By Sonny Tapia
Collegiate athletes should continue being unpaid in order to sustain that undeniable goal of making it professionally in sports.
In recent years the discussion of whether or not college athletes should be paid has been brought up during March Madness, Bowl Championship Series and College World Series performances.
Athletes like Michael Jordan, Doug Flutie, Jackie Robinson and Earvin “Magic” Johnson have all played at a high level during their college years with the idea in mind that they would one day deserve compensation.
Jordan won the National Collegiate Athletic Association Basketball Championship in his freshman year at the University of North Carolina in 1982 and averaged 13.5 points per game.
Without the thought of being one step away from the National Basketball Association, would Jordan have performed at such a high intensity?
The one player that has sparked the argument in the NCAA once again is 6-feet-7-inch 285 pound forward from Duke University, Zion Williamson.
He ended the 2018-2019 season averaging 22.6 points per game, 8.9 rebounds per game and hit 68% of his shots from the field.
This type of performance was something that the NCAA has not seen before on a basketball court.
Williamson has the projected first pick going to the New Orleans Pelicans.
When he was in high school he constantly kept in his mind that he wanted to play in the NBA.
That was his goal to accomplish at the end of his freshman year at Duke.
That mental determination is what brought him to the position he is currently in.
The determination to get into the NBA drives young athletes to be better.
Getting paid would shift their focus to a paycheck coming in every other week, when they should be focused on making the big leagues and keeping their grades in check.
An athlete cannot enter the league without a backup plan in place.
There needs to be a safety net for them to fall back on if it does not work out as planned.
Yet many fail to do so.
According to Sports Illustrated, 78% of National Football League players are in financial crisis within the first two years of retirement.
Sixty percent of NBA players are also in financial crisis within five years of retirement.
The athletes need to have a sports background just as much as they need an educational one.
When a student is preoccupied with whether or not their compensation is in their bank account or in the mail, they forget about homework and grades.
College is where the knowledge in the classroom is built.
It would be foolish to assume they could make it in the league before and after retirement without knowing how to deal with business matters.
Once players have made it professionally, they can solely focus on their job.
College is for learning and not financial gain.
When athletes make the championship series in college, that is where they will get noticed by the scouts from different organizations all over the world.
That is their moment to shine with their athletic ability and to prove they are the best in the nation at what they do.
No one can buy the feeling they get when they are on the biggest stage in their collegiate career, knowing they have a chance to prove themselves to thousands in attendance and millions watching around the world.