TIME OUT with Alex Mitchell: 10/07/11

Greetings from Raleigh, N.C., where Tech just downed N.C. State, despite the team’s worst offensive game of the young season.

With nothing sparking my interest after this sloppy game, I have decided to talk about a subject that I am sure some of my more athletic classmates will take some interest in. That is the issue of paying student athletes for playing their respective sports.

It is easy to see why some people would be in favor of college athletes getting paid what with the billions of television dollars that get tossed around, increasing corruption in athletics and the sad picture that the media portrays of poor college athletes.

But I am not one of those people.

While it may seem that college players are struggling while men in suits count their money, the fact is that only about a dozen of athletic programs make a profit. So if this is true, then where will athletic programs get the money to pay the players?

Some programs could get plenty of money from boosters to pay the players, but other schools do not have donors with deep pockets that care about athletics.

The sad truth is that most schools could not even come up with the money to pay the players, so if the NCAA were to allow schools to pay players, it would lead to even more inequality in college athletics.

Would you rather get paid to play for Alabama or get nothing to  play for Auburn? The level competition in the Iron Bowl would become obsolete almost instantly.

Colleges could raise the money to pay players by raising the mandatory athletic fee on students. How would you like to start paying your classmates to compete against you in class?

Or they could try to raise capitol by increasing ticket prices. Then Bobby Dodd would be even more of a ghost town than it has been so far this season.

There is not an easy solution to the problem of raising money to pay the players, or at least I am not smart enough to think of one. Where is an ECON major when you need one?

Should schools find a way to get enough cash to pay athletes, another problem I have is the issue of who gets paid what. Everybody knows that football makes the most money for the athletic department, but the folks that wrote Title IX might have an issue with football players getting paid more than the members of the softball team.

If schools still want to pay athletes, they would have to cut the programs that make the least amount of money. If that sport were a women’s sport, then the school would have to cut a men’s sport because of Title IX. Why would a school stop at one or two sports when only two make money?

Schools could end up cutting baseball or volleyball and I cannot speak for all of my peers, but I like the idea of going to a Tech sporting event on any given night. I would go insane if I had to wait a whole week to see a Tech sporting event.

Also, one thing that I love about college athletics is the motivation that the student athletes have for their respective games. College athletes play because they generally love the sport and the competition. Sure, some of them will become professionals, at which point their motivation will be about fame and money, but while they are in college, they play for the right reasons. College athletics are the purest forms of the sports and money would do what it does to most things in life: ruin it.

Instead of focusing on the lack of pocket change in college athlete’s gym shorts, focus on what they do have.

Athletes get a free education, and in the case of Tech, the athletes get a great education. They get a free place to stay, free tutoring and free books. How many of you Tech students can claim that?

College sports is great for marketing and campus morale, so do athletes get the short end of the stick considering all they do for the school? Absolutely, but they still get an honor that money cannot buy and something that not a lot of us can claim: the right to say that they were once a college athlete. Today, they will have to settle for that.

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