Chance survey of U.S. citizens shows majority still in favor of amateurism
The world of college sports continues to be a cornerstone of American society. Whether you look at attendance figures, television coverage and revenue, or the stardom achieved by some players before turning professional, there’s no doubt that NCAA events are capable of matching — and sometimes even bettering — the influence of professional sporting events.
The defining separator between college and pro sports in America is, of course, money. Beyond compensating students for the cost of attendance to their college, the “amateurism” principle prevents players from earning a salary through competing. Following the annual spectacle of March Madness in college basketball, in which the NCAA has netted a near $9 billion deal for broadcasting rights for the next five years, the argument over whether college players should get a slice of the financial pie has resurfaced once more.
It’s a fearsome debate, but the results of a survey on the topic from Chance suggests that there is still a long way to go before those in favor of paying collegiate athletes are in the majority, rather than the minority.
Should College Athletes Be Paid? The Majority Say No
We surveyed 151 U.S. citizens on five questions regarding the topic of paying collegiate athletes, all with two answers available. The first question, asking whether or not they should be paid, produced an empathic response:
71.2% of respondents were against the idea of paying students participating in sports, and breaking down the results produces more interesting statistics. Women (75.7%) were even more against the concept than men (66.2%), whilst those most commonly opting to say no to the idea were in the 25-34 age category — ages where professional, paid athletes are most likely to fall within.
With that in mind, perhaps it’s unsurprising that the only age group bucking the trend was the 18-24 group, with 59.1% stating that college players should be paid.
We then asked hypothetical questions for the scenario where collegiate players were actually paid. We asked who, out of the NCAA or the athletes’ respective colleges, should pay the students. 54.9% believed it should be the NCAA and all age groups were in agreement, with the 55-64 group leaning the most towards the NCAA (62.6%).
The subject of equal pay across genders was then raised. Interestingly, the majority of respondents stated their belief that any pay system for college athletes should be fair and equal between males and females (82.3%). On the topic of equality, we also asked whether equal salary caps across colleges should be introduced. 79.6% believed this should be implemented, possibly with a view to move the relative parity in college sports closer towards that of the pros.
Collegiate athletes are also not allowed to accept sponsorship deals under the amateurism principle, but when we asked whether this rule should remain, the results were close. 56.9% were not in favor of sponsorship deals, so this may be something we’re a little closer to overturning than a full-blown pay system.
Can We Expect a Change in the College Pay System Any Time Soon?
The NCAA is willing to consider changes to its approach. In 2015, it accepted that stipends or discretionary funds can be paid by colleges to its students to cover aspects like travel costs and basic leisure. This, however, is not capped, governed or equalized across individuals or colleges.
The excitement and public interest around many college sporting occasions in undoubted, and can make it seem odd that those performing on that stage are not financially rewarded. It can be especially baffling when you consider the handy salaries paid to coaches of these players.
Of course, this must be balanced with the other priorities of students, such as education, and the worries of giving young people too much, too soon are real amongst many. Whilst the results of this survey may back up the current status quo, we don’t expect the debate surrounding money and college sports to die down any time soon.