Sports: College athletes should not be paid

NIKKI NAIDU

Simply put: college students are not professional athletes who are paid inducements and salaries for a career in sports. Through their participation in sports, college athletes earn access to a college education often accompanied by a scholarship that covers tuition, book fees, room and board and numerous other expenses. Collegiate sports is not career or profession, it is an aspiring athlete’s road to success and higher education. That is all it should be.

According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) website, the average yearly scholarship for an athlete at in-state public school is $15,000, in an out of state school it is $25,000 and for a private university $35,000. These scholarships are only awarded to the elite- the outstanding student athletes who are valuable to schools in a plethora of ways. This even gives student athletes a distinct advantage over their peers. Student athletes have the ability to graduate without the burden of massive student loans over their heads, while the majority of students are not given that luxury.

College athletes are paid not with money but with their education. In addition to higher education, players learn values that go beyond the classroom and will be translated into the workforce that go beyond school. At the end of the day these are the most important things, and if all of this comes on the dime of the university, there is no reason for student athletes to receive payment.

Guilderland High School (GHS) student Ania Alberski believes that colleges athletes should be focused on learning because that’s why they are in college in the first place. She says, “It’s kind of ridiculous that kids can get scholarships to good colleges based on their athletic ability since they don’t have much to offer academically.” She adds that, “Most of these athletes are like trophies- they are only there to make the school look more appealing and renowned.” It is unfair to take away scholarship opportunities from those who work hard and deserve it, and give those scholarships to athletes who are solely focused on their sport.

If universities began to pay athletes, there would most definitely be a widening gap between those students who work extremely hard to make ends meet and the star athletes who receive scholarship money in addition to an income. This would not only create a disparity amongst peers, but also between large and small universities. Large universities with great sums of revenue would buy out all of the best players for their teams, leaving the smaller schools at an unfair disadvantage.

Just last year, University of Texas athletic director Steve Patterson revealed that his university will soon begin paying its student-athletes in every sport, male and female. UT expects to spend $6 million annually on the endeavor, which works out to roughly $10,000 per athlete per year. The money will cover college expenses that aren’t covered by traditional scholarships and give each player $5,000 in compensation for the use of their image. The latter is in connection to the O’Bannon lawsuit. While an athletic department like Texas- the most profitable in the country, can easily cover these expenses, other schools are intimidated that cuts in sports could be casualties from these additional payments to athletes.

GHS student Ryan Mcklusky agrees with UT’s endeavor stating that “student athletes should be given money to spend leisurely because most of them are exploited by a huge money making industry.” However, isn’t college life all about being broke and working hard to make ends meet? If athletes are paid, they are on the verge of being spoiled and losing sight of their motivation and work ethic.

Furthermore, the disparity would widen even more with the question of equal wages amongst male and female athletes. The NCAA reported that 28.3 million viewers watched the 2015 NCAA men’s Division I National Championship between Wisconsin and Duke. They also reported that there were 3.1 million viewers for the 2015 NCAA Women’s Division I National Championship between Notre Dame and UConn. Obviously, these numbers vary vastly and the statistics show that more people are interested in watching men play sports than watching women play sports. The same goes for Division II and Division III sports, why shouldn’t athletes of all gender be paid the same amount for equal practice, performance, and play? It’s all because of statistics that are prejudiced, unfair and bound to spiral into much worse problems with female athletes entering the arena to fight for equal pay.

At UNC Asheville, track and field runner Kelsie Rubino was unaware on her school’s decision to pay only the men’s and women’s basketball players, but not the scholarship athletes in 12 other sports. “I don’t think that’s fair! I don’t understand why some students are going to be paid and others aren’t,” Rubino stated. “I feel like we all put in the same amount of work and effort, and I thought we were all one big family.”

Several people argue that student athletes are like machines, toys that are labored away for a multi-billion dollar business. That is far from the truth. Whether these athletes pan out as professionals or not, they made a name for themselves and they are graduating from college debt free. The NCAA graduation rate for student athletes is 60%. This means that 40% of student athletes are transferring schools, dropping out, or simply unable to graduate. The majority of the time, it is the latter and this makes it more difficult for unsuccessful athletes to find jobs in the work force later on. Paying student athletes would only increase the percentage of those unable to graduate, because they would become too confident of their skills and become even more unmotivated to focus on academics.

