The Economics of College Sports: Companies' Role in Athlete Pay

Published: 2021-06-26 18:20:04
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Category: Marketing, Athletes

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Sports apparel companies take things to a whole new level and amplify just how easy it has become to make money off of college athletes. The first names that come to mind when I think about which companies are the most common name brands worldwide would have to be Nike, Under Armor and Adidas.
Of course, I also think about a couple more companies such as Puma and Asics as well. The reason this subject has come into the spotlight is because sports apparel companies have now been using similar tactics as the NCAA to endorse their paraphernalia. As you can see in Figure 4 which depicts a 30-year block of time, there has been a steady increase of student-athletes in the NCAA. This increase in athletic participation means that companies like Under Armor have more people that they can take images of wearing their brand, and then use those images instead of paying for photoshoots of people in their merchandise.Nike is constantly hosting and sponsoring events to get their brand out there. A perfect example of an event like this would be OFSAA, which is the largest high school track meet in North America. I’ve participated in this meet 4 times in my high school career and one common denominator was that Nike was always the event’s biggest sponsor. At sporting functions like this, Nike would send plenty of photographers and videographers to gain footage of the day’s events, all with the intention of re-using it to sell their products even more.
There are track meets out there named the “Nike Classic” and “New Balance Nationals”. These events would then be attended by world-class athletes and people that would bring more attention and publicity to these events. This would then entice more people, athlete and non-athlete, to want to buy the gear of those companies. College athletes that attend these events are literally acting as sponsors for these large companies. Nike, Adidas, New Balance… they all make money whenever someone sees an NCAA athlete in their apparel, participating in their sports on television or even on their official social media accounts.
Time and time again, the athletes come out with the short end of the stick that involves no compensation for the work that they have put in and no one seems to think that it is a big enough problem to try and change it permanently, in ways where everyone can see a profit.
Popular Opinions
Famous athletes all around the world have given their opinions about the NCAA and whether they think the system is fair. But one thing is for certain, a significant number of the NCAA athletes that are considered to be world-class, soon leave school to go pro instead. Why is that? Because no matter how much you love the sport that you play, “pay for play” will always be an attractive alternative to athletes that have been “playing for the love of the sport” for their entire lives. If you can play a sport well and you love it, why not get paid for that love of the game as well?
Lebron James, the second-most paid athlete in the world, is not a fan of how the NCAA operates. When asked what he thinks about collegiate athletics, he explains that he has “always heard the narrative that they get a free education, but you guys are not bringing me on campus to get an education. You guys are bringing me on it to help you get to a Final Four or to a national championship” (Drape, J). It does indeed come across this way to millions of people, and even many of the athletes themselves. I’ve heard all too many stories and watched to many movies to ignore the fact that at most colleges and universities, the athletes are there for one main reason. That is to perform well athletically, make the school look good and to make the coach happy. There are so many student-athletes that do not consider themselves as students first.
Many come in with the mindset that yes, “everyone could benefit from another year of higher education. But, frankly, [colleges and universities prefer] only that you bring it [glory] and fill up its arenas so the television money continues to pour into the athletic department and the proud alumni keep writing the [schools] donation checks” (Drape, J). School athletics departments, like the one at Wagner College, along with the NCAA, fight to spread a different message and ensure that their athletes come out well-rounded, but some continue to wonder whether this is really possible.
The reality for most has become the fact that student-athletes are often faced with an extreme pressure to do well that has been placed on them by those that surround them. Unless you have experienced exactly what it is like to be a collegiate athlete, you will never understand just how much it feels to be taken advantage of in the ways that they are.

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