Are College Athletes Compensated?

Collegiate Athletes Work Hard, But That Doesn't Mean They Should Be Paid

We all work hard at something, we all have our commitments outside of the classroom.

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After the recent college admission scandal, it seems I can't go anywhere without hearing something about college tuition, college athletes, and debates over what's fair and what's not. We are probably all tired of hearing it by now. The students admitted to universities via bribery wiggled their way in with fake test scored and fake athletic resumes.

However, it's a new week and after all this drama and debate, it's worth considering the differences between student-athletes and general students.

I want to make this part clear: I was never a collegiate athlete myself. However, from childhood leading up to college, I was a competitive gymnast who trained five hours a day, five days a week. This was my life for years. I woke up, went to school, went to practice, came home, showered, ate, did homework, and slept. REPEAT REPEAT REPEAT. This was my life for years. I wanted to be a collegiate gymnast and I had every intention of becoming one, up until an injury took that opportunity away. STILL, I understand the stress and pressure of balancing school and sports.

Now that I've laid that out there, I'm just going to say it.

College athletes should NOT be paid to play and compete for their college.

I'm not biased; if anything...I'm the opposite. I can go on and on about how my life used to revolve around athletics, and perhaps if I had done collegiate sports myself, my opinion would differ, but deep down, I truly believe paying collegiate athletes would do more harm than good, especially considering the recent college controversies surrounding admission, athletics, and impartiality.

So, why shouldn't collegiate athletes be paid for their contribution to a college? Well, for starters, let's remember why these athletes are where they are in the first place. By this, I mean the colleges they attend: athletes are in college to learn first, and to play second. Otherwise, I'm sorry, but your athletic standing means little if you aren't academically qualified to play or compete for your team and school.

Also, I work hard too. If athletes will make the argument that they should be paid for their hard work and dedication, doesn't my near 4.0 GPA deserve some monetary recognition too? Of course not! I shouldn't be paid to be a hardworking student, just as a student-athlete shouldn't be paid to be a hardworking student-athlete. We all knew what we were signing up for when we committed to our universities. We are all good at something, but that doesn't automatically mean we should be compensated for it.

Not to mention, wouldn't paying collegiate athletes defeat the entire purpose of collegiate sports? I was under the impression that once an athlete is paid, they become a "professional athlete." In other words, the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), the non-profit organization governing athletes at 1,268 institutions nationwide, is focused on providing safe and equitable competition, while properly integrating intercollegiate athletics into higher education so that the "educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount." DON'T YOU SEE: Even the NCAA says schooling is the most important, not sports! If we can learn one thing from the college admission scandal, it's that hard work, and not money or bribery is the key to success.

Okay, now I get to bring a little bias in, because so far I've been pretty impartial, or at least that's what I've been striving for. I'm a college student as well. I also need my classes and also need to graduate. So, athletes, you already get many perks, why do you also demand money?

Let's start with the obvious perk of being a student-athlete:

Free or decreased tuition. Depending on the collegiate level, and the individual athlete's contribution to the team, a student-athlete may not have to pay to attend a university. This is clear to most. And I don't disagree that athletes shouldn't have to pay tuition, although doesn't that help your family more than you personally? Sports are expensive, and my family is no stranger to paying an obscene amount to help support my gymnastics career. In that sense, it's not a bad thing for families to have a break when they've already been paying so much to help their kids' athletic dreams come true.

Coming back to the actual student-athlete and more of those perks. I'm not sure about other schools, but when you're an athlete at UCLA, you're treated like royalty. The decked out attire includes backpacks, university apparel, school supplies, etc. Not to mention, new apparel is handed out every year to all athletic-students, not just to the incoming freshman class. Student-athletes are given academic assistance, tutors, and early admission, not to mention, personal and private college counselors. If you know anything about college, especially at a big public institution, it's that counselors are impossible to see and classes are impossible to get. The competition is simply too big.

College sports are essential to a true college experience, and the athletes make college more exciting and thrilling to attend. There is something about college football that brings communities together for the good of the sport and the love of the game. That should never be taken away. But, why must these student-athletes be compensated with money?

The answer is: they shouldn't.

When I did gymnastics, my best memories were about the love I had for the tedious hard work and pain it brought me. This is because the sport made me a stronger person. But it made me strong because I willingly chose to participate in it because it made me happy. If money was a factor in the equation, my love for the game would have turned into a chore. Rather than enjoying the hobby and sport I dedicated myself too, gymnastics would become a job, a task, a responsibility.

There is nothing wrong with becoming a professional athlete and making your hobby and passion your job or career. Still, there is an appropriate time and place for that, and that is not in college. College is a time for academic learning, where college cultures compete for academic standing and athletic excellence. And let's be real, all college athletes understood the hard work of being a student-athlete in high school. What makes college so different? You're still in the classroom and still on the field.

You got to love what you do in order to be good at it. If you must be compensated with money for your efforts, do you even love what you do?

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A Thank You Letter To The Best Teammate I've Ever Had

There's no "I" in team.
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We all have those amazing memories when it comes to sports. Sometimes it is from winning tough games, but most of the amazing memories that we have come from the teammates that we shared those wins with. Teammates are the people who you spend so much time with that you eventually become a family. Teammates do more than help just win a game; they can be there through everything. There's always that one teammate that stands out from the rest, and this letter is for you.

Thank you for being selfless.

