National television. Bright fluorescent-lit nights. Thousands of fans packed into bowl-shaped stadiums. These are but a few of the perks of playing high-level college sports. Whether it be football, basketball, or baseball, college athletes appear to be living a life in the fast lane. It is curious then for one to comprehend how or why a college should begin paying its’ student-athletes.

Every winter, colleges dish out large sums of money in scholarships for future athletes to come to their schools. As a result, athletes are exempt from paying for a portion of–in some cases, all of–their education cost: “It should also be said that these athletes are getting a free education, free living, and food.  The cost of this is significant,” sports agent Gary Glick told Philadelphia Sports Nation. Scholarship funding removes the burden of having to pay off loans for years in the future.

While colleges earn colossal amounts of cash from athletics, it is theoretically impossible for them to pay all of their student-athletes. The average college has around 400 student athletes, ranging from football to rowing and everything in between: “ Where would the pay be cut off? Women’s softball? Rodeo?  Who gets paid and who doesn’t?  That then brings up the issue of which players get paid.  Does the university pay all the players on the football team or just those that bring in the revenue,” Glick mentions. Paying 400-plus athletes would severely cut into a college’s overall revenue. Allowing even some of these athletes to be paid would open up a slimy can of worms, forcing colleges to draw a controversial line between who es paid and who doesn’t. The result: pure bedlam for all parties involved.

Picture this: a 20-year old marketing icon occupied by college studies, athletic commitments, and studying. Busy at all hours, he is unable to work to make any substantial spending money. In a perfect world, his athlete would be able to use his public figure to earn money through appearances, autographs, and memorabilia. This “icon” is Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, who was recently suspended for selling autographs for money. The NCAA currently enforces strict legislation against earning money through branding, legislation that must be repealed: “I never saw evidence proving the allegations against him and I wouldn’t be opposed to a player having the right to earn money from sponsorships or any other income derived from his name,” Glick declared. While colleges shouldn’t have to pay their athletes, the NCAA must at minimum allow them to make their own money. This way, athletes can still experience the joys and lessons of earning and managing their own money, something that makes a huge difference in their young lives: “Yeah, I mean I think any amount of money would make a difference. You know, for me personally, if I had a little bit more money, it would mean I could go home a little more often,” University of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota told Dan Patrick of NBC Sports.

While college athletes live a seemingly opulent life, allowing them to earn and manage money helps them feel at home with their fellow students. In their world of stardom, it is important for them to simply be college kids.

Photo: Getty Images

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