Michelle Kaufman’s Aug. 14 column, Athletes are compensated, but amateur tag is a sham, is food for thought. The bigger problem is they are not compensated correctly or sufficiently. It’s easy to see why so many young athletes struggle during and after they experience the “wonderful” college benefits listed. Much of it is fool’s gold — foosball tables, training rooms, solid oak lockers, athletic clothing, 40-foot waterfalls, cafeterias modeled after the one at Google’s headquarters. Is there any doubt why it’s so difficult to make sure that these athletes are grounded properly?
Colleges and universities attract young athletes with the alluring material benefits that money (the same money that they are instrumental in generating) may provide for them. Is it surprising that they sometimes have shallow perspectives? The majority of college athletes spend an inordinate amount of time pursuing their athletic goals while motivation and interest in their academic goals can leave a lot to be desired.
Furthermore, the scholarships they might eventually receive can be overrated. Ask any parent or student saddled with student loans whether the high cost of college diplomas today are worth the price. Easily spending $75,000 to $100,000 to earn $25,000 a year after college is the order of the day.
The morally responsible thing for us to do is to ensure that universities and colleges use a portion of the billions generated by young athletes to truly benefit and educate them long-term. Use some of the money they bring in to create long-term investment packages for them. Isn’t that better than foosball tables or solid oak lockers? Why aren’t there more creative minds at the disposal of the NCAA to teach athletes about effective behaviors and investing in their futures?
Too many colleges with high profile athletic programs are no more than institutional sugar daddies. They use money, clout and the promise of riches to bedazzle impressionable young people. But they only tolerate the athletes until they leave or when their talents fade. Then they replace them with another young victim. There is no love there. They can and should do better.
Dwight Rolle, Miami Gardens