To pay or not to pay?

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The NBA playoffs have come to an end with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors advancing to face off for the 2018 title. 

As I watched the seventh and deciding game between the Warriors and the Houston Rockets on Monday night, I got to thinking about the economics of the NBA Finals. 

Steph Curry (GS) is hauling in $34.68 million. LeBron James (CC) is close behind, making $30.96 million, while Kevin Durant (GS) and Klay Thompson (GS) are raking in $26.54 and $15.5 million respectively. Granted, these are among the top players in the NBA, but still, those numbers boggle the mind. 

These are just four players, so you know that the money that is made throughout the finals has to be in the hundreds of millions, if not more.

While a few NBA players make it to the big time based on their high school careers alone, that is a rarity. Most need a few years of college ball at least to get the call for the pros.

With that in mind, the question of whether college athletes should be paid occurred to me. 

I know that college sports have always been an arena that is preserved for the amateur athlete, and for the most part I have been a firm supporter of that idea. Playing collegiate sports should not be a business. It should be done for the purity of the game.

However, today is that ideal something that should be perpetuated?

Obviously, professional sports are multi-billion dollar industries, but so are those same sports at the collegiate level. 

In 2017, the NCAA Basketball Tournament alone raked in more than $1 billion. In the same year, the average revenue from football in the NCAA was more than $30 million.

Coaches of these teams — as well as the universities they play for — are rolling in cash, yet the athletes that pull in that revenue are required to maintain amateur status. Granted they are often going to school on generous scholarships, but scholarships only cover so much. 

The money they receive pays for tuition and fees as well as room and board, but the latter only applies if the athletes live on campus. 

My daughter played basketball at the junior college level for a short time, and though her career was brief, it was long enough for me to get first-hand experience of the demands placed on a college athlete.

Though her season ran from November to March, she was working out with her team in the weight room and in the gym beginning in August. In addition, she was required to attend study tables eight hours a week. She also had to attend all classes while maintaining a certain GPA.

She was a walk-on so did not receive any kind of financial aid for playing, and due to the demands of the sport she did not have time in her schedule to have a job. If those are the kinds of demands made on a JuCo player, imagine the kind of pressures placed on an NCAA Division 1 player!

So, should a collegiate athlete be paid to play? I have to say that I think the answer to that question should be yes. 

Now, I’m not saying that college players should make a salary that has them living in the lap of luxury. However, given they are not able to get a job of any kind that they can use to pay their bills, perhaps a living wage is in order. 

They are bringing in crazy numbers in revenue for the universities and coaches for whom they play, so I think they should be compensated for their efforts.

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