Sports, United States

NCAA: Modern Slavery

Imagine being the Lebron James of college basketball. You have multiple companies and professional teams talking to you and wanting to pay you, but you could not accept any money. That is the reality for NCAA athletes today. In the 1960’s the NCAA passed a law not allowing NCAA athletes to earn money from playing college sports. This includes getting money from their university and endorsements from companies wanting to sponsor them. Many students at Oak Ridge High School may go onto college to play a sport.  Some of these kids may even be some of the best in the country at what they do. NCAA athletes are watched by millions of people across the country while coaches are getting paid, and the school is making money because of their talents and efforts playing the sport for their college. It would seem fair if the athletes got a little bit of the money. This also is violating the right of the 13th amendment or to basically work without pay.

The 13th amendment was passed on January 31, 1865, abolishing slavery and any act of work without pay. NCAA athletes are basically working athletes. Besides keeping up with their studies, they are practicing everyday and having games in season at least once a week. This is violating the 13th amendment because their coaches and school are getting paid, and they receive no pay and work just as hard or harder than them. Professional athletes work out about the same amount as NCAA athletes and play about the same amount of games, but are making millions of dollars while NCAA athletes get no pay and cannot have endorsement deals. The top NBA athletes sign deals with Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, and all the other big brands and get millions of dollars, so why can’t NCAA athletes, who are just as good in their league, be able to do the same.

NCAA athletes over time have become more popular, for instance 23 million people watched the March Madness game of Villanova vs Michigan. People love watching college sports, that’s why they are broadcasted all over the country. Fans pay to go to games and watch their favorite teams. Advertisement at games and on television pay a lot to be advertised in the big championship games. All that money for all of those events and none of it goes to the players.  It all goes straight back to the coaches, the Universities, and the NCAA. NCAA athletes are tired of the professional athletes having the same exact thing going on as them, but they sign million dollar contracts.

Top athletes in high school just ten years ago would go straight to the professional level if they wanted and had the desire too. Now there are rules saying athletes have to go play one year of college sports before being drafted. This does not seem fair to those elite athletes who do not want to play at the college level. Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony two of the biggest stars in the NBA today did not have to go college.  They went right to the professional level and are two of the wealthiest NBA players today. Lebron James signed a life contract with Nike for a billion dollars. The NCAA is putting too many rules on these young athletes who are basically doing a lot of work with school and not getting any form of payment. This seems unbelievable when their is obviously enough money to go around. If the NCAA paid the players, there would still be plenty of money for themselves, the school, and the coaches to make millions of dollars.

There have been cases where the best athletes in high school have been secretly paid to go to their college. For example, Reggie Bush got caught being paid by the NCAA.  The NCAA was able to prove that USC was paying him to go play for their school. Reggie Bush had to give back the Heisman Trophy he won. This does not seem fair that he had to give it back.  He earned it by being the best player while not even being paid for his efforts that everyone else benefited from financially. If there were rules allowing NCAA athletes to be paid, we would not have problems with coaches secretly paying the top recruits and having to lose their awards like Reggie Bush did. College coaches will do anything to get the top recruits to come to their school. Coaches will offer full ride scholarships, the best dorm rooms, or free food. Some will even break the rules like the USC coach and maybe try to sneak the players cash or a new car. Coaches would not have to sneak aoround if these star athletes could just make back a little bit of what they give to the school.

NCAA athletes deserve to be treated like professional athletes.  They should be able to make money from their skills and the amount of time and work they invest to playing a sport. Also endorsement deals should be allowed for these top NCAA athletes who deserve to make the million dollar endorsement deals with Nike and other top brands. I encourage you to write letters to the NCAA and even possibly the US Government to either convince the NCAA to change their rules and/or convince the government to pass a law requiring student athletes in college to receive some form of payment for all the hard work they give to their sport.

Article by Ryan Carpenter & Video by Ryan Rodgers

Work Cited

Bhagat, Mihir. “Reggie Bush Heisman Scandal: Former USC Star Running Back Returns Heisman Trophy.” Bleacher Report, Bleacher Report, 12 Apr. 2017,

“DI Men’s College Basketball – Home.”,

Theintercept. “The Intercept.” The Intercept,

“13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Abolition of Slavery (1865).” Our Documents – 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Abolition of Slavery (1865),

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