Are College Athletes Being Mistreated?

The Florida Times Union, April 5, 2014 | Go to article overview

Are College Athletes Being Mistreated?


When Northwestern University athletes received a first positive response to their attempt to form a union, it shook the collegiate world.

This was only a first step and it did not affect public universities. But the attempt raised a number of questions about how college athletes are treated.

The fact that Northwestern students raised the issue is ironic since those athletes have some of the highest graduation rates in the college universe. Still, they sometimes spend more than 40 hours per week on sports. Does that make them students or employees of the university?

Do they receive special treatment, or are they being taken advantage of?

Or is it a little bit of both?

We asked members of our Email Interactive Group for their insights.

MIXED FEELINGS

I think a small stipend for expenses is reasonable, assuming it's geared to their actual expenses. It would be easy to abuse without some oversight.

The fact that they may spend 40 hours a week on sports isn't relevant. Post-graduate prepaid insurance may be supportable, presuming the athlete doesn't go on into professional sports.

They receive a free undergraduate education. It seems to me that this was the understanding (contract?) they entered into as freshmen.

Should athletes be allowed to share in profits from selling memorabilia that includes their name or image? That sounds reasonable, since the college is benefiting from the athletes' personal fame as performers.

Lots of luck trying to wean colleges from "high stake sports." It has become part of our national culture.

Howard Sculthorpe, Jekyll Island, Ga.

WHAT ABOUT NON-REVENUE SPORTS?

I agree with the concept of a stipend while athletes are in school. I don't agree with health insurance after college. They can get coverage through the Affordable Care Act just like non-athletes can.

Revenue from the sale of memorabilia should go toward the stipends.

The problem is that if athletes in revenue-producing sports get the stipends, there will be a push to extend them to non-revenue producing sports, which may result in the elimination of these sports at many schools, especially those that don't produce big revenues from football and basketball (such as the University of North Florida).

David Schoonmaker, Fleming Island

ALICE IN WONDERLAND

Apparently we have forgotten colleges are supposed to be about educating our youth. Athletics have taken over our campuses.

Our athletic "heroes" are enshrined on plaques, emblazoned in posters, given special dorms and meal privileges, showered with gifts from the alumni, protected from prosecution and admitted with sub-standard grades and test scores.

And now we are to unionize these "students" and provide continuing insurance coverage even after they leave school? …

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