The dangers of paying college athletes


Kain Colter is the leader of the Northwestern football team's unionization movement. (MCT Campus)

Kyle Sommerfield

Kain Colter is the leader of the Northwestern football team's unionization movement.  (MCT Campus)
Kain Colter is the leader of the Northwestern football team’s unionization movement. (MCT Campus)

The Northwestern football team has shaken up the world of college sports.  On March 26, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that the team’s players have the right to unionize.  The unionization movement, led by former quarterback Kain Colter, has been ongoing for some time now and will likely remain a controversial topic for a while.

If the team’s players vote to unionize, the school will be forced to negotiate benefits for the players.  While this doesn’t totally eliminate the notion that a college athlete is an amateur, it certainly deals a great blow to that designation.

This decision brings up a very important question:  will there be a day when it is common practice for universities to pay their athletes?

Over the past few years, more and more people have been calling for student-athletes to receive paychecks, mostly citing the huge amount of money the players make for the school.  But although Johnny Manziel and Jadeveon Clowney brought in big bucks for their schools, they aren’t being totally left out to dry.

They received full scholarships to attend universities that many families can’t afford.  Some players receive degrees from top 20 universities solely because of their athletic talent.  It seems like an alarming amount of people are seriously underestimating the value of a degree from schools like Stanford or Notre Dame.

If players are going to start being paid, they need to start being considered employees of their universities.  That means they are no longer students.  And that means they don’t receive a degree from the university.

Paying college athletes puts the sanctity of college sports in jeopardy.  The concept of a student-athlete is that academics come first, then athletics.  That’s why it’s so disturbing when people forget the value of a college education.

For the large majority of college athletes who pursue careers outside of college sports, a degree is the most valuable asset their college can provide them.  Unfortunately, that fact is widely considered irrelevant today.