Northwestern University football players filed a petition last year to form a labor union and by popular vote, a ruling allowed for the formation of this union. Since when does getting the chance to play a game you love everyday constitute as a job? College athletes need to recognize their opportunity as a privilege, that most people often don’t get to have. Essentially, if athletes do work hard enough to get to the professional level, then they can make a job out of it. College athletes are invited to play at top notch universities because of their passion and love for the game, which makes them excel at it. When you combine wages with college sports, this passion is lost. Becoming a student athlete is about pride and the intense passionate gratification that a win brings to a team and all of its fans, it should not be a measure of material value.

College is a place for people to obtain a degree to help jumpstart their “real world” career aspirations. Whether people want to capitalize on that opportunity or not, it is completely on them. College is not a place for athletes to get paid to play sports, and that is why the professional level of athletics exists. It is important to remember that “student” comes first in “student athlete.”

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Sports: College athletes must be paid

EDDY YU

Should college athletes be paid? This has been a big question for the past decade. Until recently, the National Collegiate Athletic Association(NCAA) has said no, and labeled college athletes as amateurs who would not get paid. Is this fair? Or is it exploitation? College football and basketball programs generate billions of dollars every year. Where does all this money go if the players don’t get a cent? I’ll tell you where the money goes, it goes to the NCAA, the universities, tv programs, and coaches. Many college athletes work just as hard as the pros with top football and men’s basketball players putting up to 60 hours a week in games and practices. That’s longer than most adults work. On top of that, they have to attend classes and get their hw done. Yet they’re not getting paid! It just doesn’t make sense. Often sports don’t allow student athletes to find a job or to get an intern, which many other students obtain to make ends meet.

Many people believe that many college athletes have the “good life.” The average FULL scholarship athlete accumulates an average of 3,200 dollars of debt each year because meal plans and other incidentals often aren’t fully covered. Shabazz Napier, star playing of the reigning NCAA basketball champion University of Connecticut last year who is now in the NBA, once said “There are nights that I go to bed and I’m starving.”  How can that be right? A star whose image was used on TV all over nation, whose jerseys are sold all over the country, doesn’t have enough money for food? For the very reason that they aren’t earning money when they should and they need to, there are college athletes that end up dropping out of college, and missing out on key education in hope of joining the pros and earning some very-much needed cash.

Even if colleges don’t pay athletes, someone should. Endorsements. What are endorsements? To put it frankly, in this sense, an endorsement is a company or business paying an athlete to sponsor them or be in commercials for them. Why aren’t college athletes aren’t allowed to go make money for themselves? Who is Jeremy Bloom? A football player? A skier?  He is in fact both or was until the NCAA stepped in. Olympian and World Champion skier Jeremy Bloom attended the University of Colorado, and played football there for two years, hoping one day to play in the NFL(National Football League).  According to the NCAA’s long list of rules, college athletes aren’t allowed to have endorsement deals. On the other hand, the United States Olympic Committee encourages endorsements as international travel is expensive and in order for Bloom to continue skiing, he needed to obtain these endorsements. Bloom knew that the NCAA banned endorsements so he sued them on that issue but eventually decided to defy the NCAA and take up endorsements. It was either that or give up skiing. He tried everything he could to not make these endorsements have anything to do with the NCAA. He made sure his sponsors were not football related and never mentioned football in them.. However, the NCAA found out and banned him from playing the college sport he loved, football. As a result, Bloom missed his chance to play football as an upperclassman. “I did all these things to prepare and I worked hard and the one thing I really wanted was to start at receiver. To look back and think that it wasn’t my ability that kept me from doing that, it was an organization…I thought that was really unfair.” Bloom said.