Looking back, I remember a lot of teammates. Some were great and some were not that great. I've had teammates who have only cared about their playing time. I've had teammates that have only cared about if they score more goals or more points than anyone else. You did not care about that. If the coach told you to play a position that you did not want to play, you still played it without a complaint. If I was tired at a certain position and wanted to switch you, you did it. You never complained about where you were playing or how many goals you had; you just wanted the team to win.

Thank you for having my back.

The best kinds of teammates are the ones that support you no matter what you do. I got a red card? That referee is stupid. I got into a fist fight during a game? You were the first one next to me swinging. Some girl makes fun of me on social media for messing up in a game? You were roasting her in her mentions. Even if I was right or wrong, you always supported me no matter what I did.

Thank you for seeing me at my worst and building me back up.

There are always times in an athlete's life where we run to the point to where we need to throw up. There are times where we go through games and miss too many shots. There are times where we get a little too mad at our coaches and feel as if we cannot deal with it anymore. You were the one that got me through it. When I was in the middle of a run and my lungs were burning, you stayed right next to me and reminded me that there wasn't much longer to go, even if there was. You always reminded me how capable I was by yelling at me and telling me to go score. You've seen me tired, sweaty, crying, screaming and throwing up. After all that, you still went out of your way to build me back up and I cannot thank you enough for that.

Thank you for making me love the game.

Without people like you, I would have had a very rough ride through my sports career. I have had teammates that have made me go home crying because they were so mean and rude. I have had teammates who have only cared about themselves. Without you, I would've forgotten what a good teammate is. Looking back, all I remember is the celebrations, the screaming random songs in cars and us hating each other's exes automatically... Then talking about all these things at practice. Thanks for being a leader with me. Without you and the rest of the team, I would not have loved the sport that I played.

Cover Image Credit: Cheap Seats Photography

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The First Time My Mistakes No Longer Controlled My Life

Mistakes suck, and though I've conquered a few, I'm still learning.

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The whistle blows as the team cheers on.

My heart pounds as if it will burst out of my chest at any given moment and I taste the salty sweat trickling down my face. I must serve over the net, I must get it in, I must ace my opponent or I will fail. Fear.

In his first inaugural speech, President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously stated, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Such a statement proves powerful to the matured minds of society; however, in the minds of some adolescents, this declaration appears somewhat foolish, as numerous "threats" ignite fear, thus causing teens to grow anxious.

A major cause for fear in the rising generation takes form in failure. In the eyes of these people, making a simple mistake paves the way towards absolute failure; therefore, perfectionists constantly walk on eggshells attempting to do the impossible: avoid human error. This mentality gives way to constant stress and overall disappointment, as perfection does not apply to human beings. If one can come to the realization that not one person can attain perfection, they can choose to live life in ease, for they no longer have to apply constant pressure upon themselves to master excellence. The fear of failure will no longer encumber their existence, and they can overcome situations that initially brought great anxiety. I too once put great pressure on myself to maintain perfection, and as a result, felt constantly burdened by my mistakes. However, when I realized the inevitability of those mistakes, it opened the door for great opportunities. The first time I recognized that failure serves as a tool for growth allowed me to no longer fear my mistakes, and instead utilize them for my own personal growth.

The whistle blows as the team cheers on. My heart pounds as if it will burst out of my chest at any given moment, and I taste the salty sweat trickling down my face. I must serve over the net, I must get it in, I must ace my opponent. As hard as I try, I fail; as the ball flies straight into the net and thuds obnoxiously onto the gym floor, so does my confidence. I feel utter defeat, as I know my fate. My eyes water as my coach immediately pulls me from the game, sits me on the bench, and tells me to "get my head into the game" instead of dwindling on past errors. From then on I rarely step foot on the court, and instead, ride the bench for the remainder of the season. I feel defeated. However, life does not end, and much to my surprise, this mistake does not cause failure in every aspect of my life. Over time, I gradually realize that life does not end just because of failure. Instead, mistakes and failure pave the way toward emotional development and allows one to build character. In recognizing that simple slip-ups do not lead to utter failure, I gain perspective: one's single mistake does not cause their final downfall. Thus, this epiphany allowed for my mental growth and led me to overcome once challenging obstacles.

Instead of viewing mistakes as burdens, one should utilize them as motivation for future endeavors. The lesson proves simple: all can learn from their mistakes. However, it is a matter of choosing to learn from these mistakes that decide one's future growth. Instead of pushing faults away, I now acknowledge them in order to progress. Before coming to such a realization, I constantly "played it safe" in sports, fearing that giving my best effort would lead to greater error. I did not try, and as a result, I rarely failed.

Although such a mentality brought forth limited loss in terms of overall team success, it also brought forth limited, individual success. Today, fear of failure no longer controls life on the court. I use my mistakes as motivation to get better; instead of dwindling on an error made five minutes prior, I focus on the form needed to correct it. As a result, skills will constantly improve, instead of regress. Thus, errors serve as blessings, as it is through these errors in which one can possess the motivation to better themselves.

For some, fear acts as an ever-present force that controls every aspect of life. In particular, the fear of failure encumbers perfectionists, as the mere thought of failing causes great anxieties. In the past, I have fell victim to the fear of committing a mistake, and as a result, could not go through life without feeling an overwhelming sense of defeat. However, in a moment of what appeared to be a great failure, I finally recognized that life does not end due to one mistake, let alone one million. Instead, mistakes pave the way toward personal development and provide essential motivation to succeed in everyday life. Without mistakes, it proves difficult to grow in character. One must first learn to accept their faults before they can appreciate their best qualities. Thus, the fear of failure inhibits the growth of an individual; therefore, all must come to the realization that essentialness of mistakes, as they allow for the further development of overall character.

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