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College Athletes Have a Right to Be Paid Essay

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Updated: Jul 1st, 2021


College athletics is one of the biggest and fastest growing industries in the United States of America. This phenomenon has been necessitated by the increasing ratings of college athletes every year. This means that universities and colleges that manage to produce stronger, bigger, and faster athletes generate more revenue because of increased sponsorship (Terp 17). In addition, the institutions make additional income through concessions, as well as sale of tickets and merchandise.

Over the years, colleges and universities across the United States have continually used their athletic success to entice a high number of applicants by promoting their institution as a center of excellence (Karaim 9). The plight of college athletes in America has been a major topic of discussion across all spheres in the country, with some people championing for them to be paid while others want to maintain the status quo. Without a doubt, college athletics has been one of the critical pillars of America’s cultural setting and economic prosperity over the years.

However, numerous proposals to have college athletes be allowed to make money have faced a lot of criticism and rejection from colleges and athletics administrators in the country. Although student-athletes are classified as armatures, that does not mean they cannot earn while still in school because college often acts as a stepping stone for those who end up having prolonged playing careers with professional teams (Terp 26). Considering the numerous financial benefits that student-athletes bring to their institutions, it would only be fair if they were paid for their efforts.


Student-athletes should be paid for their efforts just like any other sportsperson because their talents are often used to generate revenue. Paying college athletes will give them an opportunity to demonstrate to the world that sports talent has significant value regardless of the level at which it is utilized (Karaim 12). Notable athletes such as LeBron James and Richard Sherman have openly expressed their support for proposals that would allow college athletes to be paid (McLaughlin par.2).

This cause has also received a lot of backing from politicians, with Senators Bernie Sanders and Chris Murphy showing a lot of support by describing college athletes as workers. A big percentage of college athletes do not turn professional when they are done with their studies, a situation that leaves most of them disillusioned because they often struggle penetrating the job market (Terp 29). In the contemporary world where the competition for the limited job opportunities is very high, allowing college athletes to be paid would be the most sensible thing to do. The main reason for this is the fact that it will give them a chance to make something out of their talents for the short period they will be in school incase they do not get a chance to advance into full professionals.

In October this year, a major milestone was reached in the quest to achieve this feat. The governor of the state of California, Gavin Newsom signed into law the Fair Pay to Play Act (FPPA), which allows college athletes in the state to start earning money when their names, images, and likenesses are used for commercial purposes (McLaughlin par.2). However, the law does not allow universities and colleges to pay students for playing sports. This legislation allows college athletes in California to make money from endorsements such as billboards advertisements, promoting sports camps, and social media feed among others.

The enactment of FPPA has introduced a new dimension into the way stakeholders in college sports have viewed this issue over the years. It is very clear that this legislation addresses so many other issues that affect college sports in the United States beyond the money factor. It looks to address the long-standing issues of race, gender, and the psychological wellbeing of college athletes (McLaughlin par.7).

The industry that is college sports has seen many young people from the African American community contribute towards its growth over the years without getting much in return. In contrast, the head coaches of the university and college sports teams with expensive contracts are predominantly white, a phenomenon that has brought about the debate of racism and inequality. Over the years, the coaches and managers of university sports teams have been earning millions of dollars from the talents of young Americans who end living in miserly after finishing college (McLaughlin par.9). The National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCCA) and universities generate a lot of revenue through media deals and ticket sales. Sharing part of that revenue with the people who work to generate it would steer the industry to unlimited growth, while at the same time help the students deal with pressing issues such as paying their tuition fees and student loans (Terp 38).


Being paid for work done is important with regard to helping people meet their material and economic needs, as well as building a person’s sense of autonomy. Once these needs have been met in a satisfactory manner, an individual tends to benefit from a heightened sense of personal value. Paying college athletes is long overdue, thus the need for all the relevant stakeholders to make the necessary change and allow all the talented students in American universities to have control over the way the world perceives them and their talents.

Works Cited

Karaim, Reed. Paying College Athletes: Are Players School Employees? CQ Press, 2014.

McLaughlin, Eliott. “CNN. Web.

Terp, Gail. The Debate about Paying College Athletes. North Star Editions, 2018.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "College Athletes Have a Right to Be Paid." July 1, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/college-athletes-have-a-right-to-be-paid/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'College Athletes Have a Right to Be Paid'. 1 July.

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