Are College Athletes Students First or Athletes?

Nasir A. - LLI Cleveland

Whether athletes should get paid or not is a topic of confusion and great debate. Some believe that if one sport gets paid that all the others have to also. Some believe that they don't because they are not professional athletes. Which brings to question, are college athletes students or athletes?

If they are athletes, the school should pay them - especially if they school makes a lot of money off of the athlete. If they are students, they don't have to be paid because they are there for an education. So should college athletes be paid?

The answer is unclear.

One reason college athletes shouldn't be paid is because they are playing an extracurricular. "Finally, even though these college student athletes may be playing at an advanced level, they still aren't playing professionally," says Madison Martinez, writer of Should College Student-Athletes be Paid? Both Sides of the Debate. You take part in an extracurricular activity because you want to. They do not have to play a sport. It is their choice, so why should they have to be paid for something they want to do. Most student athletes are already getting scholarships from the school.

Another reason college athletes shouldn't be paid is because the athletes receive scholarships. Although the sports athletes play are very time consuming, the students don't need jobs to take care of themselves. Most scholarships pay for housing and food, basic necessities - not wants. Also, "If salaries were given, then these college student-athletes would have to pay taxes," says John R. Thelin. Depending on how much the athlete makes, especially if they make a lot, taxes would take so much away that athletes wouldn't be able to pay for school, therefore they may not be able to play for the school. 

Also, if colleges were to pay student athletes they would have to pay for the other gender team. 

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be declined the benefit of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
— Title IX

For instance, if a school had a very profitable men's basketball team and a not profitable women's team, the school would have to pay both, with the school potentially losing money because of it. 

Student athletes should not be paid. They receive scholarships, sports are an extracurricular, and it could potentially make colleges lose money.


Sources Considered: 

  • "Amateurism." Web blog Post. 15 September 2017.
  • "Amateurism Eligibility Requirements." Web blog Post. 15 September 2017. 
  • Martinez, Madison. "Should College Student-Athletes Be Paid? Both Sides of the Debate." Web blog Post. Blog. CollegeXpress,  20 March 2017.
  • Boor, William. "College Athletes Do Not Deserve to be Paid, Now or Ever." College Football. Bleacher Report, 6 June 2011. 
  • Mandel, Stewart. "Why the NCAA Won't Be Paying College Athletes Anytime Soon." NCAA FB. FOX Sports, 15 Nov. 2016. 
  • Wilbon, Michael. "College Athletes Deserve to be Paid." College Sports. ESPN, 18 July 2011. 
  • Tracy, Marc and Strauss, Ben. "Court Strikes Down Payments to College Athletes." The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 30 Sept. 2015.