The recent rash of NCAA violations and alleged violations at major schools like USC, Ohio St., Auburn, LSU, Oregon, etc have ramped up the talk of the need to pay college football players. I am going to take an unpopular position on this topic and say don’t give them a dime.
It is no secret that I played major college football. It is a lesser known fact that I also played major college football for a not so major team. Before I played for the Miami Hurricanes, I played for the now defunct Long Beach St. 49ers football program. Playing for two college football programs will give anyone in that position perspective. When you play for two programs on the opposite ends of the spectrum, your perspective gets even greater.
One would be surprised to know that there were violations at Long Beach St. like there were violations at Miami. There are violations on every college football campus by players on the team. You are sitting there now thinking that it was all about survival with regards to these violations and I am here to tell you that it wasn’t. 95% of the violations were about the character and choices of the young men that made them. Were there times on both campuses when we as players were hungry? Of course! Guess what? There were times before myself and the other players arrived on campus that we were hungry too. It never led to me starving to death. Did I want a pair of shoes I saw someone else wearing, a pair of jeans that all the “cool” people seem to be sporting? Was there that girl I wanted to take to the movies or the car I wanted to drive? You bet.
You know what each and everyone of those situations did for me? Made me want to ‘make’ some money one day. How was I going to do that? I was going to get my education, meet the right people and train hard to take advantage of the football opportunity in front of me. Now, had I reached out and taken the regular stream of payments from the “friend of the program” or even picked up a paycheck from the university, my motivation to achieve those goals would have been diminished to some degree. The fact that as an athlete, you are being afforded an opportunity to get an education that costs 100’s of 1,000’s of dollars should be enough. Often times, the athletes are being admitted into the school when they would not otherwise be allowed because of their athletic prowess. Along with the costs that you are being relieved of to get that education, the value of it also exceeds several 10’s to 100’s of thousands. It gives you earning power. What else could you want?
How much should we pay theses athletes that are already getting so much? $100 per week? $500 per week? $1,000 per week? What’s a good figure? Can Miami pay more to their athletes than the Long Beach St.’s of the World? Will $200 per week paid to an athlete make them tell the local dealer no when he offers them a car worth $1,000’s for nothing? You really need your head examined if you think the answer to that is yes. Offering the athletes ‘pay checks’ will only make them more money thirsty. How many violations have you ever heard of where a guy was popped for getting a bunch of free meals at a restaurant or free food from the grocery store? Think about that. It’s always free cars, jewelry, expensive clothes, luxury items. Never deodorant, underwear, shaving gel. It’s not about needs it’s about wants. These players want to be ‘ballers’ like they see on TV before they have done a damned thing to be one. They want to look like the entertainment idols they see in the media. It’s the trap of the adolescent mind and there is always the misguided adult around the program ready to feed into that beast for their own selfish purposes.
The universities are providing the athletes with a fishing rod so that they can learn how to fish and feed themselves for the rest of their lives. Do the programs take a lot of their time trying to make them great athletes and produce a great product on the field? Yes but it only helps the student athlete to learn how manage their time and become a success. One day when they make it, they will already have the tools to manage the time it takes to continue to be a success. That is what college is teaching them. These athletes that are hungry in their college dorm have been hungry all their life. They should be motivated to learn what it takes to change that situation for not only themselves but for their families born and unborn. Collecting a check from the university or NCAA will not help. It will more than likely hurt that.
I want someone to get out there and preach to the young student athletes that taking a hand out does not set you up for life, it makes you dependent for the rest of your life. It puts you right back into the situation that you have been in before you got on campus. Accept the scholarship, accept the educational Pell Grant from the government, manage your money, manage your time and the rewards four or five years later will far exceed the pair of jeans, the diamond earrings, the Nike kicks or even the check the university could give you for being a guy who can run fast or jump high.