Football Revenue is a Pie You'll Never Taste: A "Why Pay The Players" Guide To ArguingS

People who don't think college athletes should be compensated are becoming increasingly reminiscent of climate change deniers: they do still exist, but they're slowly being converted and, barring that, hopefully the ice caps will melt and drown them soon. Unfortunately, there's still a chance you'll spot them in the wild (if you've ever read the comments on ProFootballTalk, the odds you've locked horns with one increases to double infinity). How are you supposed to engage them for long enough to lead them out of Plato's Cave and drag them, kicking and screaming into the sun? Thanks for asking.

1. Tell them: "You'll never be a football player"

It doesn't matter what your college experience was like. You didn't get a scholarship - you weren't fast or smart enough. You weren't in enough clubs. That's too bad! I mean, what do you want? Do you want everyone to be in the same shitty frats, get the same grades and have as little sex as you did in college? When your toy breaks, do you want me to break your brother's so everything's fair? If you could have offered something to the University as valuable as a Top 100 football recruit or a kid with a 2400 SAT, then maybe you'd have had a better time.

People have this problem with football players when they graduate to the NFL, too. "Why do they get paid so much?!" they exclaim, and if they're not concentrating, "I don't get paid that much" might even slip out right behind.

Imagine this: there's a big ass pie with "Football Revenue" as the filling. You provided some of the ingredients, say, flour [jerking off motion] but once it was baked, nobody invited you to the table. The only guys there are a University President, Tom Brady, an 18 year old wide receiver from LSU and Jerry Jones. You will never be invited to the table. You're just mad about which guys get the biggest slice. And you're stumping for the fattest motherfuckers in the room.

2. Tell them: "It's none of your business what they do with the money"

Players want money because they've earned it. They earned it for the University, that is, who reinvested it in their billion-dollar endowment and sucked off some interest for a Presidential raise. You may have contributed to their stipends by showing up for games or buying a jersey with their numbers (but not their names!) on it. But once it's theirs, you don't get a say on how they spend it, and how they spend it doesn't make the payments any more or less necessary. You don't follow your waiter or cab driver home and make sure they buy generic cereal. You don't tell the clerk at Best Buy to keep his insurance collision-only until he's selling a few more TVs. And you damn sure don't tell a soldier returning from Afghanistan that the Mustang is a little too extravagant for someone in the public service. Mind your own fucking business.

A player can buy a turkey on Thanksgiving or a 24k gold necklace that says "Fuck the Police". It's his own damn money. If you want to tell someone what to do with their own money, become an investment banker. Maybe you can work for one of the Universities you love so much.

3. Tell them: "Stop pretending degrees are worth what Universities say they are"

Simply because The University of Kentucky gets away with charging $21,203.00/year for tuition doesn't mean a degree from UK is worth $84.812.00. This kind of math is a waste of time. What if you really take huge course loads and finish in 3 years? Was your education then worth $63,609.00? What if you were in-state? Was your education half as valuable? What about a B.S. in Engineering vs. a B.A. in Art History? After accounting for variance in fees among degree programs, are these pieces of paper worth equivalent amounts in the job marketplace? Your education isn't "worth" the amount you pay for it, nor is it quantified by how much you make in the 10 years after graduation. Your college didn't gift you $150,000 over 4 years or you'd be declaring it on your taxes, so stop acting like they decided to educate you out of pure benevolence.

Actually, even private colleges receive 31% of their tuition income from the government, which not only means ghastly annual increases in tuition and room & board have been subsidized and inflated so much it's not even funny, but also that those oh-so-lucrative athletic scholarships aren't exactly coming out of the AD's wallet. Your local uni might not be for-profit, but that doesn't mean it's not somehow stumbling and bumbling its way into the black every fiscal year, by hook or by crook.

4. Tell them: "It doesn't matter what the players study"

If you've ever watched a college football game and wondered why, on one out of a few hundred different plays, your team's All-American right guard let a 6'6" 250lb screaming mass of biceps and tendons blow right past him and eat the quarterback's lunch, consider what would happen if his big country ass weren't in the weight room four hours a day and on the field practicing snap counts and protections for another four. Do you think that, just maybe, a 19 hour semester in the Chemistry department is a little much to ask for these guys?

Students on an athletic scholarship are *ahem* compensated but not paid to be on the field, not in the classroom. Minimum grade point averages are archaic lip service to the student-athlete myth. And since we've already established the money is rightfully theirs and they can do as they please with it, why are we concerned about which book they stick their noses in when they get home? Is any discipline but the most academically prestigious unworthy of pursuit? I've heard biomedical engineering is the toughest program on campus - raze the Spanish department to the fucking ground!

5. Tell them: "Don't kill the messenger"

People who cover college football aren't the problem. And they're not hypocrites if they advocate for players to be paid without a boycott of college football content. Even if for some stupid reason you thought bloggers, writers, photographers and Brent Musburger should start a pool for college players, recall that not only does the NCAA not pay its athletes, it makes sure no one compensates them, even with a fuckin' car ride to the store. There's no way for journalists, etc. to help besides A) Continuing to cover the sport and B) pointing out the injustice of the players' lack of compensation. And most places are doing that.

There's a huge logical disconnect here as well, where you allow yourself to confuse what blogs are doing with what universities are doing. A sports blog known for its funny comments and terrible redesigns, for instance, posts a Top 10 recap and sells $200 worth of ads. They take freely-available information and put it in a timely, interesting package and make enough to do the next story*. The NCAA and its constituent universities, on the other hand, by virtue of attracting people a few years younger than the age at which a few will become professional athletes, has an enormous unspoken minor league contract for every pro sport drop into its lap. In order to make as much money as possible, they pretend there's no difference between a student and an amateur athlete, a byzantine stroke of genius that manufactures the most successful colleges hundreds of millions of dollars a year.** Which of those two entities is in a better position to fix the problem?

*And, one could argue, continuing coverage of the sport increases the athletes' leverage when the time finally comes to agree on the terms of their payment

**Excluding government subsidies