“There is no such thing as a free lunch.” A basic economic principle that states: everything has a cost. More often than not, college athletes are footing the bill. While athletic revenues generate enough money for a feast, “student” – athletes always seem to get the last plate. As a result, student-athletes do not have the opportunity to work for a wage.
Former Oklahoma center Vince Carter said the following before taking the field against LSU in the national championship game: “Sometimes it just doesn’t seem fair. I’m at the No. 1 (checked) football school in the country right now, and I’m struggling to get groceries every month.”
Is this the same education where only 23 of the 65 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament teams graduated 50% or more of their players in 2004?
Or in the words of Derek Bok, former president of Harvard: “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”
While most of us are wrapping up all-nighters, our athletic counterparts are preparing for early morning runs.
Let’s not forget the student-athletes supposed first priority, school. In between team meetings and workouts, college athletes must still attend class.
Some may argue that a student-athlete is not forced to balance school and sports, for they have a choice. For those from desolate backgrounds there is no such option. One must compete outside the classroom simply to have the opportunity to receive a college education.
Due to struggling schools and misplaced value systems, athletics are often viewed as the only viable alternative. This is a disheartening truth that appears to be stuck on eternal instant replay. Countless student-athletes enter institutions with a dual onus. Naturally, the collegians are expected to complete their degrees.
For many, they will be the first in their respective families to reach this level of scholastic achievement. At the same time, the collegians must also excel athletically. If they outperform roughly 90% of their competition, then the professional ranks may come calling.
A stipend system will not dissolve such a quandary in its entirety. Although, a stipend would likely reduce the frequency of such a predicament. Instead of being reimbursed for their efforts, student-athletes deposit even more sweat equity.
In no way am I advocating that college athletes be paid salary wages. But is a stipend too much to ask? Not in my humble opinion. Will athletic departments concede a slice, when they already own the bakery? Probably, not any-time soon. Yet this harsh reality does not justify the flawed system currently in place.
College programs often preach that athletics are about the name on the front of the jersey – the school – and not the back – the individual. But who’s really out for self in this situation? Who’s really out to lunch? Is it you, Morgan?