Essay on Whether College Athletes Should be Paid (with a Sample)

Every job should be paid. Can we assume that being a high school athlete is a profession? Is it just a hobby or a way to become famous and earn a scholarship? Receiving financial aid from an educational institution is a good perspective as the tuition fees increase each year. That’s why all the proposals to pay college athletes have drawn diverging responses. During the last decade, both learners and their parents have been discussing the question of whether college athletes should be paid.

Among all, LeBron James, a famous athlete, supports the movement along with Chris Murphy, a well-known politician.

In the US, youth needs to make money while studying (as jobs for college students are abundant), and for many, doing sports is the only trade they have mastered, and many people think it’s essential that they can start getting paid for their endeavors. They spend an equal amount of time training compared to professional athletes. What’s the difference then? Many people even view college athletes as a separate group of employees with fixed schedules and think that is why they should be paid.

According to a study conducted by the Ohio State University in 2020, only a slight majority of US citizens (51%) supported the idea of paying college athletes. CNBC has also published an article in which 53% of students were in favor of compensating college athletes.

NCAA average revenue sorted by sport with football being first

This topic is as relevant now as discussing role-modeling, school bullying, child obesity, gun control, and other issues regarding eating habits, drugs, racial minorities, and so on. That is why you, as a student, may eventually face a need to prepare an essay or a research paper covering the college athletes’ paying dilemma.

An essay is the most typical assignment in this case. First, decide on the type if it’s not given in the requirements.

  • Definition — pick some relevant terms and define them using dictionaries or their own words.
  • Descriptive — describe the process of becoming a successful high school or college football player.
  • Compare and contrast — compare how school athletes are treated in various areas or contrast them with pro players.
  • Cause and effect — discuss how organizations like The National Honor Society may reward or pay university athletes and why.
  • Argumentative — argue why the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) should pay school athletes. Do you accept this standpoint, and what’s the fair market value?
  • Persuasive — prove that college athletic teams will perform better if they are getting paid.

There are many types of essays you can write on college student-athletes. The topic is hot, so it is a perfect material to highlight in your papers if a teacher or professor does not assign a specific idea to report on or a research question to explore and answer.

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Facts, Statistics, and Essay Ideas to Use

Successful football or tennis players earn millions of dollars. But did you know that sports college athletes invest about 40 hours a week in their training sessions as well as games and performances? They also help to improve the image and reputation of their educational establishments. Apart from performing within the walls of schools, young athletes spend plenty of time doing their utmost at the national championships as well.

In your essay, to explain the whole idea behind paying student-athletes as an extra to scholarships, operate with facts and statistics. In any debate, including those linked to the college sports industry, the parties should at least present credible and up-to-date evidence to prove their points of view. That doesn’t include dedicated research conducted by the writer, which is also preferable. Before we provide a free essay sample, we’ll give you examples of such evidence.

Supporting Arguments

According to Marc Edelman’s article on Forbes, an average Division I player of a junior football team in college devotes 43.3 hours per week to their team. An interesting nuance is that it is 3 hours more than the usual US working week. Hence, one might even say that college athletes are among the hardest working people in the United States!

Besides paying students, another question is how this group of learners can maintain good grades while having so little time left for studies. Another case related to this discussion is from Florida State football players. They all are still students, and the team reported that their guys have to miss the first day of spring classes because of the upcoming games and intensive training sessions.

Make sure to retrieve data from relevant sites like NCAA. For instance, a forecast probability of competing in college athletics. Anonymous blog articles and fan pages are not the best sources of credible facts and stats. But if NBC News claims that 89% of all athletes who enrolled in college in 2012 earned degrees, it is more believable. That also breaks the myth that college athletes lack intelligence and literacy.

Tyson Harnett has written an article for HuffPost, where he says that student-athletes don’t get a cent for breaking records or winning important games, even though they work hard and meet everyone’s expectations. Coaches, though, do receive some monetary bonuses for the success of their teams. Yes, they also impact the teams’ performance, but is that entirely fair?

Confuting Arguments

In 2013, NCAA conducted a public survey on whether college football and basketball players should be paid. It revealed that 69% of the public and 61% of sports fans are against paying extra money to these student-athletes, apart from covering their college-related expenses. There were other findings linked to this question — read the full article to see further analysis.

Another opinion against paying more money to college athletes is that they’d have to pay taxes. So if you replaced scholarships the players get with a simple wage, that would be less affordable for the universities. John Thelin discusses this issue in more detail in his article. He provides all the figures and explains why paying student-athletes isn’t the best idea.

One more counterargument revolves around college ethics—paying student-athletes runs counter it. Just getting on the college team is already an accomplishment. And only 7% of school athletes get to play in college, and only 2% of them play in a Division I school. You can read more about it in Dave Anderson’s article about ten reasons against paying student-athletes.

Anderson also argues that any payment in any form besides scholarship can turn what used to be a privilege into a business. Players might change schools if they see a more lucrative opportunity. That would inevitably lead to less “attractive” college programs being cut. As a result, thousands of students will never get a chance to get an education in that institution.

Is it fair that sports team members get scholarships, unlike other learners? The US educational system offers many ways to apply for and receive financial aid in the form of a scholarship. However, that typically depends on the desire and efforts of the students. Many people believe it’s unfair to pay college athletes because they already get more rewards and recognition than other teens. That is another point to cover in your essay about this topic.

Which Essay Topic to Choose?

