The NCAA Paying College Athletes Debate Turns Toxic On Twitter

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California legislation has reignited the debate over paying NCAA athletes on a national scale. This topic inevitably finds its way to the forefront during bowl season and March Madness, but it appears to be early this year. It’s also one of the most polarizing debates in sports, which means Twitter had plenty to say.

College football and minor league baseball legend Tim Tebow chimed in on the topic. What prompted the question was a recent decision in the state of California that now effectively allows college athletes to sign endorsement deals. Since this clip went viral, he has been taken to task by former and current athletes, media members, and Twitter users in general.

Twitter tends to be very one-sided when it comes to this issue. The most common opinion is the “It’s absolutely unfair that these poor student athletes don’t get compensated, while the NCAA and big corporate sponsors line their wallets”. It’s a perfectly understandable opinion. Of course we would rather see the people who entertain us make more than some businessmen.

Tebow took the college sports purist argument. His stance is that money undermines what makes college football special to many people. Fair point as well, and there’s some elements of truth to it.

I agree and disagree with parts of both arguments. The only thing I really feel strongly about is that I believe NCAA athletes should have the opportunity to earn money by working, selling their image and likeness, etc… In a rare occurrence, California did something sensible.

So while someone like me may be receptive to the idea of college athletes getting paid, there are things that are extremely annoying and off-putting about the people who are going after people like Tebow.

The idea that it’s an injustice that someone who is already getting their education paid for isn’t getting paid a salary is insane to me. Let me repeat this: they’re getting their fucking education paid for!! That’s no small thing nowadays! College costs a hell of a lot. I don’t think that’s surprising to anyone. Be grateful that there’s a system which benefits you for being great at sports.

Do we expect difference of opinion on Twitter though? Nowhere do people get more of a hard on for injustice and oppression. Just read some of the replies here:

Another aspect of Twitter: the rational guy who says “let’s hear both sides” gets raked over the coals.

While there are a few guys at the top getting rich off of college athletics, there’s no disputing that the current system, flawed as it may be, has given so much to so many who would otherwise not have had those opportunities. That’s business. 

Like I said, student athletes should at the very least be allowed to earn money while on scholarship. The NCAA cracks down hard on this because they know that athletic departments are always looking for that loophole to exploit. NCAA rules exist to keep more of an even playing field, but who are we kidding? Only a small handful of programs actually have a chance to win championships in football and basketball on a year to year basis, so let’s not act like this is a fair playing field. Letting these athletes earn money wouldn’t add to the corruption that already exists.

So while I basically disagree with Tebow’s opinion, as I find it to be naive, I’m far more annoyed with the people coming after him for expressing his opinion. As someone still paying student loans at 31, I would have been more than grateful to have a school to foot the bill just because I can help their football team win a few games. Never mind all of the opportunities that these student athletes will have after leaving college, even if they don’t play pro sports. We live in a world where networking and “who you know” is king. They will have advantages in that department as well. The idea that every issue is a clear cut “victim vs. oppressor” is stupid and needs to stop. While this system isn’t perfect, the “victims” have it pretty damn good.

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