Letter to the Editor: Paying college athletes?

To the editor:

Paying college athletes?

Aren’t they already paid?  (This really should come as no surprise.)  They’re paid in full-ride scholarships, tutoring, national & international travel, and free access to the best coaches & trainers.  They’re paid in fame & popularity & reputation, not just as they walk across campus, looking for a date on Saturday night….but across the entire school’s alumni/fan base.  These are assets they accumulate  which last a lifetime.

Last but far from least they’re paid in the well-staged opportunity to advance their career into the professional sports stratosphere.  I certain don’t have, didn’t have, and would never have a chance to play for the Chicago Bears or Boston Celtics….but big-time college athletes do.  Is that opportunity worth nothing?

So it’s not that college athletes are NOT paid, the argument rather is that they’re not paid enough…not paid as much as they (and their very hungry agents) would prefer.  They want a bigger piece of the action, a larger slice of the revenue pie!

And thus we destroy the ‘myth’ of amateur sports….the myth of school loyalty….the myth of any deep, personal commitment to ‘the Team’ , the school, the state,…anything really other than the demonstrable commitment to $$’s.  [I saw a brief clip the other day of some no-name QB at a marginal D1 university showing the camera his newly crafted personal logo that he hopes his ‘fans’ will open their wallets to acquire.]

Not Buckeye, not Spartan, not Crimson Tide, not Hoosier, not Hawkeye, not Trojan, not Bruin — NO! Rather Steve, Bob, Bill, and Dave.  Envision the bumper stickers, the license plate holders, the cups, the stadium chairs, the banners & flags.  No longer the Cream & Crimson, — heck no — gimme a ‘Steve Flag’ (long may it wave — at least as long as their current year contract holds).  And of course they should not only choose their own personal logos but also their favorite colors:  yeah, Deron plays for KU but he really like purple and black (hope the 375K Jayhawk alumni won’t mind).

National Championships won NOT by my school or yours, whose teams used to be formed, generation after generation, with young men and women who grew-up wanting nothing else but to play for….Notre Dame!  No, now those championships will be won by the best team your Athletics Department can buy.  Kinda fills you with pride, doesn’t it?

As for the hooey about free speech protection?  C’mon.  The reason ANY college athlete is famous is because the school gives them the opportunity to compete on the national stage.  They represent the School and benefit most directly from that representation.  They are not just the average student.  They are instead the face of the University.  As that Face — yes — they do have an obligation to represent the University as the University wishes to be represented.  If that obligation is too onerous, quit the team and protest all you like.  It’s really very simple.  ‘With great power comes great responsibility’…or so they say.

You can’t have one without the other.

But sure, you want to sever the link between college athlete and college?  Go ahead.  Make yourself a farm team for the pros.  The Toledo Mud Hens do generate some reasonable crowds….maybe yours will too.

Isn’t anything more attractive and crowd-pleasing, more guaranteed to fill a stadium….than a venal 19 yr. old kid who asks us to pay him because THIS YEAR he’s wearing the Blue and Gold —  and selling us his ‘Steve’ hat.