To Pay Or Not To Pay That Is The Question

I know a lot of you may not be following college football all that closely during the off season. And why should you? Not much happens to be honest. Rather than really stretch to try and make a story out of nothing I mostly don’t blog much during the off season except for the occasional BCS rant. But something has been developing lately that is very, very interesting for the sport. It is the issue of paying the players.

This has got to be the most ridiculous discussion in college football right now. I honestly didn’t think any idea could possibly be worse than the BCS, but if there is one thing that would make college football even worse, it would be paying the players.

Keep in mind, paying the players does not mean big NFL-style salaries or anything. They would get an extra few thousand bucks each year to cover their living expenses that scholarship money doesn’t cover already. But of course, all of us who have been to college know that the cost of living varies widely depending on a lot of factors. I managed to pay about $3,000 per semester outside of tuition and books. That covered rent, food, and recreation.

But I also know people who spent well over $5,000 per semester. They had super posh apartments, great cars, a fully stocked refrigerator and plenty of toys to stay fully distracted from actually getting an education. Point is, the “cost of living” is completely unpredictable. That and I’m sure the cost of living in Provo at BYU is much less than say UCLA. So there is problem number one, determining the cost of living.

But that is hardly a problem at all compared to everything else we are talking about. Think back to the common argument against a playoff. Remember the plus-one model? Remember how it was trounced because “it would lead to a bigger playoff” or something? This is called a slippery slope argument. I notice the big BCS schools don’t seem to follow that same line of thinking here, namely, once you start paying players, when will it end? Answer: it won’t. Player “salaries” will always increase, never decrease. This could turn ugly in a few years.

Now throw in the fact that you have schools like Ohio State or Texas that make millions in their athletic programs. Compare that to East Carolina or Tulane. How could these little schools ever pay players anything? They already struggle supplying scholarships and their football programs don’t bring in the kind of revenue other schools see. As if they weren’t already disadvantaged when it came to recruiting, this would really tip the scales.

Then think about how they keep this equitable. Obviously all student-athletes (could you still call them that?) would get the allowance. That’s a whole lot of money some of these schools shell out. And for what? Aren’t they SCHOOLS?!?!? Shouldn’t their money be used to EDUCATE or something like that? Does anyone honestly believe that student athletes really have it rough? Now we have to take money that helps fund other sports or other university programs and give it to athletes because coming up with a couple thousand bucks is really hard?

I remember being waited on at a restaurant by a BYU football player. Here’s a guy who has a scholarship that pays for his schooling and then goes out and works to pay the rest of his living costs. Now that is admirable. He didn’t need a handout. So why do any of the others?

First of all, they are getting a free education. Only one third of American adults even have a Bachelor’s degree, and all of these guys can get one for free. Second of all, they get four years to literally try-out for the NFL. NFL players get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars at a bare minimum. Football players are practically worshiped on campus. These guys can show up at a party and literally be the life of the party. They could probably hook up with just about any girl on campus. It’s a pretty sweet life.

Now let’s compare that to students who are not athletes but are on academic scholarships. I knew plenty of them. These guys literally have no social lives. It’s difficult to get out and do much of anything when you have to maintain at least a 3.75 GPA or risk losing your scholarship. Yet they study hard, get jobs and get through school just fine. Is anyone considering giving them extra allowances for their costs of living?

The only reason this is on the table is because people think the universities are making a ton of money off the players. Well, that’s true, they do. But it’s kind of untrue. You see, it’s not the players who are bringing the fans into the stadiums. No, it’s the jersey they are wearing. Fans are there for the name on the front, not the name on the back. Playing for a university is an honor and a privilege. Players receive more than enough already from the universities if you ask me.

But think of how much the university invests in these guys. They get scholarships. They get facilities. They get equipment. They get coaches. They get marketing teams. Everything is provided for these guys. That’s not to mention the incredible opportunity it is to play at the highest level of college football. Look at the NFL draft this year. Lots of guys from the FBS in case you didn’t notice.

So I think student-athletes have so many opportunities and blessings from playing football already that this entire discussion is nuts. Imagine when the day comes that players get paid. The little guys won’t have a chance to compete. They will have to make a new division in college football, the BCS, the FBS and the FCS. Or they could call it the Haves, Have-nots and Little Sisters of the Poor.