460,000. That’s the number of student-athletes under NCAA jurisdiction. All under the same blanket of ruling that states they cannot profit as college athletes or be paid for their work.
Nonetheless, there has been a significant push to allow these athletes to receive some greater form of compensation for their time and benefits provided to the school. In California, the Fair Pay to Play Act was just passed, allowing student-athletes to sign endorsement deals and be compensated for the use of their name, image, and likeness by 2023.
Unfortunately, this act has been met with significant backlash from the NCAA and sports figures such as Tim Tebow. This crowd has voiced nothing but baseless claims, stating that paying student-athletes would prove detrimental to the traditional culture and atmosphere of college athletics.
“Now we’re changing it from ‘us’, from ‘we’, from ‘my university’, from being an alumni where I care which makes college football and college sports special, to then, ‘OK, it’s not about us. It’s not about we. It’s just about me.’ And yes I know we live in a selfish culture where it’s all about us but we’re just adding and piling on to that where it changes what’s special about college football. We’ve turned it to the NFL, where who has the most money, that’s where you go. That’s why people are more passionate about college sports than they are NFL. That’s why the stadiums are bigger in college than they are in the NFL. Because it’s about your team. It’s about your university. It’s about where my family wanted to go. It’s about where my grandfather had a dream of seeing Florida win an SEC Championship. And you’re taking that away so that young kids can earn a dollar. And that’s just not where I feel like college football needs to go. There’s that opportunity in the NFL, but not in college football.” – Tim Tebow
Overall, poor take by Tim. A 5-star recruit out of high school, Heisman winner, and two-time national champion, Tebow was always a shoo-in for the NFL where he could count on a million-dollar paycheck soon after graduating. I doubt that luxury is shared by a majority of the other 459,999 NCAA student-athletes. Tebow was even home-schooled for much of his whole life and essentially owned the town of Gainesville while he played at University of Florida; privilege and ignorance have been key components to his perspective.
College football has a great sense of history and tradition, cementing itself as a cultural centerpiece of American entertainment. Allow Giving these students the means to profit and benefit from their own successes and platforms is a basic right that nor Tim Tebow or the NCAA should interfere with. However, far too long has both the fans and NCAA alike disregarded the well-being of student-athletes. The term “student-athlete” was even coined to suppress college athletes’ rights.
85% of athletes on “full” athletic scholarships at FBS schools live bellow the poverty line. So while Tebow may have had the privilege to strictly focus on the tradition of Florida football and chasing his NFL dreams, a majority of his peers did not have that luxury. Students struggling to live and eat likely lack such empathy for their schools as their primary focus is their family’s well-being.
Trying to live about the poverty line while playing college sports and supporting your family? Seems like Tebow has a strange understanding of “selfish culture.”