"Just an Amateur"

     In the miraculous world of sports, student athletes are an embodiment of a young core of amateur athletes aspiring to play in the pros. Not only do they look up to become one with the professional players, but they also serve as role models, teachers, and inspiration to the generation below them, paving a path for new student athletes. When it comes to college athletics, It represents a tier of elite athletes that emerge from their own talent and receive recognition from their peers.  

     It is known that the NCAA’s Division 1 athletes are specifically the center of attention to spectators, sports enthusiasts, and future student athletes all around the world. As the get most of the attention from everybody, the NCAA sets a strict standard to these athletes, as they are not fit to become “professional athletes” in their eyes. As they endure their lives through rigorous practices and games, they must also maintain their grades and student image, while not earning a single dime or penny from anywhere.

     As The NCAA makes billions of dollars of revenue from televised games and marketing these athletes, it makes you think of the question: should these athletes stand up the NCAA’s strict regiment and fight for fair compensation?

     On February 20th, 2019, A prestigious rivalry basketball game between Duke and UNC became one of the top watched games of the month, mainly to watch star player Zion Williamson dominate the court. Although people were willing to spend up to $3,500 for tickets to see the game, it only took 30 seconds in the game for a shockwave of disbelief to rupture basketball fans everywhere as Zion had injured his knee by blowing out his shoe.

     As Duke lost its star player, The NCAA was making millions of revenue of TV commercials and sponsors. After an injury that damaged his draft stock and market value, Zion could not be fairly compensated due to him being an “amateur” through the NCAA’s vision. This is another story in a book full of grievances.

     “Zion Williamson makes Duke millions of dollars and he doesn’t get paid any of it,” says Senior Basketball player Tariq Fuller. He answered in a very convincing tone that could make someone stutter when trying to spill out a rebuttal. “He almost blew out his knee …. That could influence his career and make it so his family could provide…. but Duke made a ton of money that he will never receive.”

     The controversy of student athletes getting compensated, draws a line of different opinions left and right. For people that are against student compensation, three main arguments include: “They get free scholarships” or “They wouldn’t work hard enough if they were paid”; or most importantly “there still amateurs, not pros.”

     “Their living for free, their eating for free… so I think that's good enough,” say VES basketball player Bryce Waterman. Out of my pure judgement, I assumed that he would take the sides of the student athletes, but I was proved wrong. “And if they do get paid some of the would just settle with the money over four years….. The only way you should get paid should be be in the pros.”   from one student athlete to many others, I wonder if he knew how it was to get into the pros.

     Making it from college to the pros is a precise game that only a selected few can win.  An example is that D1 football players only have a 3.9% chance to become draft eligible, and a 1.6% to make it to the pros. The selected few are the only ones that escape this cycle, while the ones that did not make it are trapped by the harsh cycle of the NCAA.

     The people who are usually for student compensation argue that the students work hard everyday without making a single dime from a billion dollar organization. “They are going to further their careers…. They don't have time to get a job outside because of dedicating their lives in the classroom and in their sport” says sophomore Caroline Newcomb. Although her answer was simple enough, she protected her voice in an educated manner, one with passion and knowledge.

     If these schools could realize the potential value of these players, why are they keeping them trapped inside a rigid cycle that chews them up and spits them back out? This system that is built on a foundation of labor that is highly credited, appreciated, and praised but oppressed by a foundation that will obtain, and throw away its “employees” talent and pride.

     With the ongoing war between the NCAA and its elite D1 athletes, it brings awareness to the concept of power, greed, injustice, and corruption. As the consumers are entertained with the glory of sports at its purest form, they don't recognize the backbreaking tactics that is used on its players. Could it be that these “amateurs” deserve a break after all?