In many colleges, sports are a bigger priority than education, as coaches tell students to switch classes if it conflicts with practice. Heisman trophy winner Johnny Manziel used to play football at the Texas A&M University. He was once suspended when he was paid for signing autographs. The NCAA rule is that players cannot sell their image or likeness for profit. The problem is…that’s exactly what colleges do with their star players. It’s estimated that when Manziel won the Heisman trophy in 2012(awarded to the best college football player every year), $37 million dollars in profit was generated through media exposure for the university. Additionally, Texas A&M raised $740 million dollars in fundraising that year, $440 million dollars more than the school’s old record. No doubt that a large percentage of that huge increase is a result of star Johnny Manziel’s image being broadcast on television all over nation. So universities are cashing in, television stations are cashing in, coaches are paid millions, and who are they only one’s that aren’t? The players themselves. Why are the coaches being paid so much when some players are equally or more responsible for bringing money to the universities?

The National College Players Association and Drexel University conducted a joint study on Football Bowl Subdivision colleges which includes all the top football colleges. They discovered that of the players that earned a “full” scholarship, 85% of players who lived on campus lived below the federal poverty line and 86% of players living off campus lived below the federal poverty line. This study also showed that the fair market value of an average FBS football player was $121, 048 and the average FBS basketball player to be $265, 027. If these student athletes are worth so much, why are they still living in poor conditions?

Ed O’Bannon played basketball for UCLA. In 2009, over 10 years after graduating, he realized that his image was used in a video game without his consent and without compensation. He then fired a lawsuit against NCAA and EA Sports(the videogame company). This lawsuit quickly became popular as 19 other former college athletes soon joined this lawsuit. Judge Claudia Wilken and the court ruled in favor of Bannon and declared the NCAA ban on players being paid for their image illegal. Starting in the spring of 2016, athletes in top football and basketball programs will have to be paid at least $5,000 a year for their image being used on television and for video games. However, this money will be placed in a trust account, that players can only access after they graduate college which doesn’t help many who are scraping to get by. Nevertheless, it’s a start in bringing change to the strict harsh rules of the NCAA and in the near future, perhaps finally college athletes will be paid what they deserve.

Opinion: The hypocritical cost of a college education – Why public higher education should be universally free

LEONARD BOPP

The American Dream is built on the principles of equal opportunity and social mobility, the idea that if someone works hard, they should be able to define their own destiny. It’s a term that has shaped our national ethos of freedom and prosperity and our ideals of success and advancement; it’s the idea we’ve used to welcome immigrants, fight for equality, and exemplify socioeconomic advancement; this is the rhetoric we use when we try to define the idiomatic idea of American greatness.

But when it comes to obtaining a college education, the American Dream is failing too many American students. Equal access to higher education is an imperative key to overcoming socioeconomic disparities, as it can give people of diverse backgrounds the tools they need to have a fair shot at a bright future. But as students are faced with rapidly increasing tuition and the crippling burden of debt from student loans, the cost of a college education is becoming a barrier to what should be a pathway to opportunity.

Many of us were hit with this reality this year as when we applied to college. Even at public schools, government-sponsored and taxpayer-funded institutions that have lower costs than private colleges, the cost of attendance can be a burden on students and families. In New York, the average total cost of tuition, room, and board at a SUNY school is more than $23,000 per year – no small sum for a typical family.

Yes, need-based financial aid programs make noble and often substantial attempts to make a college education affordable for people of all economic backgrounds, and merit-based scholarships attempt to reward bright students with a well-deserved discount. However, such programs, while helpful, perpetuate the idea that a college education is a privilege to be awarded rather than an opportunity that anyone who will work hard should be able to access. I’d offer a more equitable solution: let public colleges and universities be free for everyone.

Thomas Jefferson, in his autobiography, wrote that “instead of an aristocracy of wealth, to make an opening for the aristocracy of virtue and talent is essential to a well-ordered republic.” The way to realize this, he said, was to ensure that everyone, regardless of their social or economic class, has access to a quality education. Social mobility depends on equal opportunity, and it is undeniable that, on the whole, a college education is a critical opportunity for economic gain. Based on a 2013 analysis of Labor Department statistics by the Economic Policy Institute, Americans with a four-year degree make 98 percent more on average than those without a degree. Furthermore, the Pew Research Center found that young millennials with a college degree will make an average of $17,500 more than those with only a high school diploma. Following these trends, it would ultimately cost a person more not to go to college than it would to pay for their degree. The salary gap between those who went to college and those who didn’t illuminates why it is so important that everyone has access to a college education. Pursuing a college education is the most reliable route to financial security, and especially for students raised in lower-class families, it offers a pathway out of poverty.

