Recently, I bought a subscription to DK Pittsburgh Sports. It’s a small staffed (seven staffers) online website, and app, that covers everything Pittsburgh sports, if the name didn’t make that obvious.
The creator, Dejan Kovacevic, writes excellent columns, along with covering an array of sports.
Most recently, Kovacevic released a column, titled “Pay these kids already!” The column focuses on college athletes, and came about after Kovacevic spent time in Chapel Hill, N.C., covering the Pitt Panthers basketball and wrestling teams.
An interesting aspect mentioned is the 21,750 spectators, who obviously paid to watch the competition, during the Panthers versus Tar Heels basketball game.
It goes on to say, “the players themselves make less than the students selling smoothies out on the concourses,” bringing to life his opinion that college athletes, at least at the Division 1 level, should be compensated with currency for their performances.
Kovacevic’s perspective on the matter came after he covered both sports, and watched the Panthers board a plane to go back to Pittsburgh, where, inevitably, they would need to turn their thoughts from the mat and the court to the books.
It should be noted that these athletes do give all they have to the school, or, if you will, hail to Pitt.
But, should their talents be rewarded with a paycheck?
My opinion on the matter is no.
In 2015, I wrote a column about the outrageous amount of money professional athletes receive. With that in mind, I respectfully disagree with Kovacevic on this matter.
Professional sports, in the minds of some, have been watered down with all the talk of money and contracts.
When it comes to paying student athletes, and I’m staying within D1 schools, I think it would hurt the programs.
Sure, the programs themselves reel in cash left and right, but, most of the money made from spectators in the bigger sports, such as football and basketball, roll into the funds of the smaller sports programs, like rugby, lacrosse and swimming, which don’t garner as much attention from the public.
Imagine a world where college athletes make high-profits. Try to keep in mind that money is the root of all evil.
Take Johnny “Football” Manziel for example. Remember the all-star quarterback for Texas A&M? And how fast his life, and career for that matter, have spiraled (pun intended) out of control after he was picked up in the 2014 draft.
Manziel might be a party boy at heart, but you can’t party when your bank account is hanging on by a thread.
Once in the NFL, Manziel’s pockets became fat with cash, and so did YouTube, filling up with videos of the 23 year old quarterback partying when he was supposed to be studying his playbook.
In my opinion, if college athletes raked in as much as the pros do, the integrity of the sport would find itself lost in the numerous conversations about salary.
I’m not saying Kovacevic doesn’t make good points — he does — I just think there are other ways to go about rewarding these collegiate kids.
In sports such as wrestling, I get it. I really do. The college level is usually the plateau of their careers, but, in sports such as football and basketball, the athletes have another level most are looking to achieve.
Perhaps a small stipend, only to be used towards their respective schools, could be a route to look at.
Yes, these athletes do work hard. But, some of them aren’t their for education. Big spoiler, huh?
Some collegiate stars are on scholarships. Isn’t that good enough to participate on a D1 team?
If they don’t think so now, wait until six months after graduation, when their peers’ loan companies are squeezing every cent out of their pocket to pay off their schooling.
Kovacevic follows these athletes and knows the behind-the-scenes of their hard work, but, isn’t playing in front of 21,000 people good enough?
The thing I like personally about college sports is that the athletes do it because they love it, money aside.
I think a paycheck their way would water-down the esthetic of the game.
But, then again, I never played on a D1 team, and I’m comfortable saying there’s no chance I ever will, so I guess I’m biased on the situation.
Just some food for thought.
Lohr is the sports editor of The Titusville Herald.