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OPINION: Why NIL is actually a good thing for college athletes

“This is a zillion dollar industry and these kids are getting nothing out of it. That needs to change.”

Ever since I fell in love with sports when I was 10 years old, this was the general consensus for the answer to the number one question concerning the amateur level of athletics.

Should players in college be paid?

To me, this answer is a no-brainer.

Even though the response above is one that I have heard repeatedly throughout my life, I have to agree.

The NCAA generated around $940 million in annual revenue in 2022, and without a doubt, the biggest reason why is because of its athletes.

The individuals that put their blood, sweat and tears, who put their bodies on the line to not only play the game they love, but to entertain us, the fans. 

They give us a pleasant distraction for a few hours out of the old routine from our everyday lives, and we repay them by coming out to their events and supporting them, along with having their support every opportunity we can.

Not only that, but little kids watch college athletes and turn them into idols that they look up to. 

Positive role models that show characteristics on and off the field such as respect, dignity and gratitude on and off the playing field give those who wish to play in places such as Bryant-Denny, Cameron Indoor, Alex Box Stadium and more college level athletic facilities one word, hope. 

But with that aside, there are some thinking that the result from the NIL craze has been too much.

Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders has accumulated $4.7 million.

NIL, also known as name, image and likeness, are how college athletes profit from sponsors and endorsers, and those who think it has gone overboard believe there is one big factor as to why Sanders has accumulated that much money.

Because his daddy is his coach.

Well here’s the thing.

Not only does his daddy draw eyeballs, but he and his team do as well.

From Weeks 3-5 of the college football season, the most watched game of the week included the Colorado Buffaloes, averaging 8.86 million viewers. 

People who believe that Sanders shouldn’t be getting all his inquiries also think it’s because of his team’s record.

After the Buffs started the year 3-0 and being ranked as high as 18th in the nation in the College Football Playoff rankings in that stretch, Colorado lost eight of their last nine games, missing out on a bowl game altogether.

But to the naysayers, I propose this.

How would you feel if more than 50,000 people (the capacity of Colorado’s home stadium, Folsom Field) paid money to watch you and your coworkers perform at your job? To me, college athletes’ jobs are the sport that they compete in. On top of that, nine million people watched you perform at your job from their living room on television.

Wouldn’t you want a little bit of compensation for it? I know I would. And I feel like a good majority of people would as well.

Many big names have graced the college sports landscape. 

Some call Tim Tebow the greatest college football player of all time when he was quarterbacking the Florida Gators in the late 2000s. Won two BCS National Championships. Didn’t get a penny.

Michael Jordan hit a game winning jump shot to win the North Carolina Tar Heels a national title in 1982 in front of a sold out Ceasers Superdome in New Orleans. Didn’t get a penny.

Sabrina Ionescu is the leader all time in terms of all-time triple doubles in NCAA history while playing at Oregon. Didn’t get a penny.

Remember when I said how would you feel if a ton of people watched you and didn’t get compensated for it? Now imagine being one of the best employees at your job and not getting compensated. It would sting, wouldn’t it?

So to those of you who think that student athletes getting money from NIL’s are a bad thing or it’s too much, I’ll say this.

I respect your opinion.

But to me, these athletes are helping draw the organization they play for millions of dollars at the end of the day.

So let the kids play, even if it means they get to have a little cash in their pockets as a result of it.

Matt Kiraly is an opinion writer. Contact him at [email protected].

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