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Why Pay For Play Will Not Work In College Athletics

1000 words - 4 pages

Paying college athletes has gained national attention over the past few months due to the Northwestern University football team’s challenge to unionize, but it is not a new debate. As early as 1936, “the Howard University football team struck for several games, demanding adequate medical supplies for players, nutritional food, and access to campus jobs”(Fram and Frampton 2). Colleges are responsible for the welfare of their athletes, and through membership in the NCAA are required to provide for the athletes. These protections given to the players eliminate the need for unionizing. College athletes should not be paid, and to do so would disrupt the delicate balance of athletic departments.
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Players that are financially eligible also apply for and receive Pell Grants and other need based financial aid to offset the cost of attendance. Much is expected from athletes in return for their scholarships. Most football and basketball players spend over 40 hours per week during the season practicing, working out and playing in games (Edelman 77). Athletes would have very little or no time to work a job, but the funds available to them are sufficient to cover almost any expenses they have.
If college athletes were allowed to unionize it would present several issues for schools and athletes. Would all sports be allowed to unionize to maintain equity or only profitable sports? Universities and athletes could face new tax liabilities. An athlete’s scholarship could be considered taxable income, by the IRS, if they were considered an employee. Universities would be responsible for payroll taxes and workers comp insurance. If athletes are employees they also may become subject to termination based on underperforming (Longman 2). Coaches would not want to continue to pay a player that is not meeting expectations. Universities would have to potentially face collective bargaining from multiple sports teams. In contrast, professional sports owners join together to negotiate with players unions from a single sports league (Parasuraman 746).
One of the most concerning issues would be the effect on Title IX. Title IX became law in 1972, it requires schools to provide equal access to education and athletics for both sexes (Longman 1). Colleges and universities currently use funds from revenue generating sports to support additional sports programs. In the majority of athletic departments, only football and men’s basketball are self-supported with their excess revenue used to support other men’s and women’s sports (Longman 2). If players in revenue sports were paid, how would schools pay for the other sports programs? Without these additional sports colleges and universities would be unable to provide sufficient amounts of scholarships for female athletes to offset the scholarships...

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