In a society where college athletes fly chartered, eat like princes and receive only the most luxurious accommodations, full-ride scholarships are no longer sufficient.
Although the NCAA shot down the proposal nearly a year ago, the buzz surrounding a $2,000 stipend for its athletes has yet to simmer and the topic is one we’ll continue to hear about until the student-athletes get their way.
The proposal: NCAA athletes spend thousands of hours on the practice field, in the weight room and in the classroom. Because their jam-packed schedule allows them minimal time to live a “normal” college life and work a job on the side, athletes should receive a stipend for additional financial support.
Though it would be a stipend that encompasses all NCAA sports, the debate has primarily surrounded collegiate football players, who often spend more time in and around a university’s athletic facilities than other athletes.
But the $2,000 proposal is blasphemous — to say the least.
The majority of college students work anywhere from 30-40 hours a week to simply afford their tuition. These include laborious fast food, supermarket and retail jobs that pay slightly more than minimum wage and still force students to take out student loans and other financial aid.
On the other hand, FBS football athletes, who, outfitted in thousands of dollars worth of free Nike equipment, spend close to the same time playing and practicing a game they’ve fallen in love with.
Their services are rewarded with hundreds of thousands of dollars of tuition money, in addition to complimentary room and board, in most cases.
But wait, there’s more.
The perks include, but aren’t limited to, priority class scheduling, an athletic-academic advisor and in the University of Oregon’s case, a 40,000 square foot, multi-million dollar academic building built solely for the purpose of its student-athletes.
In other words, a pretty darn good deal, especially if you were to compare the athlete life to that of the sophomore English major working 40 hours behind the grill at Wendy’s.
Now, we shouldn’t take anything away from the athlete, who undoubtedly has put in his or her fair share of hours in earning a Division I scholarship.
In a January USA Today article, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly advocated for his student-athletes receiving the proposed $2,000 stipend.
“The overriding factor here is that these young men put in so much time with being a student and then their responsibilities playing the sport, that they don’t have an opportunity to make any money at all, to get a part-time job,” Kelly said.
At a school like Notre Dame, where many students pay upward of $60,000 for annual tuition, the full-ride scholarship deal is one that ought to be better appreciated. Less than 1 percent of college graduates will make that sum upon graduating from their respective university.
So no, the average college football player likely won’t live the average college life. Instead, they reap the countless benefits of what the average college student would consider a plush life.
Theo Lawson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org