Aaron Murray and the Amateur Athlete Debate
Just a few random thoughts on the NCAA Student-Athlete pay-for-play thing…
- What’s the real value of an education? Are the athletes even truly “amateur” within today’s system? How many athletes are receiving better educations because of their athletic abilities? That sounds a lot like compensation. How many are receiving free or discounted education in exchange for their work on the field/court? That sounds a lot like a job.
- If the NCAA is so paranoid about lawsuits filed by the likes of Ed O’Bannon and the continued use of “player images,” why not eliminate the grey area altogether? Instead of selling a number 11 Georgia jersey without Aaron Murray’s name and saying “oh that’s not Aaron’s jersey, it just happens to have the number 11 on it,” why isn’t every NCAA replica jersey made to feature jersey number 0. Combine that with a rule forbidding players from wearing number 0 and we might have less controversy. When EA Sports makes video games, why not use completely ridiculous jersey numbers, make all the running backs white and move on. Nobody outside of Nebraska fans would think the white running back was a representation of a real player, especially if he worse jersey number 72. The NCAA shouldn’t act surprised when players want to be compensated after the NCAA intentionally licensed items to almost mirror real college athletes.
- Everybody talks about athletic revenue profit-sharing as if it actually makes sense. The only hang-up most people see is “some sports aren’t revenue sports.” I find that predicament wildly interesting and almost comical. In reality most sports lose money for the universities involved, but athletes say they aren’t compensated fairly. If I work for a failing business should I be paid – in cash, scholarship dollars or donuts? No. Would swimmers – equally gifted but less profitable athletes – really feel much better if each sport split up its profits at the end of the year? Of course not; they wouldn’t generate enough revenue to cover scholarship expenses. On the flip side would football players really like splitting all athletic revenue with all sports? Of course not; Aaron Murray wouldn’t want his earned money going to a swimmer.
- Everyone gets bogged down at that point in the “revenue-sharing” plan. What they fail to even begin to address is the fact that no business splits revenues equally between all of its employees. I work for a three-person firm, if I got 33% of revenue (or even profits) I’d be typing on a gold-plated keyboard. My keyboard is black and dusty. Does that mean I’m poorly compensated? No. It just means that as a 25 year-old I shouldn’t be compensated on the same level as my more experienced boss who has put his own finances into starting a business. Players receive scholarship packages, assistants make money, head coaches make more money, administration makes good money. That’s a lot like a business. But…
- College athletics gets knocked for being “big business” and yet most folks who are in favor of paying athletes say things along the lines of “a big business should compensate its employees.” Do you want this to be a business or not?
- UGA estimates its out-of-state tuition, fees, room, board, books and living expenses to total $39,460 per year. Let’s pretend that an athlete “works” on his or her craft 30 hours every single week (this is extremely generous: the NCAA limits practice to 20 hours/week during season and 8 outside of the season). This gives an athlete – say the aforementioned Aaron Murray – 1560 billable hours of work each week. So with those estimated expenses, Murray earns $25.29 per hour. That’s pretty darn good pay for a college kid. But, you say, “Isn’t Murray’s skill-set rare enough to merit more payment than that?” “Yes!” is the short answer. But you’re just looking at the supply of Aaron Murray’s. Lost in that is the fact that Aaron Murray is a student-athlete. He is a college student. With the massive supply of students in any college town, what do you think the going rate for student employees is? It’s minimum wage. So from that side, isn’t Murray doing pretty good for himself? He’s making $25/hour, avoiding college debt and getting a heck of an education. I’d say he’s being compensated.
That’s all I got/