Home » blog » Play Me Now, Pay Me Later

Posted by on August 21st, 2011 in blog, Brady Baylor, Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Perhaps it’s because I’ve been under my rock lately, but it seems that the “should players be paid?” conversation has been in full swing this offseason.  I can’t readily think of an issue more tailor-made for a college debate team than this one.  As an aside, how do your properly refer to a debate contest?  Is it a tournament?  Is it a competition?  Is it a sanctioned argument?  Feel free to debate it below.  First and foremost, is there anything that would muddy the waters more than introducing a “pay-for-play” system?  The list of questions would be endless, but let’s try a few:  Who is eligible for pay?  How would compensation be determined?  Would only scholarship players be privy?  Does on-field performance dictate level of pay?  Do jersey sales with a given player’s number result in direct commissions for said player?  Will the left tackle, whose jersey number no one has sought out for purchase, be delighted to protect his quarterback, who rolled up to practice in a shiny new Benz?

Now don’t get me wrong.  I, too, can be easily lured by the pro-pay arguments.  The players’ performance is what everyone pays dearly to see.  Sales of nameless, numbered jerseys appear to be a very profitable venture in their own right, so shouldn’t the no-name running back being proudly represented by legions of fans be commensurately rewarded?  Even if universities are not profiting directly from their football programs (and not all of them are raking it in as fast as we might think), a successful football program can do much to put the school’s very name on the national scene.  And how about those outlandish coaches’ salaries?  Is it equitable that coaches are living the high life while “student-athletes” dine on school cafeteria fare and struggle to pay for a bus ticket home?  Bringing the coaching salaries into the discussion is fair game, as far as I’m concerned, but I think it can ultimately be handled apart from paying players as well.

As college football fans, isn’t a big part of what we love about the game the fact that money is not (or ideally is not) part of the players’ motivation to perform?  We can get all we can handle, and then some, by watching camp holdouts piss and moan during the NFL preseason, but we take solace in the fact that our allegiances are reserved for a group of young men who simply love to play football and, sometime in late August or early September, that’s exactly what they’ll be doing, barring some unforeseen event that has nothing to do with money (save for certain Buckeyes or Hurricanes).  If we really want to hasten the demise of these youngsters, then how about we just cut to the chase and form some unholy alliances with local tattoo parlors and pimps, if we deem those things the currency of the day?

Have we forgotten the “opportunity” that is given to a scholarship player, often being a kid with no reasonable prospects of attending such a reputable institution apart from a football scholarship?  I concur that the “student” part of the “student-athlete” is not exactly emphasized in everyday practice, but any of these scholarship players can figure out that a diploma is their true meal ticket to life after football. Even as a peasant laborer in a large company, I can bemoan my place at the table while the “corporate fat cats” (to borrow a favorite term from our president) feast on the fruits of my labor, or I can work hard and be grateful for a chance to make a contribution and receive fair provision for my family in return, while the executives wrestle with decisions that can directly impact the lives of thousands of employees.  Do you see the correlation here?  I can go to a great school, play ball in front of the masses, receive loads of free gear, eat for free, sleep for free, and be part of something that encompasses much more than football, such as the pride of an entire state.  Or, I can spend those years thinking of what I didn’t get, and how someone else got rich off of me.  Side Note: I just now realized that I was using the word “I” to describe someone with actual athletic skills that could potentially be offered in exchange for a college football scholarship, which is a gross misrepresentation of the real me, so I’ll discontinue the first person and transition back into reality.  Okay, as I was saying, said college football player has much to be thankful for, and should be happy with a chance to play ball and go to school.

According to a website called Adventures in Education, the average cost of a four-year public university (tuition/fees, books/supplies, room/board, transportation, and other expenses) is $18,326, or nearly $75,000 over four years.  Another little factoid source tells me that the college football player spends an average of 43.3 hours per week on his sport (games, practices, training room, working out, film study, jersey/tattoo deals, yacht rides, free lovin’ with the pros because he plays ball, etc.).  Let’s extrapolate that 43.3 out to 10 months, because they do get some kind of a break, even if they’re spending a couple of hours a few days per week working out.  That gives me 1,876 hours per year spent on football.  Divide the annual cost of education by the football hours and you have a nice $9.77 per hour, or about $2.50 per hour more than the 2011 federal minimum wage.  Sure, it’s a paltry sum compared to an NFL payday, but don’t we need to work toward something?