For and against claims within this student-athletes matter are plenty. Examine all the opinions and take the direction you feel like agreeing with. And remember that your essay must represent your thoughts as well. If you merely compile several views of other people, you won’t get an A.

You may be asked to compose this type of paper for classes like English composition, culture studies, sports, gender studies, and even business-related courses. But how do you choose a topic? Think about something you want to debate about and have enough knowledge of. Here are some issues students can discuss in their essays about whether college athletes should be paid:

  • A full-time job as a college sports team member.
  • The requirements of professional leagues.
  • Men’s basketball teams vs. women’s teams.
  • College athletic teams as a billion-dollar industry.
  • The role of the Collegiate Athletic Association.
  • The issues student-athletes are usually dealing with.
  • NCAA is a non-profit organization that can’t be involved in paying athletes.
  • Student-players can’t be compared to professionals.
  • California’s “Fair Pay to Play Act” and its effects.
  • Should college athletes be paid based on skill segregation?

You can get a paid essay sample by using our exclusive discount below or use our free paper sample to get a better idea. Before reading it, spend a couple of minutes studying the examples of possible thesis statements below.

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Examples of Thesis Statements

Another important thing to consider is the thesis statement. It’s a central argument of an essay that the author should support throughout the text to prove their point of view or offer an effective solution to the problem.

Start with the primary question: whether college athletes should be paid similarly to full- or part-time workers in the United States. Here’s how your thesis statement may look:

  • “Paying college athletes is a good idea because they invest the same time and effort as most American workers.”
  • “College universities generate plenty of money thanks to the performances of their sports teams and young athletes. That’s why these students should be paid like the players in professional sports.”
  • “Having sports as a job is not the same as playing sports for fun. In my essay, I will explain why young people involved in high school or college sports teams should get fair financial compensation.”
  • “College football is hard work that requires plenty of time and training. Therefore, high-school and college athletes have to sacrifice their study hours, and that’s why they should be treated differently.”

Now, view our free essay sample to find out more about college students involved in the sports industry and how to write about it.

College Athletes Should be Paid Essay Example

College sports programs have become multimillion-dollar entertainment businesses that make a lot of money for college institutions. The revenues generated from the programs continue to increase every year to the extent where colleges can fund every other sports program. Part of the reason colleges earn handsome profits from the programs is the participation of student-athletes. Most college sports programs derive their revenues from endorsement deals, ticket sales, jersey sales, and broadcasting deals. Paying college athletes for participating in sports programs is an issue that has been subject debates over the years.

College athletes often struggle to make ends meet despite being given full scholarships that cover accommodation, tuition, meals, and fees for the four years in college. However, additional costs associated with being a college athlete are not covered by the scholarships. As such, athletes have to foot those extra costs out of their own pockets, such as buying or renting suits for fundraisers or mandatory banquets (Sanderson & Siegfried, 2015). Many people would argue that it is a small price to pay compared to the full scholarship awarded to them. However, they should acknowledge that scholarships are the only means for most athletes to attend college because they come from underprivileged backgrounds. Therefore, their performance in sports and athletics becomes their only chance to attend college.

Paying college athletes will increase the competitiveness of various sports programs. Tiered payments given to professional players in sports like basketball motivate them to perform better. The hard work from professional athletes boosts their total wages from sponsorship deals and media events (Steckler, 2015). As such, paying college athletes will help them focus on their education and their game without worrying about where to get money to cater for their daily needs. It also helps to prevent athletes from underperforming on the field.

Vast revenues earned from college sports programs are not reinvested in the teams, especially assisting them in pursuing their professional and educational goals. Instead, the profits generated are shared between coaches, administrators, and athletic directors (Tucker et al., 2016). As such, the athletes should be paid because proceeds are allocated to misplaced programs that do not address their welfare or improve their schools.

Coaches, their assistants, and administrators of college sports programs get paid handsomely for their roles. Most NCAA coaches are paid more than $100,000 annually alongside their assistants and advisors who help them with the training workload. The earnings of coaches almost triple what professors and teachers get paid despite being expected to facilitate the academic success of the athletes. Colleges with massive sports programs pay their head coaches millions of dollars because the institutions expect to derive even more profits (Steckler, 2015). If colleges can spend millions of dollars on a coach, then they should compensate their athletes because money is available.

Paying college athletes will help them gain money management skills. If the students end up becoming professional athletes, the skills will help them manage the money they will earn. Also, small stipends to the athletes will teach them how to save, considering that it is an essential skill most young people lack.

Paying college athletes will increase competitiveness in athletics at the school level and help them gain essential money management skills. Colleges derive astronomical profits from sports programs, and it is only fair that they compensate the athletes because they are the most important stakeholders. Besides, coaches and administrators earn huge salaries and performance bonuses despite the small role they play in the success of college athletic programs, which is also unjust.


  • Sanderson, A. R., & Siegfried, J. J. (2015). The case for paying college athletes. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 29(1), 115-38.
  • Steckler, A. (2015). Time to Pay College Athletes: Why the O’Bannon Decision Makes Pay-for-Play Ripe for Mediation. Cardozo J. Conflict Resol., 17, 1071.
  • Tucker, K., Morgan, B. J., Kirk, O., Moore, K., Irving, D., Sizemore, D., & Emanuel, R. (2016). Perceptions of college student-athletes. Journal of Undergraduate Ethnic Minority Psychology, 2, 27-33.

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