UNITED STATES—This is an age old debate that people have chatted about for years. However, I would like to bring an entirely new perspective to the mix based on my personal and work experience. So the question of the hour looms: should student athletes be paid? Some of you might be asking why this issue is coming to the forefront yet again. Well, it’s the result of the student athlete being forced to choose rather playing football or the YouTube videos that he makes to bring in income.

Discussing that ultimatum is an entirely loaded issue in itself America, and we can discuss that at another time. My focus here is to really talk about the chaos that many student athletes endure and that millions, probably billions of dollars universities and the NCAA make off athletes who participate in a variety of sports. As a college undergraduate I had pals who were athletes and I knew plenty about the inner workings of what they endured because I tutored so many of them and got an inside scoop on the life of a student athlete and it’s no cakewalk people.

Before actually having a conversation with student athletes, I always thought they had it easy. So many would never show up to class, when they had games to play they were excused from class and could make arrangements to take exams during times that personally fit their schedules. It was almost like athletes were getting special perks that everyday student never got the opportunity to indulge in. However, after working as a tutor for my university (whose name shall remain anonymous), it opened my eyes to the chaos and struggles that student athletes have to endure.

Let me say this first, some sports have a cakewalk compared to others where it seems the world is constantly moving 24/7. I would make the argument that football and basketball athletes have the most chaotic schedules, but to be honest, football stars have it the worst. Working with student athletes and their academics, you learn they don’t get to have that much of a life. At my alma mater student athletes had to have a GPA of at least a 3.0 to not have tutorials during the week. If your GPA was lower than that, you had tutorials in between classes and practice.

I started to see a bit of emotion and sympathy for the football players who in most cases began their day at 5 or 6 a.m. and it doesn’t end until maybe 9 or 10 p.m. Making the situation worse they have to get up and do it all over again the next day. Football players only get like 2-3 weeks where no football is in play and that is normally right after the end of football season and is dependent if they have a bowl game or not. Making the situation worse is the start of the winter semester, where training begins for the next year. So it’s a 24/7 job.

With that being said, I do believe athletes should be compensated for performing for universities and the NCAA. Why? Many of them have no way of earning income if they are practicing, attending classes and tutorials during the week. Yes, you have a college scholarship, but at the same time, does that $20k a year, amount to the millions or billions of dollars the universities earns from these athletes. I’ve heard stories from athletes noting they have literally no money after tuition, room and board and books are accounted for. I mean college is expensive, you have to be able to travel from A to B, you might want to have a night out on the town; if you don’t have any money it becomes that much more difficult to make something happen America!

Yes, getting an education is great, really great, because we know with many student athletes the idea of going pro is a dime a dozen so having something to fall back on makes an epic difference. So yes, getting a college education for playing a sport is great, but what happens if that student athlete is injured while playing on the field or court. What happens next? Does that scholarship stand or is it taken away? I think we all know the answer to that people.

I honestly do not see the problem with some sort of compensation or a stipend that could be offered to student athletes to help with basic expenses. It doesn’t have to be something of epic proportions. I’m not advocating for these people to be paid millions of dollars like the pros, but some sort of compensation to help them get through the semester or unexpected surprises that may come up where they need a little bit of extra cash. This is a given if they are unable to work or their parents don’t have the funds to supply to them.

Yes, we can run into the issue of the university or NCAA arguing the issue that if the student athletes receive pay then they are considered employees and you get into the issue of taxes, unemployment or workers compensation. It’s inevitable, it can indeed transpire, but is it fair for these athletes to sacrifice their livelihood to entertain the masses only to have their possibility of going pro to fizzle into the air without any just cause? I mean come on America; you would want to be paid if you were doing something you were good at.

Those who receive academic scholarships still get the opportunity to work and earn money even though the university is paying for their education, why can’t the same apply for student athletes? Most CAN’T, they don’t have the time or a flexible schedule where they can work. This is an issue that needs serious consideration, even though so many people are quick to say no, it’s a bit more complicated than people think.