Op-Ed: Do Our Student Athletes Deserve More?

Day in and day out, student athletes dedicate their lives to their sport. They wake up with the sun, go to daily workouts and practices, and travel almost every weekend, all while taking enough classes to be a full-time student. Student athletes, particularly those who play at a Division 1 level, spend almost all of their time outside of class on their sport, so should they be paid to play?

Many of the nation's student athletes are recruited as high-schoolers and come to their prospective universities on scholarships. Scholarships can cover tuition, room and board, transportation, and more. In a way, scholarships are like getting paid. Since so many athletes are already on scholarships, they shouldn't need any more compensation.

But, that's where it gets tricky. Scholarships are not awarded to every student athlete, and when they are, there are binding factors that come with them. Athletic scholarships tend to be awarded based on the understanding that the student will continue to play their sport for all four years. This means that no matter the situation, whether it is a serious injury or family emergency, the student is bound to their team.

Every year, NCAA Division 1 schools make billions of dollars in revenue from their sports programs, from ticket sales to television deals. In 2016, UCLA coach Jim Mora made $3.57 million alone, which made him the greatest compensated public employee in all of California.

If there is such a high monetary value attached to our sports programs, why isn’t it trickling down to the players who give their bodies to it? Our schools would not be the schools they are today without the revenue brought in by these students.

Every NCAA Division 1 student athlete should be awarded a scholarship to cover tuition, room and board, and other expenses on top of a monthly stipend.

With an average of 30 to 40 hours spent on practices a week, it would be impossible for a Division 1 student athlete to hold on to a job. Student athletes come from all walks of life, and it is unfair to assume that they do not need to provide some kind of income for themselves or their families.

Jordan Franklin, a UC Davis NCAA football player, explains, "It is unreasonable for us to be expected to attend all of our workouts, practices, and games while maintaining a good GPA, and then also make enough money to live comfortably."

Rather than looking at these athletes as pieces that bring in revenue, we should first look at them as students, and then appreciate the work and life they put into their programs. The least we can do is give them the resources to live outside of their sport.