The Unfair System Against College Athletes

Bridget Reyes

 As California begins the process of becoming the first state allowing college athletes to profit off of their names; the debate on whether or not they receive pay is being revisited. 

In America, college sports are taken passionately mainly in rural areas, which brings profit to the school and not the actual player. For example, Alabama State University’s football program won the National Championship in 2019 which generated $48.2 million in revenue in their athletic program, according to With a massive revenue income, not a single penny went to the football players themselves. 

Although some teachers at DVC make a compelling argument on the nonpayment of college athletes. The lack of evidence and reasoning does not support their claim.

Donald Puathasnanon, a former UCLA volleyball player, expressed that covering college tuition should be enough for college athletes. He also mentioned that those who are on full scholarships shouldn’t be the ones who receive pay yet those who aren’t should receive pay. 

 “For example, full scholarship people, everything’s paid for school, living expenses, and some money for food. So it’s not like you’re living off nothing. They’re making sure that you’re doing everything you need to do. And whatever you need to be able to play a sport and perform as a student-athlete,” said Donald Puathasnanon.  

While the argument comes from a different perspective it still doesn’t justify the blood, sweat, and tears these athletes shed, I also can’t help but wonder about all of the college athletes, from full-ride scholarships to partial scholarships, who sacrifice their bodies to play for these schools and still have to balance between school and their athletics.

“Well, my experience was a really eye-opening experience. Number one, it threw me into a position where I had to be organized and at the same time, take care of all of my responsibilities because I didn’t have a lot of free time, every minute was accounted for, whether it was training, I had to perform at the highest level on both ends, physically and mentally,” said Christopher Jackson, 9th grade English teacher and former University of Iowa football player. 

Many college athletes sacrifice their bodies to pursue their dreams and when an unexpected injury comes into play, new questions arise. Who pays for their medical expenses? Although many schools do cover medical expenses, there are cases in which some schools have not. According to Bleacher Report, the NCAA could cover medical expenses but it depends on the final decision of the NCAA.

For example, the case for Kyle Hardrick, a former basketball star for Oklahoma State University,  ultimately lost his luck and suffered a knee injury. While he was expecting to recover peacefully he eventually found out that he would have to cover all of his medical expenses, therefore, he had to pay $10,000 from his pocket. Now, if students received pay than the current college student-athletes, like Kyle, wouldn’t have to worry about financial issues or their future as a student and athlete. 

Setting injuries aside, athletes who make names for themselves can’t profit off of their popularity from the media. For example, Zion Williamson was a star basketball player for Duke University before getting drafted as the #1 Draft Pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Zion had created a following since high school with his infamous dunks and his incredible power. When he chose Duke on decision day, the world knew he was going to be BIG. 

While playing for Duke, Zion has gotten attention from NBA legends like Michael Jordan and former president Barack Obama. So you’re probably wondering why I would be mentioning Zion? And that’s because Zion Williamson made Nike lose $1.1 BILLION in stock value pretty much overnight. How you may ask? Well, in an NCAA Playoff game, also known as March Madness, Duke was against North Carolina. In less than a minute into the game, Zion had an apparent knee-injury that caused his Nike shoes to break apart. In his college career, he couldn’t make money with any companies or use his name for profit and for a kid who made Nike lose billions of dollars, he remained unpaid. 

As California made headlines about their new law, California’s Fair Play Act, many outspoken athletes like Lebron James have shown their support. James urges his followers to call the senate and voice their support as well. Since California’s new movement has created heaps of commotion, some states have been considering taking the same approach. 

The NCAA had announced that college athletes would be able to profit off of their names. Since this is going in the right direction there is still criticism against the NCAA. The NCAA has been called out, as they should be, for not acting sooner. This action was made since there has been pressure surrounding the NCAA for not giving their athletes pay. As others criticize there are others who don’t think twice about it and celebrate. 

In the end, college athletes should receive pay. Although we are heading in the right direction the ultimate goal would be for the NCAA and colleges to pay their athletes in full salaries. As a sports community, we have to come together and speaking on the unfairness that college athletes have. But for now, let’s rejoice and celebrate a new chapter in college sports.