It’s time for colleges to start paying their ‘student athletes’

Fresno State quarterback Brian Burrell scrambles past Nevada defenders in the Bulldogs’ 40-20 win over the Wolf Pack on Nov. 22, 2014 in Reno, California. (Darlene Wendels/The Collegian)

It’s funny that it’s a sin to pay a college athlete any money – whether it’s $1 or $1,000 – but coaches can make millions and millions of dollars.

And the justification for having students put their bodies on the line: scholarships. Students are able to sit in class for free while playing the sport they love.

And hope that there is no gruesome injury that can halt the scholarship money in an instant.

The thing is, aside from scholarships, there are more costs associated with going to school.

Any students on campus can get scholarships (they just need to apply), but part-time jobs usually help in paying expenses like food or bills.

Sure, a student-athlete can get a job at Starbucks just like any other student, but the tough practice schedule and the travel to various sites (some on the East Coast) can take that time up.

You know who also practices hard each week and travels all over the country to face other sports teams? Professionally paid athletes.

You know who also risks their bodies for the sake of entertainment (and ultimately money in the pockets of their coaches)? Professionally paid athletes.

You know how much these professionally paid athletes make? Look it up, I’m sure it’s not minimum wage.

So how much do these student-athletes make? Zero.

If Fresno State can give out thousands of dollars (whether in merchandise or literally) during games featuring athletes who are not getting paid two cents, it sounds like the students sitting in the stands are getting more of a kickback from attending games.

Sure, college is expensive, and some people do not have the luxury of getting a scholarship. That’s fine, but keep in mind, participating in college athletics comes at a bigger cost than $7,000 a year.

There in lies the debate as to whether or not sports are important in academics. Some would believe that colleges are there for the sole purpose of training young men and women for careers. Having athletics there sucks away the educational purpose of college.

For example, I am a full-time student who has been blessed with having educational expenses taken care of. And at the same time, I get paid for writing this opinion column for you to read. It’s not a lot of money, but it does help in paying bills and food.

Meanwhile, a student-athlete has Top Ramen or tainted Kraft macaroni and cheese in his or her cupboard.

Not the ideal situation for a student who is participating in a lucrative on-campus sport.

But God bless that student if he or she takes a ham sandwich from a supporter. Bye-bye 111 wins.

In order to remedy the situation, at least give a student-athlete some money for hours worked.

The school mandates that no student should be paid more than 20 hours per week while school is in session. That sounds like a fair deal.

If Fresno State Athletics has enough money to pay for a billion iPads to give away to students, then clearly it can help a student afford things outside of college.

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