Public universities were originally designed to meet the need for higher education at a more reasonable price than private colleges. But as tuition increases at public colleges, more and more students, particularly those from lower-class families, are barred from this opportunity. Even among those who do go to college, many are faced with the undue burden of massive debt. On average, college students graduate with an average of $30,000 in debt, and the total debt from student loans in this country has reached over 1 trillion dollars. In a nation that proclaims a conviction in social mobility, to impose a financial burden on those for whom education should be a path for economic advancement is a hypocritical action. This is not characteristic of a “land of opportunity;” this is indicative of an academic aristocracy that is out of line with American values, one in which a college education is seen more as a privilege given to the wealthy than as a resource available to everyone.

Here’s the thing: when our students succeed, our nation succeeds. Making a college education accessible to everyone would lead to a stronger economy, as those who earn higher wages would, in theory, be able to spend more. If people have access to education as a tool to economic prosperity, then more people would be lifted out of poverty, allowing them to contribute further to a stronger economy. Furthermore, if a college education could be free, students would not graduate with at much debt, which has become a tremendous drag on our economy.

And believe it or not, it seems that our country actually could afford it. As of 2012, according to Department of Education statistics and an analysis in The Atlantic, the total tuition of students at public colleges and universities was $62.6 billion. Currently, the government spends $69 million dollars in patchwork attempts to subsidize the cost of public colleges – programs like Pell Grants, tax breaks, and work study funding. Beyond that, the government spends another $107.4 billion dollars on federal students loans, which often serve students attending public schools. Therefore, it seems it would cost the government less to fully subsidize tuition at public colleges and universities than it currently spends on its various programs to try to make these colleges more affordable.

Critics will argue that a system of free higher education will only allow people to slack off in college, as there will be no economic incentive to do well. There is some merit to this argument: when people are paying for their education, they are probably more likely to take it seriously. However, there are other ways to encourage students to work hard in college. When President Obama proposed making community colleges free, his plan included the rule that students must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.5 in order to have their tuition waived. The minimum GPA approach could work very well, as it would give students an incentive to work hard in school without giving them unjust costs. Fundamentally, however, these ideas represent a wrongful mistrust in American students. I have faith that for most students, the pursuit of economic security and the pursuit of broader knowledge would be incentive enough to work hard and do well. We must not allow fear-driven “moocher” stereotypes to invalidate a system that would overwhelmingly benefit our students and our nation as a whole.

I’m not saying that students should always choose public schools over private schools, nor am I saying that private schools should become institutions only for the elite upper class. For students who feel that a private college offers them the best educational opportunity, the government should continue to offer the option of federal student loans to help tuitions be more affordable. Furthermore, private colleges should follow the practices, as many, but not all, already do, of need-blind admissions, which ensures that students are admitted or rejected based on academic strength and not their financial situation, and fully-funded financial aid, which aims to give each student as much as they need in financial aid to make that college affordable. Even if public colleges became free, private colleges must remain places of socioeconomic diversity, and must continue or initiate programs to do so.

I’m also not saying that everyone needs to go to college. Many respectable and lucrative careers do not require a college education, and students who wish to pursue such a path should be encouraged to do so – after all, our society depends on its people to fill all jobs, including those that do not require a college degree. Furthermore, some of the richest, most innovative people in the world did not go to college – this is a perfect time to remind you that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were both college dropouts.

But what I am saying is that everyone should have the opportunity. Economically, a college education is a pathway to financial security that benefits students and, in turn, our country. Academically, a college education is a pathway to intellectual fulfillment and enlightenment, a way for everyone to reach their full intellectual capacity. And morally, a college education is an imperative path to overcome socioeconomic inequality, a critical tool to ensure equal opportunity for all. We must come to see a college education not as a privilege for a few, but as a worthy investment in our citizens, and making higher education free reflects this fundamental principle. Until we do, the American Dream of social mobility and equal opportunity will remain just that – a dream, an unreachable standard, a hypocritical myth.

