit.