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Should athletes be paid?

By Anthony Rhoads

Is an education worth anything? Not much, according to some advocates of collegiate sports. One of the biggest debates in collegiate athletics today is whether college athletes should be paid. Proponents of paying college athletes say that sports generates millions of dollars in revenue and student athletes should be given a piece of that pie. They also say that student athletes work hard at their various sports and should be compensated for their time and efforts.

In reality, college athletes are already being compensated through their scholarships.

They are getting free educations because of their athletic ability. How much does a four-year college education cost these days? Tens of thousands of dollars. That sounds like pretty good compensation to me.

If a student-athlete is truly needy and qualifies for financial aid, he or she should be eligible for grants and loans to help pay for some expenses but student-athletes should not be paid to play.

If they are paid to play, then who gets paid?

Should athletes who are playing in revenue-producing sports be the only ones to get paid or should everybody be paid the same across the board? Should the starting quarterback be paid the same as a third-string offensive lineman? Should male and female athletes be paid the same? Should walk-ons be paid? I don't know what the answer is but all those issues would have to be addressed if student-athletes are paid to play. It seems like advocates of paying student-athletes are totally dismissing the value of an education.

Unfortunately, getting an education is secondary to many student-athletes and it's certainly secondary to some college sports fans.

Some student-athletes only see college as a next step to playing professionally. I don't begrudge someone who has the goal of playing professionally but you have to be realistic at the same time. No matter how talented an athletes is or how hard an athlete works, there is never a guarantee that he or she will ever play professionally. Only a small percentage of athletes make it to the pros and you have to be prepared for when your playing days are through. If you give up your education and don't make it as a pro, what do you have to fall back on? Not much.

Scoring 20 points a game or rushing for a 1,000 yards in a season isn't going to amount to much in the real world if you don't get your education.

Fans might cheer you on Saturdays when you're scoring the touchdowns but many of those same fans don't care whether you get your education or not.

Some of those fans only want you there at that school for one reason: to play sports and if you make that your sole purpose in school, you are playing into their hands.

Some of these fans and even some coaches don't care what happens to you after you're finished playing just as long as you scored your TDs or scored your points for the team. Be smart. Take advantage of your chance to get an education.

Anthony Rhoads is a sports writer for the News-Daily and Daily Herald. His column appears on Wednesdays. He can be reached at arhoads@news-daily.com or sports@news-daily.com.