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Should College Athletes Be Paid?

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The article, titled “Should college athletes be paid?” was written by Allen Sack and published on March 7, 2008 in the Christian Science Monitor. Allen Sack is a professor at University of New Haven. He attended college at University of Notre Dame, where he was on the 1966 National Championship football team. He has a published book, many journal articles and has given multiple presentations on the management of sport industries. Allen Sack’s main points when he wrote this article was either give college athletes all the benefits of pro athletes, or place them on an amateur status.

His article focuses on how the organization, NCAA, has changed throughout the years as a whole, and at first his opinion tends to support not giving college athletes any pro benefits. In reviewing the article, Allen Sack makes a strong argument for college athletes to be not on a professional level, but to give them an education if committed to playing. He does this by being able to reflect on his personal experience as a college athlete who was rewarded a scholarship and by giving historical events that related to his opinion. However, while many issues were presented in the article, Allen Sack’s conclusion tends to stray away from his original opinion that college athletes should not be paid.

Throughout the article, Sack stresses that he’s a major supporter of athletes continuing to be amateurs. He also believes the current system of renewable one-year scholarships has strayed far away from the NCAA’s original mission. Sack uses his personal experience as a football player at University of Notre Dame to show how the structural history of the NCAA has changed. Sack states that in 1957, the NCAA adjusted its’ mission to allow athletic scholarships, and he believes that this was the turning point for college’s to start treating their athletes as professionals. “At first, NCAA rules allowed these scholarships to be awarded for four years…… Unfortunately, since I graduated, scholarships have taken on the trappings of an employment contract.” (Sack, 1) Sack writes.

He swayed from his original opinion by explaining that currently only a very small number of athletes are the main cause of colleges’ athletic programs to be able to continue to create revenue, which is why athletes aren’t paid. At the end of the article, Sack writes, “At the very least, however, the athletes who put fans in the seats and in front of TV sets deserve a genuine opportunity to receive the education they were promised and a stipend to cover the full cost of their education.” (Sack, 2)

Allen Sack’s quality of evidence started strong, presenting chronological events that supported his opinions. However, his specific support ended in the early 1970’s, over 30 years ago. Therefore he does not give up to date incidents that support his opinions. The quality of his writing was strong, giving his argument a good foundation because he presented several different issues with the current system and gave supporting examples. One issue he presented was scholarships. When he attended college, he was awarded a no strings attached four-year scholarship, and “was assured when I was recruited – regardless of my performance on the athletic field.” (Sack, 3) Unfortunately, since then things have changed. Scholarships for college athletes are no longer offered for the full four-years. “Today, scholarships are awarded on a year-to-year basis. Athletes who have been injured or who turn out to be recruiting mistakes can be fired.” (Sack, 4)

Allen Sack then switches gears and focuses on what college athletes deserve if they aren’t given pro benefits. “They deserve the same rights and benefits as other employees, including medical benefits, workers’ compensation when injured, and the right to use their God-given talents to build some financial security for their families while still in college.” (Sack, 5) By stating this fact, Allen Sack loses focus on his no-benefit to college athletes’ stance. His argument becomes weaker by drawing attention to what benefits athletes should be entitled to, instead of continuing his position on keeping the NCAA at an amateur level. Allen further separates from his original opposition by talking about Ivy League Schools and how they treat their college athletes. Sack tells us that the college athletes are “students first” (Sack, 6) but yet they give athletes “a break in admissions”(Sack, 7), alluding to the fact that even Ivy League college athletes do get some sort of benefit for playing for their school.

In conclusion, although this article had strong quality and was technically well-executed, Allen Sack’s opinion and evidence became weak towards the end. He provided good background information on how the current scholarship environment came to be, but his evidence became much sparser causing even Allen Sack himself to have a slightly different opinion. His attitude towards college athletes having professional athlete benefits crumbled, and what started as a no changed to a possibility if given a stipend towards their education.

Works Cited

Sack, Allen. “Should college athletes be paid?.” Christian Science Monitor 07 Mar. 2008: 9. Regional Business News. Web. 18 Mar. 2015.

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