9 Comments for this entry

  1. CB says:

    Wow JJK!,
    Well freaking said bro! As a matter of fact, you sound a lot like a guy I used to play college football with who had a full ride, a chip on his shoulder, never went to class, made an ass of himself at bars, pissed away his scholarship, and got a random girl pregnant his red-shirt Junior year… and blamed it all on society and “the liberals” holding him down. You talk about these bloggers being bitter??? get a grip clown. I’m not sure how politics got in this, but as a member of the Grande ole party myself, I feel embarassed when jerk offs like you give me a bad name. If by some long shot you did take advantage of a scholarship you are probably bitter about the communications degree you recieved only being good enough to land you a part time gig for a minor league baseball club as a between innings goof ball. I loved how you stated, “lets not be so bitter that you drag every college football player into your misery.” Sounds like you are the one in misery. “The universities make billions every year from the efforts of the athletes. The coaches are making serious money and, I say, good for them. The players should to.” and I agree with you (with acception to your lack of puncuation and grammer) that these athletes deserve some legit compensation for what they bring to their universities… but what do you suggest? Personally I think that a monthly stipend to help pay for the extras in life would be a nice touch. But if you are hinting at what I think you are with the comment about
    “The universities profit (BIG PROFIT!!) on the back of hard working youth”, you might want to check your figures. Yes universities make a ton of dough on athletes, but as far as big profits go???? ehhhhhhhhhhhhh

  2. DP says:

    Great points raised by Brady about the left-tackle\quarterback dilemma and the fact that a lot of colleges aren’t really “raking” in the cash. Also, the 4th paragraph of this blog is excellent; the part about college athletes needing to realize the opporutnities afforded them is dead-on. To think that it would solve their problems to just hand each player a check and call it good is absurd.
    However, to give a player a scholarship and call it good is ALSO absurd…. the bottom line is that the worth of a scholarship is being vastly overrated by previous commenters and to a certain extent the author of this piece. Many athletes who are good enough to play big-time D-1 football could quite honestly care less about getting their degree, so to say that a scholarship is a fair wage is wrong. Again, I realize it “should” be a fair wage but it isn’t, deal with it. Quit acting like a kid from the ‘hood who views college as a vehicle to get him to the NFL should value his scholarship the same way the kid from a private school who wants to be a doctor does. Won’t happen. Now I’m not saying they should open up the bank (or in this case the university endowment) for college football players, but I don’t think paying them a modest “wage” (i.e. a couple thousand bucks per year for living\entertainment expenses) would ruin the game as has been suggested by previous commenters.

    • BB says:

      DP, to be honest, I could probably be swayed into your camp (or at least one of your points), in that a couple of grand, or whatever nominal sum is agreed on, would not be terribly detrimental to the game in and of itself. That is, if every scholarship player were given the same sum, regardless of performance or perceived stature, and it was not in any way “profit sharing”. Of course, this is coming from a stalwart of Socialism, according to JJK. I want them to roll up to practice in their government-issue Prius above all.

      As for the players from the ‘hood, I agree that they may not always truly appreciate the opportunity, but that does not diminish the value of the opportunity. I don’t feel that it’s overrated by some as much as it’s undervalued by others. But that’s just one guy’s opinion, and I’m glad you’ve shared yours, a well-stated case.

  3. JJK says:

    I assume by the responses and the author’s slant on this that everyone on this chain is an absolute expert in the field of college football. I know none of you believe this, but this isn’t a simple discussion with a simple answer.

