Why Should Student Athletes Be Paid?

Why Should Student Athletes Be Paid

If you don’t already know, this topic has created a large debate amongst the sports world, especially in regards to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) athletes. Today, I am going to answer the question: why should student athletes be paid? 

I acknowledge that your opinion may differ from mine, and I welcome anyone who thinks or feels differently to start a discussion in the comments section below. For this article, I’ll break it down and explain both sides of the debate, and then you can formulate your own opinion!

Let’s begin with a couple of the most common arguments against paying student athletes!


Why Should Student Athletes NOT Be Paid?


A recurring theme you’ll often hear is that student athletes receive scholarships in exchange for their talents! You would think that by removing scholarships and paying athletes a fixed salary, everyone would benefit right?

Well, not exactly… the student would be forced to pay tax on the salary, and this could reduce the amount significantly. Then on top of this, they would still have to pay for their high tuition and board costs. Even a $100,000 salary could leave a student with very little leftover, after income and state taxes.

I believe that the scholarship funds should have nothing to do with a proposed salary for the athlete. As I mentioned, student athletes are receiving the scholarship because they’ve been recruited by schools that want to improve their sports teams and strengthen their reputation amongst others.

So, if the school is gaining these benefits in return for a scholarship, then that seems equal for both parties. But, now if you add in the amount of revenue that is produced DIRECTLY because of the athletes, why aren’t they allowed to receive a portion of it?

And I’m not saying that they deserve all of the revenue, but they should at least receive some of it!



The second common argument against paying college athletes is the idea that salaries would be complex, confusing, and challenging. It creates a ton of questions that would need to be answered. For example:

  • Is there a maximum salary that players should make?
  • How do you determine salaries? Fixed or incentive based?
  • Are both male and female athletes getting paid?
  • Do all athletes earn a salary or only certain sports?

While these questions do arise, the complexity that comes with paying student athletes should not be outweighing the need to do so. The NCAA and other college athletic boards simply need to dedicate some time towards solving this issue. If they fail to do so, students will suffer!



3 Reasons Why Student Athletes Should Be Paid?

While there are many more reasons as to why they should be getting paid, here are three that I think stand out the most:


1: National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Revenue!

Did you know that the NCAA brought in roughly $1 billion of revenue during the 2016-2017 school year? Yes, you read that correctly. ONE BILLION DOLLARS! And you’re telling me that the student athletes… the ones who provide the entertainment, the reason people purchase tickets, and the “workers” of the college/university, are getting absolutely nothing in return. Not a penny of that revenue actually goes towards the athletes. And regardless of how much money the NCAA ends up making, they refuse to pay their college athletes.

Not only this, but these student athletes are also strictly prohibited from profiting off of their name or image. This means that they cannot use their OWN name, image, or likeness, to earn money for themselves. By having this rule, they are essentially claiming the rights to their students’ names and images. How is this fair? 

It wasn’t until a recent vote by the NCAA Board of Directors that unanimously voted in favour of overturning the policy. However, the details of a new rule are still being worked out and are described as being extremely complex and challenging. Sorry current athletes, it might be a few years before this goes into effect!


2: It’s a Full Time Job!

If you’ve never experienced the life of a college student athlete, you might think all they have to do is play a game and practice a few times a week. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case! When they aren’t in a practice or game, the athletes are doing things like training in the weight room, watching films, and travelling across the country for games. 

And it doesn’t end there… as you know, student athlete is two words for a reason, meaning student AND athlete. Just because they are on the school team, doesn’t mean that they are excused from the heavy workloads of their courses. These athletes have to maintain a certain GPA, and this becomes very difficult when most of their time is being spent training. 

Reasons Why Student Athletes Should Be Paid

This is especially true when they are travelling for tournaments, like the March Madness Men’s Basketball one. These games require student athletes to miss extended periods of class (which they have paid for), and while they might be gaining exposure for their future, other companies are profiting off of tickets, concessions, and television viewers. 

Do you see what I mean now? Being a student athlete is no different than a full time job, so it’s about time we start paying them accordingly.


3: Injury Risks!

This one does not require any real sports knowledge to understand. College athletes, especially the ones in contact sports like football or basketball, are extremely at risk of suffering an injury. Sometimes, significant injuries can end their professional careers before they even begin.

If you follow the NCAA, you might have heard of some names like Alabama’s star Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. He recently suffered an injury in college that could affect his draft status. Another recent scare was by a  basketball player out of Duke and first round pick by the New Orleans Pelicans, Zion Williamson. Although he recovered from a serious foot injury, many thought that his career could have been over. 

What I’m trying to say is that everyone can get injured… BUT when it happens before someone’s career even starts, their entire life’s work and determination to get to that point is thrown out. And the worst part, they would have made absolutely nothing in return. This is why contracts exist in professional sports, in case of injury!

Paying student athletes will at least compensate them for the efforts they made to generate revenue that they will never receive. These athletes pour their blood, sweat, and tears into their teams, and they should be rewarded for doing so!


Agree or Disagree?

I hope you now understand some of the reasons why student athletes should be paid! If you disagree, I am open to discussing it in the comment section below! 

Want to hear more about my perspective on the sports world? Click here to see all sports-related articles!

