UNITED STATES—I have been a major advocate for this for years. The fact that Gavin Newsom, the Governor of California has passed legislation that will allow student athletes at community colleges and universities to be compensated while they are in school is amazing. Look, I had the same thought many Americans had before really getting to know student athletes and some of the plight they endure. They are getting the opportunity to go to school without paying for their education. That is quite great for most Americans to gain knowledge and not be forced to pay for it.
However, so many people have NO IDEA of the hectic life and the challenges that student athletes endure. This is not meant to be a column to make you feel sad for student athletes, but to understand they deal with a lot more than you know. I’m speaking from personal experience as a tutor during my undergraduate years at a major university, where I worked closely with student athletes. I worked with football players, basketball players, wrestlers, swimmers, and tennis players, you name the sport; I can tell you someone I tutored in that sport.
What did I learn? Some athletes have it a bit easier than others, but they all have busy schedules. I would argue that football players have it the toughest, and this is especially if you’re attending a school where the football team is known for its prowess. I mean I learned the day started at 4 or 5 in the morning, and didn’t end in some cases until 9 or 10 at night. America that is a long day, they have weight training in the morning, then tutorials, then class, then lunch, then class, then practice, more tutorials and then the day finally ends.
Student athletes in most cases have no lives, I think most players told me Sunday was the one day they really didn’t have to do anything, but watch film, and this was for football players in most situations. However, the university that I attended made it clear for all student athletes that didn’t have a specific GPA they were forced to have tutorial sessions for their courses. That is indeed a tough pill to swallow, and at times I would get frustrated with some of the athletes I tutored because they would come into the session with lackluster energy and not a care in the world. I now understand why.
Some athletes have no source of income while in school. Yes, their education is paid, they get to eat, they have housing and their books are paid for, but they have no free money beyond that. They don’t have a car so transportation is an issue. Let’s say they need some clothing, shoes or items they just don’t have, where are they supposed to get that income from? The NCAA has rules that will blow your mind; there are things that the athletes absolutely CANNOT do, and those who tutor them cannot indulge in as well.
I have felt for quite some time that student athletes should be compensated for playing sports at top-notch schools. Why? The university makes millions if not billions of dollars off of these athletes year after year. The least they can do is allow them to have endorsements or receive some sort of stipend that gives them some sort of funding beyond their education, food and housing being paid for each semester. Let them be able to enjoy the college experience beyond playing sports. Sports are great and all, but we know a vast majority of athletes never make it to the pros, so what are they do to after school ends.
Of course the NCAA is fighting Governor Newsom’s legislation, because it’s a game of money people. Sports are supposed to be entertaining, but people have no clue of the financial prowess that money plays when it comes to collegiate sports. Paying athletes will become an argument that some will be in favor for and others will be against, and I don’t expect this fight to end anytime soon.
However, I’ve come to realize until you place yourself literally in the shoes of someone else, you have no idea of the plight and struggles that some endure, especially student athletes who we all assume are on the top of the world, but are struggling behind closed doors.