In 2016, March Madness, a widely watched NCAA basketball tournament in the US, generated over 1 billion dollars for the NCAA according to Tim Parker from Investopedia. Ever wonder why the NCAA can accumulate so much money through events like March Madness, yet the student athletes are not paid?
The NCAA, short for National Collegiate Athletic Association, is an organization that helps athletes be able to play sports while also being able to attend college. What the players receive in return for playing is of course a scholarship to a university. This can be extremely valuable as USA Today estimates that a mens basketball scholarship is worth $120,000 per year. In total, 150,000 athletes receive over $2.5 billion per year in scholarships (NCAA.org).
Do these scholarships compensate atheltes for all of the work they have to do to maintain them? Nancy Armour from USA Today states, “The NCAA limits in-season practice to 20 hours a week. But when you factor in time spent in the weight room, studying film, with trainers or doing anything else related to their sport, it is more like 32 hours or more, according to a 2011 NCAA survey.”
So how could the NCAA compensate these student-athletes other than directly paying them? One idea students interviewed had is to provide healthcare for the athletes who continued to play after college, so that they are able to take care of any injuries that have resulted from playing college sports. When student-athlete, Felix King, who attends the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, was asked if he believes that NCAA student athletes should be compensated for their work, his response was, “I believe athletes shouldn’t be paid at this time in their career because this is still a love for the game aspect more than a professional [one].” Michael Smart, a student-athlete at Eureka College responded, “I believe that players should still be able to have medical insurance for a few years after they leave college because of the injuries that may have been accumulated throughout their college years from sports.” There are differing viewpoints about how athletes can be compensated by the NCAA while still having “student” in their title.