    Again by the responses, It’s probably safe to assume that none of you ever played a down of college football (probably didn’t play much high school football either but you did get to dress out for home games??) but somehow, now, you know what is best for the sport, the players and the schools. I assume most of you make some kind of salary or wage (at that assembly line you now have to work at) that is paid to you by the organization that profits from your labor. That is all that needs to be discussed here. It’s called a free market, look it up.

    I would have to guess each of you are die hard liberal Democrats that believe we should all drive same car, have same cell phone, live in same house and make same income. Wake up Einstein!! They tried that already. It was called the Soviet Union. Some of the best athletes in the world existed there. Here in the good ole US of A, a person should have the ability to earn a wage directly in proportion to his/her contribution or his/her (and his/her lawyers) ability to negotiate. That does not happen in college sports. The universities profit (BIG PROFIT!!) on the back of hard working youth. That needs to change.

    I know you’re ticked off that your life hasn’t turned out the way you wanted it to. I know your stuck in a factory instead of floating around on your yacht after a career in a sport you had no ability to play and weren’t willing to make the sacrifices so you could play but lets not be so bitter that you drag every college football player into your misery. The universities make billions every year from the efforts of the athletes. The coaches are making serious money and, I say, good for them. The players should to.

    • JS says:

      I would agree with you on one point, it is a VERY complex issue. I am very happy with my position in life and did play football, to answer your question. The problem with your whole “labor” analogy is in this case it is still viewed as an amateur sport. If you every start trying to pay college athletes, you have truly opened “Pandora’s” box. However, I do think that something needs to be done to actually compensate these athletes for “full” cost of college. When you are speaking of big time D1 football, it could probably be said that well over 50% of these athletes would not be in a position to go to these schools. Thus, having an opportunity to receive an education from said institution. ESPN U had a very good round table special on this yesterday, for those interested.

    • BB says:

      Dear JJK,

      I know you are CFF.com’s unofficial Dissenter-in-Chief and all, but you really wounded me with those comments about my playing days. I toiled for four years on the high school football team, hoping I could one day run out onto that field, in uniform, with my team. While not blessed with natural abilities such as size and speed, I worked hard, hoping against hope that I could suit up just once, so my father and my brothers could see that I was part of the team. My teammates appreciated my work ethic so much that they each tried to give their spot up for me at our final home game of my senior season. My coach finally capitulated and allowed me to suit up. With precious seconds ticking off the clock in the waning moments of a blowout victory, I was actually allowed to play the final down at defensive end. I tripped over my own feet at just the right moment, stumbling into the legs of the opposing team’s quarterback, resulting in a sack. My teammates were so ecstatic that they rushed the field to carry me off on their shoulders. Sadly, they trampled me in the excitement, bringing an end to my hopes of becoming a college water boy.

      Actually, I was an average player at a small high school. I spent one year on a DII squad as a walk-on, third-string punter and, yes, I was allowed to suit up for home games (albeit never playing a down). Perhaps you can help me with my politics, but I guess you missed the part where I purposefully avoided begrudging an executive’s right to a large salary because of the responsibilities they have. Additionally, I assume you did not read where I did denounce the sense of entitlement on display by someone who spends a lifetime feeling cheated by rich people. So, in closing, those comments would appear to be coming from the opposite of a liberal mindset, but believe what you must. At any rate, thanks for chiming in. I’d love to continue, but my assistant manager (2nd shift) just told me I’ve got a fresh order in for 15 happy meals, so I’d better get back to the grill!

  4. CB says:

    Great perspective Brady. The bottom line is that these guys are ammatures not professionals. I think it would destroy the college game as we know it to implement a system of pay. I see both sides to the argument but there are so many factors that weigh in i.e. Title 9, tv deals, hold outs, a unbalanced playing field. A free education is a pretty sweet deal, coming from a guy who will be paying student loans til I’m ripe in age. The sad part is the vast majority of scholarship athletes choose not to take advantage of the opportunity for a free degree.

  5. JS says:

    Nicely put Brady!!!! Sometimes it’s easy to get drawn into the “class envy” thing. The fact that “theoretically” players don’t get paid, is certainly one of the reasons I for one, love the College game more than Pro.

Comments are now closed.