Should college athletes be paid?: BIPP survey finds the answer

Kate Bixby, Contributing Writer

Should college athletes be paid? This question has been a heated issue among American colleges and universities in recent years. College athletes often compromise their health and bodies when playing, but reap few of the monetary benefits they earn for their schools. If athletes create significant revenue for an institution, why should they not be paid for their efforts?

This past October, the Bucknell Institute for Public Policy (BIPP) interviewed 1,215 respondents, and then drew a sample of 1,000 to produce the final dataset. The poll briefly described a recent California bill that allows college athletes in that state to make money from their own image and likeness, and then asked if the participant would “oppose this law, or have no opinion about it?” The following question asked whether students agreed or disagreed with the following statement: “College athletes who earn revenue for their schools should be paid above and beyond any scholarship they receive.”

The reported data was examined on differences of race, gender, age and political party, revealing disparities in opinion between the various groups. One of the most apparent variation was between political parties: In the first question, 62 percent of Democrats polled supported the California law, compared to the 34 percent of Republicans and 43 percent of independents who supported the bill. Moreover, in the second questions 14 percent of Black and 17 percent of Hispanic respondents oppose the bill, while 37 percent of white respondents disagree.

The data reveals that this topic is in fact, up for debate. Here, basketball aggregates the most revenue, and athletes are often put to the test. Taylor O’Brien ’22, a guard on the women’s basketball team gave her opinion on the matter, “Student athletes can’t maintain another job and be a student athlete at the same time. There’s not enough time in the day to do it all; being an athlete is a job within itself.”

Though, in theory, paying college players makes sense, the challenge would be to decide which schools pay their athletes, how much they get paid and regulations surrounding such a change in NCAA policy. Walter Ellis ’22, a guard on the men’s Basketball team, agreed, “With the revenue that men’s college basketball and college football programs bring in, I don’t have an issue with those athletes being lightly compensated on top of their scholarships. These kids bring enormous amounts of money and attention to these schools and I think a scholarship alone isn’t enough to compensate.”

In addition to a potential salary, the right to unionize has also been a proposed option to give college athletes more control over their own careers. “The ability to unionize is a big deal because once we sign our letters of intent, the NCAA and our respective universities can basically make us do whatever they want with no say from us at all,” Ellis said. “We have to play by their rules right now because, for us that have goals of playing after college, the NCAA is the path to achieve that. If we don’t abide by their rules, we risk ending our whole career. But because we don’t have the ability to unionize, we can’t do anything about it.”

Though student athletes often seem like celebrities, they really are just young adults trying to continue on their path to a career.

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