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Stop stealing from student-athletes
Steve Siebold
Steve Siebold is a former professional and a psychological performance coach. - photo by Photo provided.

Imagine you start a new company and hire employees. Would you expect them to work for free? Of course, not! So why does the NCAA feel that it’s fair for its players to work for no financial compensation?

It’s a debate that’s been ongoing for years with no resolution, but continues to get attention going into the Final Four this weekend. Also, pushing the issue back into the national spotlight is a segment that aired Friday night on VICE on HBO. Correspondent Gianna Toboni spent a year meeting with athletic directors, coaches, sports marketing minds and the players, to see the role money plays in college sports.

At the end of the day, though, there’s an overwhelming amount of reasons why college athletes should be paid.

1. Remove the players and you remove the profit.

Without the players, there is no revenue coming in. It’s as simple as that. This isn’t a child’s lemonade stand. We’re talking about an industry that generates billions of dollars in revenues, yet the very people responsible for it all are completely eliminated from the reward. How in the world is that fair? The schools make millions. Many coaches have seven-figure contracts. TV networks are making millions on advertising. Stadium vendors are bringing in the dough. Municipalities and local businesses profit. Everyone wins but the players.

2. A college degree is not fair compensation.

Many people like to make the free education argument. While higher education is indeed commendable, a college degree isn’t going to make anyone successful on its own. Instead, better compensation for collegiate athletes would be the financial equivalent of attending school deposited into their bank accounts. This way, for the players that don’t make it to the pros, they have a small cushion to fall back on and pay their bills with for all their years of hard work, training and in many cases, repeated injuries.

3. They’re risking their lives.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (C.T.E.), a degenerative brain disease, has been found in many former football players. In fact, the same neuropathologist who first discovered CTE in the brain of Mike Webster, the Hall of Fame center for the Pittsburgh Steelers who died in 2002, believes that more than 90 percent of NFL players have brain disease. How are college football players who develop CTE supposed to pay their medical bills? How are they supposed to hold down a job and make a living with a severe neurologic disease? They can’t. They deserve financial compensation when they start playing in college.

4. It’s capitalism.

Some people will argue there is no fair way to pay college athletes. That’s ridiculous and an excuse to detract from the issue at hand. If every system had to either be perfect or not exist at all, we wouldn’t have many systems. Players should be paid based on productivity. The more value the athlete brings, the bigger piece of the pie he gets. It’s the basic premise of a free market economy.

5. The players need the money more than anyone else.

As the HBO segment reveals, many college football and basketball player don’t come from wealthy backgrounds. Many of them are all too familiar with poverty, homelessness and bill collectors. That’s just the reality of life for many of these kids. As someone who played Division 1 college sports, I’ve witnessed firsthand the hours these guys, especially football and basketball players, put in to training and preparation. Not only do they deserve it, they desperately need the money. Since the majority don’t go to the pros, at least give them some financial compensation for the time they put in during college.

The bottom line is it’s time to pay college athletes. The NCAA is a big business, and like any other big business, it must take care of its greatest assets - its athletes.

Siebold is a former professional and a psychological performance coach. He is author of 177 Mental Toughness Secrets of The World Class.

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