The injustice of affirmative action in college admissions

ELANA DESANTIS

For many students here at Guilderland, race isn’t something that we spend a lot of time thinking about. While GHS is a place filled with all kinds of diverse interests, it is not a place filled with all kinds of diverse people: we are an overwhelmingly white school. There is a limited amount of individuals able to see race through the often sharper lens of minority. I am guilty of it too – as a white American I easily forget the privileges I garner simply because of that fact. Recently, however, as the college admissions wave crashes in once again, the sometimes-difficult contemplation about who we are, where we come from, and how that affects us peeks its head above the surface.

“You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say you are free to compete with all the others, and still just believe that you have been completely fair.” President Lyndon Johnson said this in 1965, as he so eloquently described the rationale for the continued, then contemporary, use of affirmative action in the United States. Affirmative Action programs are meant to help bolster opportunities for minority groups who have been subject to both the visible and invisible barriers of discrimination. They are an attempt at leveling the playing field so all citizens, regardless of race, ethnicity or gender, are able to have their slice of the American Dream. I’ll give you the logic: Two hundred fifty years of slavery, ninety years of Jim Crow, sixty years of “separate but equal,” and the continual, omnipotent gray cloud of discrimination under the police and justice system. And this idea of marginalization isn’t unique to African Americans – as the U.S. population swelled to become the melting pot it is now, nearly every ethnic minority group – Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans – has been subjected to some form of discrimination under the law. Affirmative Action programs began just after the Civil War and continue today, through employment and recruiting procedures, as well as how it pertains to many Guilderland students – college admissions. And while it should be clear at this point that I believe sturdily in the principles that Affirmative Action are built upon, I have recently begun to ask the question that unbearably arises each year around this time: Is Affirmative Action in college admissions truly fair?

Before I begin making any kind of case, I feel it behooves me as a senior and as the author of this article to briefly explain my own college process.  I applied to school Early Decision and by incredible luck and potential divine intervention, I was one of the lucky few who knew where they were going by mid-December of this past year. I’m saying this not to toot my own horn, but rather to explain that this article isn’t some angry retaliation at a hoard of rejection letters. I also think it behooves me to mention this: Personally, I don’t know if I think Affirmative Action in colleges should change drastically, it’s an idea that I struggle with. But I do know that there is an argument to amending the system, and it’s one that I believe is important to make.

It is fairly well known that college admissions is not a perfect science – not even close, especially when it comes to elite universities. Acceptance to top-tier schools, even by the most qualified of qualified students is never close to a guarantee. Perfect grades, amazing standardized test scores, a host of extracurricular activities, and great essays have now become the norm among applications to say, an Ivy League institution. The admissions standards are so high that simply meeting them means relatively little. These standards, however, aren’t consistent from applicant to applicant. Students that fall under the category of “underrepresented minority” or URM (typically black, Hispanic, or Native American), are often subject to a relative detente by admissions officers regarding the level at which their applications are scrutinized. I’m not claiming that URM students who are accepted to prestigious universities aren’t deserving of it, and that they aren’t incredibly bright, driven people, because in order to get into a top school you must be. However, what I am saying is that many, many rejected applicants are as well. More specifically, Asian-American applicants.

I wrote earlier that the basis of Affirmative Action was to help level the playing field, and on its surface, easing the acceptance standards for URMs does that. It uses the idea that these students have been given less opportunity, and inherently don’t have the same platform that say, white people have, to achieve high academic success. I’ll get back to this point, but for now I will say yes, that is true. Being white in America has a lot of advantages that other minorities don’t receive. So while Affirmative Action has an arguably reasonable basis behind changing admissions standards for URMs, it’s harder to account for the raised admissions standards that Asian-American individuals fall victim to. In 2009, in their book “No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal,” Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade and researcher Alexandria Walton Radford, studied applicants from 1997 and found that whites were three times, Hispanics six times, and blacks more than fifteen times as likely to be accepted at a US university as Asian-Americans. And this was data from now nearly twenty years ago. Okay, there are inherent disadvantages that black people face in America, however, I believe firmly that there aren’t inherent advantages to being an Asian person, especially not in comparison to white Americans.

