No, colleges don't exploit their athletes

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Student-athletes should not be paid a salary or be allowed to unionize.

College football kicked off Aug. 26, and for most of the seniors on the field, this year will be the last time they ever wear a football uniform.

The overwhelming majority of them will never play again.

Of the 70,000 students who play college football, fewer than 2 percent will be drafted into the NFL, according to research from the . Put another way, 98 percent of college students who play football will be launching careers in something other than sports when their eligibility ends.

They will no longer be competing for playing time. They will be competing for jobs.

The same is true in college basketball, where news of the relatively few players who leave school early to enter the NBA draft sometimes skews the reality of intercollegiate athletics. The truth is fewer than 2 percent of all college basketball players will be drafted into the NBA.

Most of the 170,000 students who play Division I sports don’t play the games they love so they can make a living. They play them so they can learn to make a life. They do that by earning college degrees and learning the invaluable lessons sports teaches them.

Critics of college athletics claim college athletes are exploited. They argue that students who play sports should be paid salaries because their schools generate revenue from televised games.

Despite the claims of critics and plaintiff’s lawyers who want to dismantle college athletics as we know it, our students who play sports are not exploited. They are educated.

College students who play sports are supported at the highest level with strong academic and counseling resources, outstanding facilities, high-quality medical care, unlimited meals and basic benefits the critics take for granted, including scholarships covering tuition, room and board to stipends for living expenses.

These tremendous benefits allow students who play sports on scholarship to graduate without the massive college debt plaguing millions of young Americans. Young people today have an astounding $1.3 trillion in student loan debt. But for those who play college sports, including many who are the first in their family to attend college, it’s extremely important to keep this opportunity engine going strong.

While today’s college athletes enjoy more benefits than they ever have, the data show that the value of college sports goes far beyond what they receive in school.

College athletes graduate at a slightly higher rate than their peers who don’t play sports. They are more likely to get jobs and live healthy and fulfilling lives, according to a wide-ranging Gallup study.

That is the reality of college athletics. Students who play college sports are not professional athletes. They are students. It’s that simple.

College athletes are more successful than their peers who don’t play sports because they are launched into the workplace with experience and skills that give them an advantage that starts at the interview table.

Employers at top companies are looking for more than technical or digital skills in today’s workplace. They want candidates with soft skills, such as the ability to work well on diverse teams, manage time effectively and fit into their company’s culture. In other words, they are looking for employees who are good teammates.

Those who claim college athletes are taken advantage of also fail to appreciate the inherent value of a college degree. According to the most recent earnings study by the College Board, college graduates will earn 67 percent more than high school graduates over the span of a 40-year working career.

The disparity is even higher among young women. Women ages 25-34 with four-year degrees will earn 84 percent more than women with a high school education.

The bottom line? Intercollegiate athletics opens doors of opportunity for nearly 500,000 students who compete at more than 1,100 institutions across the nation. While they only play their sport for four years, they benefit from their education and experience for the rest of their lives.

Today’s college students who play sports on scholarship receive more benefits than ever, from living expenses on top of scholarships and more time off to multiyear scholarships that guarantee their aid will never be taken away.

Those are just a few of the positive changes that are helping our students succeed in college and in life.

And that is what college athletics is all about.

is commissioner of the Big Ten Conference and Andrea Williams heads the Big Sky Conference.

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Article No, colleges don't exploit their athletes compiled by Original article here

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