College Basketball Players: Valued More Than You Know
College basketball is one of the most diligent of collegiate level sports. It is a very competitive and organized sport with all the money for facilities as well as equipment being funded by the university. College basketball consists of three divisions. Of these three, division one teams feature the most skilled athletes and their talent is broadcasted on multiple sports channels. The athletes that perform well throughout their season may have the opportunity to get drafted to the NBA. However, to achieve a certain success, they also must focus on other priorities. Student athletes perform a full-time job while playing for their college as well as studying as a student. Their schedule consists of training in the weight room as well as on the court, studying for assignments, and attending classes (Robinson). Participating in college athletics are classified as extracurricular activities however the NCAA (National College Athletic Association) creates schedules where tournaments are played into a longer period than scheduled. These tournaments cut into a major part of the regular schedule of a student where they would miss school. They would be absent from class for tournaments and games that are streamed on national television which receive millions of viewers. Since students miss most of the education which they paid for, they should be compensated for the revenue which universities earn through college basketball games. Ultimately, college basketball players should be compensated. This is because college basketball teams generate revenue comparable to professional level teams, the performance quality and the time consumption is equal to the NBA, and lastly, the risk they are taking in terms of their health.
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College basketball players should be compensated because college basketball teams generate revenue comparable to professional level teams. NBA teams such as the New York Knicks or the Golden State Warriors earned the largest amounts of revenue of above $400 million USD at the end of the 2017-2018 season which contributed to the NBA total revenue of approximately $8 billion USD (Gough “National Basketball Association teams ranked by revenue 2017/18 season”). These NBA teams make their money through a combination of many contributing factors such as ticket sales, naming rights, local TV, radio deals, leaguewide media, and many more (Wertheim). NCAA teams may not earn a similar amount as opposed to NBA teams however they earn a reasonably high income with which they should be able to provide a salary for players. NCAA teams such as the University of Louisville earned an income of approximately $44 million and Duke University earned approximately $34 million at the end of the 2018 season (Wiggins). At the end of the 2017 season, the NCAA earned its highest amount yet, with an income of approximately $1 billion. In 2018, the NCAA reached 1 billion dollars once again with over $900 million of it being earned from the basketball program. The money was received from media fees, ticket sales, sponsorships, television advertisements, most of it being earned from the three-week long tournament called “March Madness” (Parker). There is a visible difference between the two associations however, the NCAA would not be looking to grant salaries exceeding over $1 million. As players should be given salaries, there must be a reduction to salaries for coaches, especially for the ones who are overpaid. Coaches such as John Calipari and Mike Krzyzewski earn well over $5 million (“Men's College Basketball Coach Salaries.”). John Calipari earns approximately $9.2 million at University of Kentucky and Mike Krzyzewski earns approximately $7 million a Duke University (“Men's College Basketball Coach Salaries.”). Sports business columnist for The New York Times, Joe Nocera, proposed an idea for paying college athlete a minimum of $25,000. As mentioned before, giving a salary to players means reducing the salaries for coaches, thus Nocera proposed that basketball coaches would receive a salary cap of $650,000 (Hess). Nocera also argues that compensating players would save money “Is offering cash compensation really that much worse than the current system, in which universities build lavish facilities and spend absurd sums on their ‘programs’ to lure good players? Doesn’t it make more sense to give some of that money to the players? It would actually be less expensive.” (Hess). Universities and the NCAA will have to adjust their financial divisions for their programs and needs, by cutting down the sums of money used towards specific and insignificant programs. The various points display that a portion of the large amount of revenue that the NCAA earns should be compensated for college basketball players.
