The rising debate on payment of college athletes


photo via HuffPost

A historic day in the sports world has dawned.

On Sept. 30, Californian senators signed the long awaited “Fair Pay to Play” act into law, which will allow American college athletes to make money off of promotional sales using their names and images. California set the precedent for a myriad of other states, as nine others have already proposed similar bills.

It doesn’t enable universities to directly pay their athletes; rather, it allows these athletes to sign agents to represent them.

Whether college athletes deserve pay or not has long been a debate. While a large portion of the sports world supports the “Fair Pay to Play” act, many still oppose the concept. 

LeBron James took the issue to “The Shop,” his sports debate series. The bill was signed by California Governor, Gavin Newsom on the show. Coming from an impoverished area, James would have benefitted from college if this bill were in place when he graduated high school. He showed his support for the bill by sharing his personal story: 

 “We wouldn’t have been able to benefit at all from [our college profiting off our image],” James said to reporters after a practice. “And the university would have been able to capitalize on everything that I would’ve been there for that year or two.” 

Many other iconic names in the sports arena have backed the bill, including Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski.

“We need to stay current with what’s happening,” Krzyzewski said. “I’m glad it was passed because it pushes the envelope, it pushes the issue.”

While many voices like James and Krzyzewksi are in favor of college athletes being paid, many others speak against it. The leading name in opposition is former Heisman-winning quarterback, Tim Tebow. He firmly believes that individualizing athletes will ruin the atmosphere of college sports. The team aspect is something Tebow praises from his days at The University of Florida.

“I could support my team, support my college, support my university, [and] that’s what it was all about,” Tebow said. “But now, we’re changing [the environment]…It’s not about we, it’s just about me.’’

Tebow continued on this rant, arguing that not only will this bill destroy everything beloved about college sports, but it will make the atmosphere similar to the NFL.

“And, yes, I know we live in a selfish culture where it’s not all about [community], but we’re just adding and piling it onto that,” Tebow said. “[We’re taking college athletics and] turning it into the NFL, where whoever has the most money, that’s where you go…Stadiums are bigger in college than they are in the NFL, because it’s about your team, it’s about your university. And you’re taking that away so that young kids can earn a dollar, and that’s just not where I feel college football needs to go.”

The bill that shook the sports world was just passed, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out. Will paying college athletes truly make a positive impact? Or should we heed the words of Tim Tebow and fear for the college sports we love and adore? 

Only time will tell.