Isn’t an Education Compensation Enough?

The first college football playoff is in the history books. The playoff system resulted in a number two and a number four team playing each other for the championship, and it was a great game, the battle of the “O’s”! It was also, for me, a thought roller coaster.

Not being linked to or particularly enamored of either team, I was ready simply to enjoy my viewing experience. I didn’t have a dog in this fight, so I was free to enjoy other people’s, well okay they weren’t dogs. They were young men, but it doesn’t seem quite right to say I was enjoying other people’s young men. Hmm.

Okay, that was certainly a can of worms that I shouldn’t have opened.

I love watching well-played sports. How about that?

Before the game, I read a few articles by some sports writers here and there. Sports writers are some of the best writers ever, in case you didn’t know. But that’s another digression. At any rate, based on these articles, I started to form an attachment to the Oregon Ducks. I liked the character of the quarterback. I learned that he was trying to decide if he should stay in school for his “football senior” year or if he should make himself eligible for the draft. I learned that he had already completed his degree. Well, that was something to me — an athlete who finished a degree in four years? Pretty awesome.

Then I read a quote from that other quarterback’s Twitter feed. I could quote it, but to paraphrase, he said he was only at Ohio State to play football — “ain’t” there to play school. My immediate judgment was a negative one. Then I saw him play. How does a third-string quarterback play football with such strength, poise, and confidence? He truly was amazing and deserved the victory. It also seems as though he has matured greatly since sending out that ill-advised tweet. I would guess that he truly does desire an education as well a football career.

Which brings me to the real point. Over and over, on the radio, on the internet, and in the newspaper, I read and hear sports types talk about how everyone involved in this national championship game was making money except the players. They did say the amount the players’ families received as a stipend to attend the game had been raised. Yay families! I have yet to have anyone give me a stipend to attend one of my college music major’s concerts, and I can’t watch it on television either!

All these people keep calling for college football players to be compensated for their play. I say the players and their families are being compensated. I suppose we can discuss whether or not these guys deserve “more” money, but it is ridiculous to suggest that they receive no reward. They are blessed with compensation in three areas.

First, they receive a free education — FREE — while their peers, the thousands of college students, many of whom worked just as hard at academics as these guys did at football in order to make it into college, struggle with the thought of paying back massive student loans when they graduate. If it were not for football, many of these men would not have been admitted to college at all. An education, a degree if they choose to actually pursue one, is their payment. I would be willing to bet that The Ohio State marching band works just as hard at their craft as the football players do. I wonder how many of them are at school on a free ride.

Secondly, these men are extended an opportunity to showcase their talents on national television so that future employers can see their abilities up close. No internships, no residencies, no worries about the perfect resume. This is a job interview of huge proportions, where NFL teams are looking for their next players and corporations are looking for their next spokesmen! Are these athletes more important to society than other graduates will be? Should there be a bowl game for Biology majors?

Finally, there is fame. Cardale Jones is now, deservedly, a household name. He, along with his peers, is revered, respected, lauded, and loved. What would a theater major give for the same kind of attention? Jones would not enjoy this fame if money were not made from his activity, and fame is a pretty great reward!

Yes, these young men are amazing football players, and people are making money off of their talents. Maybe they deserve more than what they are now receiving, but let’s not pretend they are not compensated for all their hard work.

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