Pay to Play
You Heard It Here Last
For years, the “one-and-done” issue in college basketball has been hotly debated. Is it right to require athletes—who will ultimately become professionals—to forego a year’s worth of income simply for the sake of education?
I think no, and if someone is good enough at sports to be playing professionally, they ought to be able to earn a living at whatever point in life they see fit. The NBA seems to agree with me and recently created a college alternative for athletes coming out of high school. These top prospects can now sign in the G League (the NBA’s minor league) for up to $125,000 to fulfill their year’s requirement between high school and the NBA.
Many college basketball fans have worried this will take away from the quality of their school’s program and from the quality of NCAA basketball as a whole. I tend to agree with that sentiment, but requiring athletes to attend college for just a year hasn’t worked either. Student athletes across all sports who seem to have a bright athletic future are often caught cheating and/or slacking their way through their college career. From another angle, it is often debated whether or not colleges are abusing the marketability of some athletes, in that often times the college could make a significant amount of revenue thanks to their athletic programs.
Additionally, there’s speculation and accusation (though it often goes unverified) about schools paying their athletes under the table, in order to incentivise them beyond what scholarships the school can offer.
I think there’s only one effective solution to these problems; why not just allow schools to pay their athletes? There’re obvious problems with this idea (particularly that there would need to be a salary capping system that allowed smaller schools to still land star talents,) but it seems fair that someone who markets, takes part in and takes on risk as a result of an activity ought to get paid for it beyond the level of a scholarship (which, in the case of NCAA basketball, can have almost no value to the player.)
If the NCAA doesn’t soon implement some sort of payment-based incentive, it’s likely that other sports will follow the lead of the NBA, and that NCAA athletics will lose much of their appeal and ultimately their profitability.
Tyler Dean is a senior studying finance and math.