On the surface, this is simply a football player celebrating a touchdown. He looks out at the massive stadium as his outstretched arms embrace the roaring fans. Without any background information, one may look at this and immediately assume it is professional football. After all, the game is at a huge venue and a Nike logo is stitched in the jersey’s upper right hand corner. In reality, the sport in the photo is college football, but it is evident that the gap between professional and collegiate athletics is diminishing. The stadiums are often identical in size, and the crowds are equally large. The same companies sponsor the uniforms, and the total amount of money in the businesses is comparable.
However, many people are steadfast in their belief that NCAA sports should not pay their players because they are “student-athletes.” These people argue that the primary goal of college football programs is to educate their students. They say that football comes second; hence the title “student-athletes.” Over the years, however, it has become painfully obvious that education is extremely far down on the Division I college football priority list – which brings me to the image above.
In the picture is a University of North Carolina wide receiver named Erik Highsmith. He was recently caught plagiarizing writing in order to fulfill a course requirement. The passage in question was originally written by an 11-year-old child, and Highsmith used it to pass a course at a respected university such as UNC – Chapel Hill. It’s embarrassing. Furthermore, UNC is already on probation for enrolling football players in erroneous classes; ones that never even met. Not only are these students forced to prioritize their sports over schoolwork, they are often exempt from being students at all!
The term “student-athletes” is just as fictional as the courses UNC enrolled their football players in. College sports have turned professional, and the athletes involved should be paid for their uncompromising efforts.