Even better, I'm going to make a list of reasons why paying college athletes a salary is one of the most ill-advised, harebrained ideas floating around collegiate athletics (or really, just the fan base) today. Oh goody, it's not just an emotionally cleansing rampage, it's a well organized, emotionally cleansing rampage. It's gonna be a good day.
1. We are paying those athletes, because the same athletes who are performing at that level are being given scholarships to attend the university for which they play. They are being paid through a general barter system. For their time commitment and effort in play they receive a place to sleep (in a dorm) or a "housing allotment" (for an apartment), they are fed for free multiple times a day on the university's dime, they are clothed in practice and/or workout gear, all the way down to their shoes, AND they are attending college for free. A FREE education, people. F-R-E-E, Free! Do you know how many people in this country would give their left arm for the chance to go to college for free?! I had a partial scholarship and a job all the way through college and I am STILL paying off student loans.
2. Do you honestly want to take a college age kid, who is away from home for the first time, and who (on average) already has trouble adjusting to the college environment and give him discretionary income? Because that screams "terrible idea" to me. I realize that not all college athletes are irresponsible in their decision making or money management, but they also generally aren't the ones to whom people want to give money.
3. I realize that athletes, due to their practice schedule, can't really have a job on the side and, therefore, don't really have any extra money to spend. So what? Most college students who do have jobs have to use that money to pay for tuition, books, room and board, food (except instead of a variety of meals, they usually stock up on Ramen Noodles at fourteen cents a pack), clothes, etc. and so they don't generally have too much extra money to spend either. Get over it. And if you are going to use the argument "But these aren't 'most college students,' they are star athletes," then let me put it this way: It doesn't matter how well they throw, hit, kick, catch, or dribble a ball (depending on their sport, of course), if they break a leg they aren't any better than the rest of us. Except that at least part of their medical expenses will be paid by someone else. So cry me a river.
4. "But their names are being used to sell merchandise. Shouldn't they get at least a little of that money?" No. See above for the ways that they are being appropriately compensated. Besides, paying them more is just going to create more divas (or, in this case, divos) and more drama. Do we really need more drama kings in athletics, collegiate or otherwise? 'Cause I'm thinking no.
5. "But the coaches get paid a lot of money." First, yes, the coaches get paid a lot. Being a coach is their career. Once upon a time, though, that coach was in the same boat as those athletes and, unless some serious rule breaking was going on, they weren't paid for it either. Also, don't EVEN get me started on how overpaid coaches are.
6. "So they are getting a free education, why do they care? A lot of the stars are going on to the pros anyway and won't even finish their degree." You can squander money just as easily as you can squander an education. Besides, if they were good enough to go straight to the pros, they would have found a way, but they aren't. They need to be developed, so the free EDUCATION they receive from their coaches and their playing experiences in college helps them get to where they want to go.
7. If you don't appreciate what you are already being given, it certainly doesn't entitle you to receive more. If they are complaining because they don't think that the education (both in the classroom and out) they are receiving, along with the clothes, food, books, and their living quarters are enough, I'm not going to be in favor of them getting even more (money or otherwise) that they can take for granted.
8. "But they work so hard. They should be able to go out and have fun with their friends sometimes, and that takes money." First, I never said they didn't work hard. Second, I agree, they should be allowed to have fun sometimes. Third, there are plenty of poor college students all across this great nation who would argue that you can have fun on a budget, or even no money at all. And if their friends are telling them they need to be making money to have fun, odds are they have the wrong kind of friends.
9. "But the university makes so much money of off them, why can't they have just a little of it." Because they can't afford it. The majority of sports not only don't make money, but lose it. So the sports that do make money help pay for all the others. That is no small task. And what is left over is generally used for equipment or stadium upgrades, or is put away for those years when the programs that do make money still don't make enough to cover all the expenses. "So pay the coaches less." As much as I agree that coaches are overpaid.....yeah, why don't you try that and see how it goes. I predict disaster, but good luck with that. "So cut out the sports that don't make money." Again, impending disaster, but why don't you give it a shot. Make sure you have a great legal team, though, because you'll be in immediate violation of Title IX or, more specifically, the Javits Amendment of Title IX.
10. "But between practice, playing, and classwork, they don't have any free time. Shouldn't they get rewarded in some way?" They are being rewarded. Being educated is a great reward. Being a better athlete is a reward. And, again, there are many college students out there who balance classwork and a job, which can be just as demanding. So if athletes are complaining that they have no free time, I would like to introduce them to some of the other students who have to work their tails off all the time and get zero recognition for it, but still manage to get it all done. I'm not going to reward someone for poor time management skills. Or for whining.
If you think that college athletes still ought to be paid, we should just agree to disagree. I feel very strongly about this and get vehemently angry when I hear people talk about how "mistreated" those athletes are. Please. To paraphrase Cheech Marin (which, God help me, I never thought I would have to do), if that's mistreatment, chain me to the wall.