By Matt Markus
College Sports Journal
BETHLEHEM, PA. — Count Time Magazine among the ranks of entities that are lobbying for collegiate student-athletes to get paid.
A September cover story uses Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel as an example of what is wrong with NCAA athletics.
One could write an entire column on the fact that Johnny Manziel himself is bad for business, but the Time piece paints him as a victim, a victim of the big, bad NCAA who to this point does not allow for payments due to the athletic exploits of student-athletes.
It is mind-boggling how anyone could make an argument that college players get “nothing”.
If you look at the total cost to attend Georgetown, Duke, Stanford, USC, Miami and Notre Dame, the average is $36,000 per year.
Over a four-year college career, that becomes $144,000 on average to attend those schools.
We all know that the very best student-athletes rarely stay for four years, but it is their decision to turn down the opportunity.
Student athletes on scholarship are potentially able to save $144,000 to play a sport and earn a college degree if they choose.
The money listed above covers tuition, room and board and also takes care of a meal plan and very often even covers books needed for class.
The student athlete has a roof over their head, food in their belly and the tools to learn.
They pay nothing for this while “regular students” go deep into debt for the same benefits.
I have the pleasure of traveling with a women’s college basketball team as their play-by-play radio announcer. I have never seen these players without their school-issued basketball gear, whether in a game, practice or on the bus.
Numerous shorts and shirts, sweatpants and sweatshirts are part of the perks of being a student athlete.
If the need arises for breakfast, we stop. Lunch, we stop. Dinner, we stop. If the “need” arises for a trip for frozen yogurt, we stop for that too.
Never are the student-athletes asked to take out their wallets -nor should they, they have earned it.
Student athletes have access to better facilities to practice and to train. They have access to an advisory staff to help with homework, and a sports medicine staff to help with injuries.
Regular students who want to play a pick-up basketball game must do so on sub-standard courts and are on their own if they are injured.
These luxuries add up.
If a student-athlete leaves after their freshman year, you could easily make the case that they received $50,000 worth of luxuries and benefits. If they stay for four years, that becomes $200,000.
Maybe it’s not a check for that amount in their pocket but when you factor in the lack of debt upon graduation, it is worth so much more.
The argument many make is “what happens if we get hurt and we can’t go pro?”
Well, what happens if the rocket science whiz gets into an accident and is unable to work at NASA upon graduation? Should all students get six-figure deals in college just in case things don’t work out?
What about the college football star who is being used by the NCAA to make money?
Well, what about the college football player who is only a star because the NCAA provides a way for them to be known?
People may tune into a game because they know someone is playing but people may also know who is playing because they were able to tune in.
Perhaps both sides are profiting off each other. Would Tim Tebow have been so marketable upon graduation were it not for the exposure that he received on the grandest of stages?
Everybody needs a couple bucks in their pocket. But if the main argument for paying college players is so that they can take their girl out to a movie after the game on Saturday night, come up with a better argument.
Poor college students all across the country struggle to buy their girls flowers but they figure out a way to get it done. Why should someone get a leg up just because they can run a 4.4 40 or bring down 12 rebounds a game?
Athletes are permitted to get part-time jobs. Maybe you won’t make a lot of money because of time constraints, but with all of the amenities listed above, how much do you really need?
You don’t have to pay for food, clothing, books or school. You can even probably pocket a few bucks to buy your mom something nice for her birthday.
Also, why is all of the talk about football and men’s basketball?
What about the multiple-time national champions in water polo or women’s volleyball? What about the All-American wrestlers or tennis players?
That is where the slope gets the most slippery. Every school and every sport must be equal or it does not work.
A final thought on Johnny Manziel – Time Magazine could not have chosen a worse poster boy for their argument.
First of all, if you think paying athletes would stop them from making more money on the side, you are foolish.
Thinking that a small stipend for Manziel would have kept him from trying to make money signing autographs is a bit naïve. The best thing to keep players from breaking rules is to actually have a conscience, not a lessening the rules.
Furthermore, Johnny Manziel is rich – his family is quite wealthy from the oil industry. He has money and still wanted to get more from the autograph brokers. So much for the poor student-athlete that can’t afford flowers for his girlfriend.
If you really want to tug on the heart strings, try not to paint Johnny Manziel as a victim. At least wait until he is forced to sit in the 3rd row of a Miami Heat playoff game because the front row tickets weren’t available.
It would be just about as effective as trying to paint Johnny Football as a victim of the whole process.