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College Sports: Are We Exploiting Our Young Athletes?


There is no question that college sports are one of the great passions of the American Public.  From cheering on your alma mater to cheering for the local state University there are rabid college sports fans everywhere.  I know that here in Ohio there are massive amounts of people who have never set foot at Ohio State University (or THE Ohio state university) yet they would rather sacrifice their firstborn than see Michigan defeat Ohio State in any sport. (An exaggeration… I hope)

I myself have never been a college sports fan.  I’ve always wanted to watch the pros as I enjoy watching the best of the best compete not larger programs smash smaller ones.  This has however led me to ask many college sports fans what is it about college sports they so enjoy.  There are many answers but generally what it comes down to is that college sports are more “pure” than the pros because the athletes are not playing for money.

The athletes are not playing for money.  This seems to be a good answer but it has caused me to think long and hard about the way college sports are run.  Let us first examine why it is the pros make the ungodly amounts of money they do.  Professional sports bring in a TON of money so the players are paid accordingly.  If an NFL franchise was only bringing in a million dollars a year I bet players wouldn’t be making too much money.

Now let us look at college sports.  Just like the pros they make insane amounts of money from sports. Here in Ohio there are Ohio State t-shirts, Ohio State flags, Ohio state coffee mugs, Ohio state jerseys, most of which do not belong to Ohio State students.  Ohio state merchandise is popular because of Ohio State big time sports.  But who is responsible for the success of college sports programs and ultimately the vast profits they bring in?  It isn’t the dean.  It isn’t the coach.  It’s the players on the field, the court, and the rink.  Sure other members belonging to the college have a hand in shaping these young men and women, but ultimately it comes down to the players’ performance on the field.  Again the PLAYERS, the student athletes, are the ones bringing in this massive revenue.

Perhaps this is a cynical viewpoint but after discussing what we have just discussed it seems rather amusing to my point of view that colleges are perfectly willing to reap in millions of dollars off the sweat and work of these young athletes while using the wall of “the purity if college sports” as a means to avoid sharing their profits with the athletes.  Sure many athletes get a full ride to the college they are playing at, but the ultimate dollar value of what the player would be making if he was on a pro team making the same amount of money as the college is far larger than the cost of a full ride.  It seems to me that the college sports world is perfectly willing to turn a blind eye to this ridiculous exploitation so they can pat themselves on the back and talk about how much more pure their sports are than the pros.

As far as I’m concerned the “purity” of college sports went out the window when coaches in college basically became the same as professional coaches.  They move around to whichever school pays them the most money and salaries are in the millions per year.  One could argue that the school needs to hire a coach at a competitive salary to keep the team competitive as sports bring in a large amount of revenue for the college.  I must however ask again why the coach gets to reap the benefits while the men and women on the field that are making it happen do not.  It seems to just once again bring out the double standard of colleges telling their athletes “well because you are earning a degree you get no part in the millions you are bringing in for us but we’ll sure enjoy it.”

Again I must confess that I am NOT a big college sports fan.  Perhaps I’m missing something, perhaps I’m considering things from the wrong angle.  What do you think? Feel free to post your comments below or send me an email at mat@trumanburger.com.

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Categories : Trumans opinion


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