Thanks for reading!



18 Replies to “Why Should Student Athletes Be Paid?

  1. Apparently, the student athletes are a vital part of the school’s sporting success. Referencing your first point, I really do not see how it can be justified to replace the student-athletes’ scholarship with a salary. As you rightly pointed out, the scholarships are not just handed out to the students. If anything, the students are helping the schools improve their sporting status and as a result, increase their revenue. I think student-athletes should be placed on salaries. Great perspective!

    1. Hi Rhain! Thanks for sharing your opinion. I agree that since athletes are contributing to the schools’ revenue, they should be compensated 🙂 

  2. Many thanks to you for sharing such a beautiful article with us! I’m an athlete myself and I’ve been thinking for a long time that someone should write an article about our payroll and realize we deserve pay. This definitely demands praise for writing about the topic. I love the arguments you put forth in your article. There are many of us who get scholarships to do good in their life of studying. So, I think I should be paid a scholarship to be a good athlete. I think it will serve as inspiration!

    1. Hello Shanta! Thank you for sharing your perspective. That is really cool that you are an athlete! What sport do you play?

  3. I really liked your article. I think your article will benefit us all. I don’t think it’s a bad thing that student athletes play for money because players have a lot of risks. So, I agree with you that student athletes should be paid. Thank you so much for sharing a beautiful article!

  4. I know we might be in the minority here but I believe that student athletes should be paid and compensated for their hard work and risk they carry putting it on the field out there every time.  I think that a lot of students don’t mind because they enjoy it but a lot would like to get money that they think they earned. Were you a student athlete before?

  5. Hello, I am Victor Emmedaous Kondoh IV. This article is splendid, thoroughly analyzed. My 4 sons are all part of the Varsity Baton twirling team. My eldest son has worked hard for years to master his Baton Twirling form while also balancing school. His hard work and determination deserve to be seen and recognized. Baton Twirling is an art form.

  6. Despite the fact of getting a scholarship, I think that the student athletes should be paid a salary or a bonus. Their efforts are bringing money in and they are the ones putting all the physical efforts and injury risks on the table.

    If there was no money generated I would be against them being paid, but it looks unfair for them not to be paid. Both genders should be treated equally and I think the salary should be based on a performance KPI.


    1. Hi Jordan! Thanks for the comment! I am glad you agree with my opinion and that both genders should be treated equally 🙂

  7. I agree with the suggested approach. I’d also help the local halls to get an extra income by tax collection. The fact of distinguishing scholarships Vs salary will also help by taking off the linkage between athletic and academic performance (for their own good).

    This is great if you observe that athletes’ lives would be under their own control (if they suffer an injury, and by that moment they have gotten a surplus in saving, they’d be able to continue their education without further regrets).

    It’d be good for most of the people involved in the industry (but the industry managers – the NCAA).

    Thanks for sharing a great post in regard to this controversial topic!

  8. I agree with you! I was a basketball athlete student in 2010. It is true what you said that those of us who were offered to be student athletes received a scholarship in the form of free tuition, accommodation and a little allowance (mine, around 1000 USD / month). However, in 2012, I suffered a quite severe ankle injury, even the effects of the pain are still felt today. And I was not given any compensation.
    On the other hand, I also have to get a certain GPA so that the scholarship is still given. If not, I have to pay my own tuition. But to manage the time between college and sports is very difficult. Even after routine training every day, I had to continue staying up late to study.
    Really 4 years of torture.
    Therefore, I feel the regulations for student athlete must be changed. At the very least, we were given a small compensation for tickets sold in each competition we had, maybe 1%? And even though it’s 1%, I think it can really help us. At least, after graduating from college, we have a little savings that can be used for our needs. Because I believe that all student athlete definitely has no focus on study. Their focus is only to improve skills and be able to win from the next opposing team, and so on and so on until graduated from college.

    1. Hi Asmadi! Thanks for sharing your story and bring up the aspect of maintaining your GPA. This is extremely difficult for athletes to keep up with as they are missing so much class time. I hope your ankle feels better soon. Thank you for commenting 🙂

  9. This has always been a big issue when talking with the rest of my family.  Most of the men in my family feel that the students should not be paid other than receiving scholarships.  Once a student has finished school and doesn’t go onto the professional team that they played in it is just like the rest of the world and how it works.  If we start paying the college players then why not pay the high school players as well.  I don’t want to argue the point but I personally think it will give the college players a big head and then it will end up just the pros and we all know they are way overpaid for what they do.  I mean look at the NFL minimum pay something towards $300,000 a year and yet I bust my butt every day and don’t make $50,000 a year and that’s before taxes.  

    Ok so the rant is over and I want to tell you that you have put together a great article and have lots of great knowledge to share with us all.  Thank you so much for putting this question out there in front of the fans.  All the best to you 


    1. Hey Douglas! Thank you so much for sharing your opinion with us! I totally agree with the point you made about the high minimum pay in the NFL! I guess from your perspective, the college players make the money once they reach the NFL! My only concern is for those who suffer career ending injuries or don’t get noticed because they didn’t receive playing time in college! Those student athletes unfortunately have to suffer instead. Thanks for the kind words though 🙂

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