Two years ago, a Pac-12 study revealed that college athletes spend about 50 hours per week just playing their sport. In return, student-athletes receive payments in the form of scholarships worth tens of thousands of dollars, a portion of which the IRS takes out for income taxes.
Athletes who fail to participate in mandatory practices or games can have their scholarships terminated. This could result in the student being dismissed from the university or taking on unwanted loans just to pay for classes. So technically, college athletes are already being paid to play and succeed in their sport.
But why all the fuss over this topic in particular?
When Walter Byers served as the NCAA President over 35 years ago, he confessed in his book “Unsportsmanlike Conduct,” that the NCAA sought to convince the public that college athletes and other team members didn’t need to receive compensation. In other words, the NCAA did their best to try to avoid paying players.
College Vs. Pros: Should Student Athletes Leave Early?
We see it every year. Athletes who are still in college must choose between the chance of going professional in their sport or risk getting injured and being unable to play in the upcoming year.
Athletes like Brandin Cooks from Oregon State and De’Anthony Thomas from the University of Oregon have been a couple of the players over the recent years to put their educations on hold to test their abilities in the pros. Other athletes, like Andrew Luck and Richard Sherman, have put their education first while still reaching the professional level in football.
Athletes have been successful through both of these decisions; however, some athletes have been left in the behind for choosing the wrong path. You can take professionalism any way you want it, but in this case, you can view it as an act of making a living in any field — whether that means being an athlete or working in a cubicle in your broker’s office.
Although there are many points on both sides of the argument and each has levied beneficial stories and opinions, the decision is ultimately up to the athlete.
Leaving School for a Professional Sport
- Allows athletes to earn a living faster and provide for their families
The money that players get goes a long way in life towards helping their families and themselves.
They can also start using their earnings for good sooner. After all, good people find ways to do good things for society. This means that athletes could put money back into their communities, by hosting fundraising events. Or, just by simply educating youth members about certain resources and smart financial planning.
Paying for college, for example, involves a great deal of responsibility from both the student and the university. It requires determination, independence and most importantly, financial support. Although financial planning to some might seem relatively straight-forward, these are things athletes could teach members of the community.
Athletes also have the power to give the youth in their hometown inspiration. The ability to play sports when it could have been seen previously as impossible can be a great motivation for kids.
- Prevents risk of injury in college sports
Perhaps the main reason why so many college athletes forgo their senior year and choose to leave early is due to the risk of injury. To put it another way, many athletes feel that if they stay in college, they could get injured and put their professional careers at risk.
If student athletes choose to leave early, they will get paid a large amount of money and there are benefits in place to ensure they’re covered if they’re injured during the season. Although these benefits might not be as bountiful as a healthy player’s contract, it’s still a great way for an athlete to receive closure knowing they’re still going to make money.
- Allows for studying other areas of interest
Many of us can remember the expenses of college. Student athletes who do not get scholarships are put in a hole financially with government loans gaining interest while they’re trying to decide their next move.
Although most athletes receive some sort of compensation from their college or university for sports, some do not receive this award. This means that going professional would link the athlete to a network of financial security and they could probably study about anything they’re willing to pay for. Some athletes like Greg McElroy, for example, have even gone back to earn a master’s degree in Business Marketing; a degree program that promises to teach individuals how to build a successful career in business by developing leadership skills.
Staying in College and Receiving a Degree
- Enhances Knowledge and Awareness
Most students got to college to gain the knowledge they need to make their way in the workforce. Knowledge about history, knowledge about all things being equal, and knowledge about self-awareness. This kind of educational background will help anyone trying to find their calling in the workplace.
Athletes are gifted physically and most have gifts intellectually as well. To make the most of their college careers would be to finish what they started and graduate, earning a degree. How many players can you think of who would postpone their NFL Draft entry to go study overseas? Myron Rolle is a prime example of a true student-athlete, and other athletes should use him as an example when trying to decide whether to leave early or stay and finish.
- Secures the Athlete’s Future
As we all know, not everyone has the chance to become a professional athlete. In fact, there are many people who make an honest living every day in their jobs that do not involve playing sports.
For those student-athletes who are fortunate enough to go pro, receiving a degree before making that transition is a way to secure their futures.
The risk of injury is high in sports, and if an athlete’s career would be in jeopardy, they would have something to fall back on. There are so many things you can do in the workforce with a college degree.
In the end: it doesn’t matter how we view this topic, these are student athletes. These players go to college for an education, not to enter the draft. Although some of these students do succeed at playing at the next level, the best thing for an athlete to do is graduate.