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2018.09.24(MON)

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[JSR] NCAA Athletes: Students or Employees?

[LA중앙일보] 기사입력 2018/09/12 14:16

NCAA college team coaches get paid in the millions while most student athletes live under the poverty line. [Source: The New York Times]

NCAA college team coaches get paid in the millions while most student athletes live under the poverty line. [Source: The New York Times]

Paul Kang, Grade 9<br>La Canada High School

Paul Kang, Grade 9
La Canada High School

Many people often enjoy watching college football where they can cheer and root for their favorite team and players. However, there is a dark side to the celebration that happens on the field. Some may have been lightly aware of this dark side since 2010, but especially In the last 3 years, it has been discovered that the NCAA and colleges often mistreat, exploit, and overwork their athletes.

The NCAA, or the National Collegiate Athletics Association, is an organization that students must register in if they wish to become athletes for their college team. However, critics have detected many faults within the organization, such as a minimum of a 2.0 GPA which leads to many, if not almost all athletes barely passing classes and colleges that have already confirmed acceptance with the athlete faking a language on their application, such as Swahili, a language commonly known for being faked on applications for athletes.

Moreover, the NCAA imposes a strict rule on their athletes: they cannot be paid in any way. They must play the sport for the love of that sport, without receiving the pay that they should be getting according to the Fair Labor Standards Act. They put in 40 hours of training and exercise every day, knowing that they only have a 2% chance of making into professional sports, and if they were to be given a single penny, it would be in violation of the NCAA rules. This is precisely the reason that NCAA student athletes should be paid under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Recognizing student athletes as employees of the NCAA will help relieve the pay gap. [Source: The Santa Clara]

Recognizing student athletes as employees of the NCAA will help relieve the pay gap. [Source: The Santa Clara]

Some proponents of the NCAA might argue that because the college provides a scholarship for the athlete, they don’t need to pay them. However, an understanding of the difference of athletic and academic scholarships is necessary, because while an academic scholarship can be used for tuition, housing, books, student necessities, and then however the student likes; an athletic scholarship can only be used towards housing, tuition, and necessary books. And while this still may not seem terrible, one must take into account that 86% of NCAA student athletes are under the federal poverty line.

Technically, the athlete could make use of the NCAA’s catastrophic injury relief policy, but this is only if medical expenses are above $90,000, which most are not. Then comes the problem of having 86% of the athletes who are prone to frequent injury and under the federal poverty line not being able to pay hospital bills.

Not only will paying student athletes solve those problems of exploitation, it will also stop the exploitation of minorities and women. Currently with most Division 1 players being African-American and of a minority descent, the money they win is then taken and then redistributed to other division athletes and people on campus, most of whom are white and of a higher economic class. Even when companies such as Nike or Adidas offer to sponsor Division 1 players when they advertise, athletes cannot receive the money for any commercials and advertisements that they are featured in.

Paying athletes would get rid of the exploitation of minorities, and also create gender equality, because the funds would be equalized, instead of the university focusing solely on male Division 1 sports.

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