In addition, performance quality and the time spent working for basketball by college players are equal to the NBA. It is known that college students that have been accepted into Division 1 NCAA schools and are able to play on the Division 1 men’s basketball team for their specific school have a unique talent in basketball. The skills that players showcase for scouts during their high school games decide their future school and the next step in their life. The top players in the 2018-2019 season of the NCAA according to Sports Illustrated were Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, and Ja Morant (Staff). These three athletes performed phenomenally through the season. Williamson and Barrett averaged over 20.0 points per game which they achieved through their consistent shooting of over 45% in field goal percentage as well as averaging over 7 rebounds per game as well (Staff). Ja Morant may not have been as successful as Williamson and Barrett in the matter of their team’s outcome, however he performed well above their statistical averages. Morant brought in 24.6 points per game, as well as 10.0 assists per game, with a consistent shooting of 50.3% in field goal percentage (Staff). The top NBA players of the 2018-2019 season were listed as James Harden, Paul George, and Giannis Antetokounmpo (“Season Leaders”). Each of these players were nominated for the MVP award, which is where a certain player in the NBA has been nominated for going above and beyond the normal and showcase excellent skills consistently through every game. James Harden averaged 36.1 points per game, as well as 6.6 rebounds per game, and 7.5 assists game while playing for the Houston Rockets (“Season Leaders”). On the Oklahoma City Thunder, Paul George averaged 28.0 points per game, as well as 8.2 rebounds per game with 4.1 assists per game (“Season Leaders”). In the eastern conference on the Milwaukee Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo averaged 27.7 points per game, as well as 12.5 rebounds per game, and 5.9 assists per game (“Season Leaders”). A few of these stats may exceed the numbers achieved by the top college players however, there is also the factor of NBA players playing for twelve minutes in each quarter for a total of forty-eight minutes while college players play for two twenty-minute halves for a total of forty minutes. The statistics that are shown tell us that both NCAA and NBA players are equally talented and can give amazing results which would help improve the franchise that they are a part of. Their performances help increase the number of spectators which in theory increases revenue. Other than the amount of time being played, the only other major difference is the pressuring life off the court. These players spend more than forty hours a week working and training hard to become stronger in the game of basketball (Jacobs). The athletes put in a lot of work and transition between exercising, performing academically, practicing, then playing in games which makes it hard to handle all together (Jacobs). These athletes are performing a full-time job and living up to the name of student-athlete. For all the effort that these athletes put into their lives, they should be able to see a benefit out of it and be compensated for their efforts.
College basketball players put their bodies on the line for each game they play in and are exposed to permanent damage. Some athletes are given a scholarship and a full ride for the university for 4 years and some must pay for the tuition required each year. However, once a player has experienced a career-ending injury, the scholarship a player has received is terminated and is required to pay the regular tuition or switch schools (Piccioto). Injuries such as hurting your knee or getting a concussion can cause long term effects such as limping for the rest of your life or suffering depression (Piccioto). On February 20, 2019, the number one player in college basketball, Zion Williamson, was playing in the biggest game of his season, University North Carolina vs Duke University. Williamson sprained his knee and broke through the sole of his left shoe during the opening minutes of the game. He was out for one month of the season to go through recovery and was fortunate to make his return fully functional and healthy (Lewis). Zion Williamson was one of the more fortunate players to not receive a career ending injury. However, there are other players such as Derrick Roland, a former Texas A&M basketball star, who was on a path towards the NBA draft. On Dec 22, 2009, during his senior season, he suffered a horrific leg injury by breaking his tibia and fibula which ended his entire professional career (Frank). Many professional athletes in the NBA have suffered brutal injuries and are still making millions through the season. Their contracts are guaranteed, and they are compensated regardless of their status with the team, this factor highlights the difference between the two levels. Once a major injury occurs, that ends their career as a player. They are left with nothing in the college basketball world and are only left to finish university and earn their degree. Before there career is officially over after injury, athletes still have the medical recovery stage to go through. The NCAA requires all athletes to have a coverage for medical insurance to be able to participate in collegiate level games and team practices (McCune). However, different schools have different ways and priorities when it comes to recovering their athletes. In 2013, Kevin Ware suffered a major leg injury while playing for Louisville University and the school ended up having to compensate for his medical bill (McCune). However, this is not the same case for all students such as Kyle Hardrick, where he and his family experienced a different situation. Hardrick was playing for Oklahoma University and received a major knee injury that had him out for the season and his career (McCune). The Hardrick family discovered that they had to pay an extra $10,000 because Kyle’s insurance did not cover for all the costs that were billed. If the medical bills become a high amount, there is an insurance plan called the “Catastrophic Injury Insurance Program” which is meant to cover your medical bills that exceeds $90,000, however, most injured athletes do not qualify for this plan. (“NCAA Catastrophic Injury Insurance Program”). “If you don’t lose a limb, or motion in one of your limbs, you wouldn’t be considered catastrophically injured,” said Ramogi Huma, head of the Collegiate Players Association. “Then it’s completely up to the school, or yourself.” (Cassilo). For the athletes that do not fall under the description that Ramogi Huma states, they have two main options. They can either pay for the bill themselves with the help of their family or file a lawsuit, however even then there is a very low chance to win the case (Cassilo). These athletes go through so much and risk their health and safety to represent their school.
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College basketball players have made a huge impact for each of their respected universities and should be able to receive a financial benefit towards them. Scholarship athletes are worth so much more than their actual scholarship. With the revenue they generated, they were worth approximately $212,000 to each university program during the 2013-2014 season, which is an average of all freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors (Wakamo). All players produce win shares, which is a player statistic that divides the credit of the team’s success to each individual player (“NBA Win Shares”). These win shares are beneficial for universities as they are valued so much to the NCAA, but the athletes get no money in return. These athletes are skipping out on their education for a chance to make a professional league that may not even happen, and they are risking their body’s normal state for a game that can possibly debilitate them for their entire life. Consequently, college basketball players should be compensated for the huge amount of effort they put in towards their team.
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