Do Pac-12 football players really get it? While that may seem to be insulting to them, it is a question that many of us who do the donating and buying of tickets (i.e. funding the athletic budgets) are thinking, but are reluctant to articulate aloud in today’s “cancel culture.” Do the athletes understand and appreciate what they have, or are they feeling an early onset of professional entitlement?
Athletes have come together to develop a list of demands and threaten to boycott their sports if their demands are not met. On the table is everything from anti-discrimination and player safety, to intellectual property rights, revenue sharing and other forms of compensation.
In the Pac-12, the group is #WeAreUnited, and their mission is to ensure that future generations of college athletes will be treated fairly. They have a website displaying their list of demands, and you can find it here (the list is extensive). The “Fair Market Pay, Rights and Freedoms” section will generate a variety of reactions from the very first line. They want an even distribution of 50% of each sport’s total conference revenue among players in their respective sports. Let that sink in, and then have a look at the rest of the list.
The Perks of Being a Football Player
We all agree that student-athletes are deserving of fair treatment and conditions. However, let us take a serious look at what they seem to be conveniently failing to acknowledge. These young people get their education paid for. That is important because greater than 95% of them never play professionally.
What is the value of a college football scholarship?
Obviously, there are variables such as the quality of the degree attained and whether the player retires from the NFL, but the value of a full scholarship (the cost of the education), is valued between $250,000 and $350,000, depending upon additional years for a graduate degree if eligibility is left.
Value of the education at $250,000 for four years.
Value of room and board at $25,000 a year = $100,000.
Additional earnings over 40 years working with a college degree: $900,000 (Census Bureau).
We are at a $1.2 million value already for four years of school and that is before the value of all the professional services given to the athletes. Consider the cost of having access to meals and advanced nutrition support and supplements, along with academic tutors, psychological services and psychiatric care, and medical and dental care. For injuries, they have free physical therapy and advanced workout and recovery technology.
Trainers normally charge $100 per hour, yet these athletes benefit from a world-class professional strength, conditioning and training team that spends countless hours with them every day. What would that gym membership cost? We must also be mindful of the $37,000 (California average) in student loans the players will not have to pay back when they are finished with their education. They also get access to world-class facilities, video game consoles in their lockers, dozens of jerseys, shoes and other apparel, and rings if they win championships. (The list goes on …)
Scholarships Are Worth How Much?
Think about this: student-athletes receive at least $250,000 or more per year in total value at such a young age, and yet somehow that is not enough? Consultation with Pac-12 administrators for this article confirmed that the quarter-million dollars of benefits per year is accurate for scholarship value only. Thus, it is a Million dollars of value for a four-year scholarship … with the $900,000 of educational value beyond a high school diploma not included. A total value of nearly two million for a college football scholarship? (Who knew?)
They want six-year scholarships so they can get both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Does that mean we add another couple hundred thousand in benefit compensation, as well? They also want to be able to test the waters and try to go pro … but if that does not work to their liking, they want to be able to come back to school unhindered.
In many cases, a college education also helps students build friendships and relationships at the university that enhance a career beyond the skills they learn in the classroom. While that “relationship value” cannot be quantified, the impact for many students can be immense.
Student-athletes want unrestricted free speech rights which, one may reasonably assume, includes the abolition of any institutional morality or conduct clause that may govern their ability to speak or express themselves despite being paid ambassadors of the institution, the team and the brand.
They want to be able to hire agents and be represented, and they want to be able to receive unspecified and unlimited benefits from third parties. They also want medical insurance to cover them for six years after their college eligibility expires. Wow!
What happened to appreciating the privilege of attending a highly regarded institution for no personal out-of-pocket cost? Keep in mind, they want graduate school paid for, too, so let us not pretend they are only interested in sports. Many are clearly seeking the higher education and the professional opportunities that result from a master’s degree.
Where’s the Appreciation?
As it stands, the list of demands appears to be a gross overreach by a group of under-appreciative individuals who have failed to acknowledge what they already receive in exchange for their presence and participation.
The demands are not only unreasonable, but also deeply disrespectful. One could argue that it would be better to dismiss these unhappy athletes and replace them with others who graciously wear green and yellow with honor and pride.
We are indeed in the middle of a global pandemic and going through a period of global social justice reform. However, that is not a license to abuse the privilege of voice by working to effectively loot the institution.
Frankly, if you do not like it, leave! #NextManUp
Mind Blown Duck
Bay Area, California
Top Photo by Eugene Johnson
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Andrew Mueller, the FishDuck.com Volunteer Editor for this article, works in higher education in Chicago, Illinois.
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