Jordan Bean | Sacked
The debate goes on
Published: Monday, September 23, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 23, 2013 03:09
It’s often said that there are two sides to every story. Last Wednesday in my fellow columnist Aaron Leibowitz’s ‘The Fan,’ he presented a strong case in favor of paying college athletes. After reading it, I rethought why I felt the way I did and wanted to put that into writing to present my side to the story.
I believe there is a misconception between money saved and money given. At a university like Stanford, the estimated cost of attendance is slightly above $60,000. For a football player that is eligible to redshirt for a year and stays until graduation, the player will attend the school for five years.
A simple math operation leads us to conclude that there’s approximately $300,000 that did not have to come out of the student’s pocket. Was he given money? No, but it’s a cost that did not have to be paid because of his football talents.
Additionally, players at major football programs are given meals, snacks, nutritionists, trainers, medical experts and more. None of these are available in this manner to the general student body.
For every Andrew Luck and Johnny Manziel that generates millions of dollars of revenue for the university, there’s the backup left guard who is also on a full scholarship and needs to be paid for. This player costs the same amount of money to the university but, unlike the star quarterback, is not making the school money.
A common argument made is that the athletic departments report millions of dollars in revenue every year. The key word in this argument is revenue. To someone who says this, my answer is yes, it does generate a lot of revenue. As an aspiring economics major, though, the key number to look at is profit.
A recent study by USA Today indicates that of the 228 Div. I programs in the country, a mere 23 were able to break even in their expenses for the athletic department as a whole. Additionally, 16 of those 23 schools “received some type of subsidy,” according to this report.
Football is only one of many sports at a university. It has to pick up slack for all the other programs that are most likely hemorrhaging money and costing much more than they make. For every major football program, there’s a crew or fencing team that is relying on them for funding for their coaches, equipment, scholarships and other costs of the program.
Another important thing to note is the idea of Title IX in regards to this predicament. If you pay a football player, do you also have to pay the gymnast? Do you pay the female swimmer along with the star quarterback? Do you give them the same amount of money?
The myth is that the athletic departments are greedy corporations hoarding money from the athletes. The reality is that the universities provide a platform for which the athletes are able to showcase their talents. The school is assuming the risks and expenses for these athletes.
In exchange for their performance on the field, athletes are given free tuition, world-class trainers, food and meals, tutors and other amenities not available to the average student. Now I agree that a player should be able to go out and get a pizza on a Friday night without the fear of taking money and being suspended, but it’s important to note the situation as a whole.
Football players generate revenue for schools, but this does not necessarily translate into profit for an athletic department. Whether players should be paid a full stipend is not my decision to make, but I think we’re all in agreement that the system is inefficient as is and changes should be made to fix it. Until a full solution is reached, NCAA — you’re sacked!
Jordan Bean is a sophomore who has yet to declare a major. He can be reached at Jordan.Bean@tufts.edu.