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PHIL 4390 Ethics in Sports

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The National Collegiate Athletic Association should compensate College/University athletes at a minimum without ethically violating policy or rules. College sports bring a lot of money to advertisers and college administrations, but the only people who don’t get any financial benefit are the student-athletes themselves. The public does not know that a college athlete doesn’t receive any compensation for his efforts, even if he sacrifices a lot to achieve success in the chosen sport. College money and profits are not even used for the athletes and their expenses. The huge revenues in college athletics are not going to research or education investments, so the students sometimes see no return on their efforts to maintain their team in the rankings. Instead of going to students and university facilities, the earnings are split between coaches and administrations in the form of huge salaries. A student salary would help athletes invest for their future as well. By having a salary, college athletes would leave school not just with a degree, but with significant savings as well, which will help them begin their adult life securely. In addition, not all student athletes get drafted in a salaried position on a sports team when they graduate. This puts them in a tough spot once they’re out of college. If they don’t end up playing professional sports, all their efforts leave them with nothing. The ultimate goal is for these athletes not to have any college debt upon graduation. A lot of people will disagree on why student-athletes should not receive salaries or compensation for being an athlete. The fact that some athletes receive scholarships and tuition assistance will be one argument, but not all athletes are good enough to receive scholarships. Many will think that the athletes will not value their education and begin to focus more on the monetary value of their skills instead. The belief that college is only there to educate you and not kick start your athletic career is missing the point of why salaries are important to provide and assist with daily expenses for those who do not have wealthy parents. I like Kantian thought on the ethical theory of the Categorical Imperative which is referred to as the Principle Respect for Persons. The NCAA should not treat athletes as merely means to making billions of dollars in revenue for the college/universities. They should respect the fact that the athletes are the ones sacrificing and performing the acts in order for the college/universities to achieve large amounts of publicity and revenue.

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3/27/22 10:04 PM


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This is a good topic and a very good start. Your ethical thesis seems to be something like: collegiate student-athletes should be paid a salary for playing their sports. Does that sound about right? Your argument seems to be mainly rooted in the notion of justice or fairness — which is essentially a matter of giving people what they deserve. As you’ve suggested, the athletes play a major role in bringing in the revenue generated by college athletics, so it seems only fair that they be compensated for their efforts.

Your points about students being able to meet their expenses and pay off or avoid debts if they receive salaries, looks like a utilitarian point: those are good or beneficial consequences of paying athletes. The Kantian “merely as a means” point makes sense too — although opponents might argue that Kantian respect is especially respect for autonomy, and athletes are not coerced into playing in the current system. So you might want to consider how you would respond to that objection.

. Two more points that might be worth considering: 1) the NCAA now allows athletes to receive compensation for the use of their name and likeness (so they can get endorsement contracts, agents, etc.); and 2) only a small percentage of collegiate sports programs make money (so-called “elite” programs) — so some people argue that if student-athletes should be paid, it should only be in programs that make money. Those could be interesting issues to discuss too.

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