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September 4th, 2013 12:24 pm
College football players deserve a paycheck

It was quickly apparent to anyone watching television last weekend that college football is back. On channel after channel, dozens of games were broadcast from packed stadiums courtesy of million and billion dollar television packages. Sure college football is rooted in pageantry and tradition, but the reality is that the sport has become a big business. How big? Over $2.2 billion annually.

But the young men whose talents generate astronomical sums of cash for television networks, apparel makers, the NCAA and their colleges earn, at best, a scholarship worth — including all perks — about $40,000 a year.

The value of a scholarship is dwarfed by the amount of money a star college football player earns for his school. Sports economist Robert Brown discovered that college football players who make it to the NFL were worth as much as $2.6 million to their colleges — and those figures were compiled in 2005, so that figure is substantially higher today.

College football players (and basketball players, for that matter) have startlingly little to show for carrying a billion dollar industry on their backs. They aren’t even allowed to earn a stipend from their school and, because of training and practice schedules, they can’t hold down a job like most college students. As a result, college football players are mired in a state of persistent poverty. For that reason, major college athletes have been compared, fairly, to sweatshop workers and even slaves.

Can anything done to correct this unreasonable treatment and inject reasonable market forces into the arena of college sports?

Some argue that Title IX, the (unnecessary and offensive) federal requirement aimed at increasing female participation in college sports, would prevent football players from earning a stipend. They argue that stipends would have to be doled out evenly to participants in all sports, not just athletes in profit-generating sports like football and men’s and women’s basketball. That argument, however, is incorrect.

Title IX requires equal spending on athletic scholarships for males and females in relationship to the population of men and women students at a given college. It doesn’t, however, require equal funding.

The reality is there is only one thing preventing the NCAA and universities from coming up with a stipend system to share a small amount of their revenues with players — greed.

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