Why Student-Athletes should Profit from their Image

Manuel Sarmiento

Blog Post #4

One of the main questions around the commercialization of college athletics is that it attracts many questions about those who play the game. Should certain key players of a school’s team be compensated for the added revenue the university is receiving? March Madness alone generates one billion dollars in revenue and also from using the names and likenesses on merchandise. So one could argue that players should receive some sort of payment for the use of their public image. But the case can be made that the possibility to receive advanced education and the possibility of signing a major professional contract is enough reward for dedicating so much to the school’s team. I believe that the NCAA should adopt a more Burke-influenced ideology to solve the issue of player compensation.

Burke was one of the first proponents of what we call today conservatism. He argued that things should not change and extreme reaction could threaten the foundation it is trying to reform. He promoted conserving the social institutions in order to achieve stability and continuity. Paying athletes would be considered extreme because they will no longer be amateurs. Receiving compensation for their efforts would qualify a student-athlete a professional. However, this idea needs to be true for every student-athlete since discriminating by sport they play would lead to the demise of smaller sports.

Burke stated that tradition is the most reliable source of [political] knowledge. The NCAA started out as an organization that promoted amateur sports. During its humble beginnings, the NCAA did not seek to profit from the popularity but rather to establish a system for which people can play collegiate sports. For the past one hundred years the NCAA has seen a remarkable growth from what was just a tool for which students can play organized sports with other teams has evolved into a more serious, competitive league. And while the NCAA has experienced these major changes, it has continued to grow each year. So if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. Altering the NCAA to allow students to get paid could alter the formula that has brought them success before. So why harm what is already considered an established tradition that bears many other great things? Well what if we added a feature that did not interfere with the long-cemented system.

Photo of Burke playing basketball

A response that Burke would consider suitable for this situation is that the students be permitted to sell their public image via personal merchandise. Then, the student-athlete can get some money from the side personally while balancing his academic and athletic responsibilities. This does not threaten the money that the schools generate since it does not rather change but rather introduces a new concept that does not interfere with the university’s and the NCAA’s profits.

Burke’s opinion of whether student-athletes should be compensated is that compensation needs to occur in a way that does not impede the success of the NCAA and the universities. By allowing these players to sell personal merchandise such as pictures and autographs for personal financial gain, the system remains stable while meeting the player’s demands. Burke’s reply was not extreme enough to potentially cause the downfall of the NCAA but at the same time meeting the demands of the most important members of the NCAA, it’s players.

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One thought on “Why Student-Athletes should Profit from their Image

  1. I think this is a very well written post. You took an interesting side to case of paying athletes. I agree with you 100%, I believe that if you let athletes market themselves and sell pictures and autographs, that you would also be allowing them to learn how to sell themselves to get the most “bang for their buck”. However, I also believe that it will corrupt the NCAA and the Universities. Players would get out of hand with selling autographs and maybe memorabilia and they would get away from why they came to college, to play his/her sport. I do not believe that there are enough people to monitor everything that happens with athletes, if there was we wouldn’t see collegiate athletes in the news for standing on a table and yelling vulgar sayings.

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