When most people think of basketball players, stars like Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, and Stephen Curry come to mind.
Basketball players appear to some as multi-millionaire rock stars touring the world living lavishly.
There are more or less about 360 players employed in the NBA as all 30 teams need to reduce their roster to 12 players before the regular season begins. And unless the team is the Golden State Warriors, most teams will have a couple players warming the bench while earning around a million dollars that year.
Money is not an issue for players in the NBA. However, not all basketball players are NBA players.
The NCAA, arguably the second-most if not the most famous league in America, is composed of 18,320 male basketball college players that go unpaid every year. About 1.2 percent of those basketball players from the NCAA make it into the pros.
Some argue that tuition and the chance to advance to the NBA is enough compensation for college athletes. While that holds merit, the NCAA is the career apex for a majority of these college athletes, and many of these players come from poorer backgrounds.
Although tuition is paid for, many athletes have trouble finding spending money on simple pleasures like food since they cannot hold a part-time job as a majority of their time is poured into practice.
“You don’t have time to get a part-time job [when you play college basketball or football], Shane Battier, a former elite defender who played for the Miami’s championship team, told The Huffington Post. “When I was in college, things like buying a pizza for my girlfriend — who is now my wife — or going to a movie, I necessarily couldn’t afford.”
Well it’s only college basketball, they cannot possibly pay players enough to buy pizza for their girlfriends.
Wrong. The NCAA grosses a comparable figure to the NBA if not more.
According to Business Insider, in 2013 during their postseason the NCAA grossed $1.15 billion in ads compared to the NBA’s $929 million of ad revenue in their playoffs.
Of those players, only the best of them move on to the NBA to profit.
The NCAA has actively advocated itself as an “amateur” league as opposed to a professional one.
While the loss of “amateurism” is a hit to the NCAA brand, March Madness will still come every year. The betting pools of March Madness will run rampant year after year, and so too will the ratings of college basketball.
Transitioning from an amateur league to at least a semi-professional one will be rocky, but cutting the players a slice of the millions that flow into Division I colleges each year is only ethical.
It would not kill the NCAA to pay their players so they can go see a movie on the weekend after the countless hours of intense practice.