The reason for this disparity in standards is the case of diversity – we need it in colleges. Diversity is a good thing in a learning environment. It helps give a wide range of perspectives. It benefits both minorities who are able to have people that they can relate to ethnically, and for whites who can understand the world better through their classmates. Schools aim to create a student population reflective of the population as a whole.  If colleges ignored race in their admissions process, we wouldn’t get the same cross-section of humanity that campuses would like to reflect. Take UC Berkeley, arguably the most prestigious school in the UC system, a system that in 1997, began a race-blind admissions process. In 2014, Asian Americans were the largest demographic to be admitted, making up 42.8 percent of admissions offers, followed by whites with 28.4 percent. While California does have a high Asian-American population, they are not the majority ethnic group, not even close.

So, a race-blind admissions process does create some diversity issues, I can agree with that. However, something feels inherently wrong about essentially punishing a demographic for having high levels of achievement. In many Asian-American households, education is an important value, which is why we see such staggering levels of incredibly successful Asian students. The thing here to note is this, though, successful students in general tend to come from families where education is a stressed ideal. It doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, Asian, Hispanic – if your parents expect you to take school seriously, you likely will. Asian-Americans aren’t successful because they are Asian, they are successful because they come from an environment where they are expected to be, just like the vast majority of every other top student from every race. If colleges raised their admissions standards off of which students were read to when they were little, encouraged to take enrichment opportunities or watch educational television, I imagine that their acceptances would change. This noted disparity in Asian-American academic success and everyone else has little do with race and more to do with values, values that are more prominent in Asian communities but likely the most prominent on the campuses of elite universities, where the majority of students benefited from the very same things that Asians are being penalized for.

This idea that academic success is derived not from your race, but rather from your household, is the driving force for much of the backlash against Affirmative Action. This logic is also pretty simple: You have a black student and a white student, both with two parents who are college educated attending the same high school and falling in the same socioeconomic bracket. It is challenging to find any disparity in opportunity for academic success between these two students. They both come from households where education is important, they have the same chance to take challenging classes, join clubs and sports, and neither has to worry about family economics more than the other. However, when it comes to applying to colleges, the black student has an advantage because they are black. I am someone who hates the absurd claims of so-called “reverse racism,” or the idea that any of this somehow makes up for the atrocities that African-Americans have been subject to in our history as a country and still today. I’m not complaining about my whiteness, I’m just stating the fact that this is true.

I’m not saying that Affirmative Action needs to go completely. It does a good job helping bring up minority groups that haven’t been given a fair hand, but it also tips the scales against Asian-Americans, and at times, poorer white people. The most readily available amendments to this entire system stabs at the demographic that we haven’t talked about yet: the poor. People from challenging economic backgrounds are at the most disadvantageous position when it comes to academic opportunity. Beyond just the stressors and struggles of daily life around or below the poverty line, students from low-income areas often attend worse public schools, and are less likely to have parents who graduated college. Here is the important thing though: the URMs I was talking about earlier all have significantly higher poverty rates than white people. If Affirmative Action focused more on class and family background, and less on race itself, theoretically, diversity should occur in an organic way.

I know that this isn’t a perfect solution. I know that discrimination isn’t black and white (no pun intended), but rather a dynamic mosaic of little things, of micro-aggressions, of deeply rooted and unrecognized stigmas we find within ourselves. I know that in the search for equality, we have so, so far to go as a country. But I also know this: I have spent hours at night doing APUSH, gnawing through calculus, stressing over English papers. I have seen my friends do the same, friends who are white and friends who are black, friends who are Hispanic and friends who are Asian. While our struggles are often unique, we are bound by our work ethic and love of learning, our late nights and our long readings. So when college admissions comes down to the nitty-gritty, when rejections make us question our efforts or hurt for our friends, white, Asian or anything else, it is known: we could not have done this any way but together.

Obama proposes free community college

BY BRYCE GOYER

On Thursday January 8th, President Obama announced a proposal to provide two years of free community college. Obama proposed providing two years of tuition to American students who could maintain good grades at their community college.

This idea was initially brought to light in a video Obama filmed on Wednesday on Air Force One and posted to Facebook. Obama will formally lay out his proposal Friday during a speech in Tennessee. Obama is currently in his pre -State of the Union tour.

It is estimated by the White House that the average community college student will save $3,800 annually with this new proposal.