College sports are some of the most supported athletic events in America. Over a hundred thousand people physically go to football games to watch and support their favorite teams, and hundreds of thousands more watch from homes, bars, and anywhere else that will show the game. All of these people have contributed in some monetary form or fashion to the National College Athletic Association (NCAA), and the NCAA does not pay their athletes even though they make a great deal of money from them. Just because this is the case does not mean that the NCAA is an amateur organization.
The NCAA makes millions if not billions of dollars every year off of the sports that are played by member institutions. Nonetheless, the NCAA prides itself on the athletes that compete in intercollegiate play are amateurs and are not compensated. The NCAA is in fact not an amateur organization and they know it as does the rest of the world.
The NCAA was founded in 1906 and the main focus and goal was to help lower the amount of injuries suffered by the athletes playing football. At its founding the NCAA was known as the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (IAAUS). The name switched to the NCAA in 1912 (Sack and Staurowsky 33). The main sport that this organization interacted with was football, this was due to football making the majority of the money for the member institutions and the organization as a whole.
Due to the prominence that the sport of football had athletes were loved not just by their teammates and coaches, but also fans, alumni, and classmates. These people were the ones who hindered the NCAA’s dream of their athletes being amateurs. The fans and alumni who were able to help these athletes in any way possible did help these young men, especially in monetary forms. The NCAA knew that this was occurring and took action to stop it.
At the founding and first annual meeting the NCAA created bylaws that the member institutions had to abide by. The specific position on amateurism appeared in Articles VI and VII of these bylaws. The position was that the athletes were to not be paid and to be in fact amateurs. The NCAA took this position to combat the growing practice of an underground paying of their athletes.
Even though the NCAA had a policy in place for not paying their players it still occurred. The payment of the players has happened since the beginning and these people who pay these players are now known as boosters. Today, these boosters do not directly pay the players and that has been the repercussions of the NCAA taking a stronger stand on the payment of athletes. These boosters that we see today donate money or their time, but the majority of these people donate money to the programs at the schools of their choice and that they most likely graduated from.
The money that these boosters make up go to many different things at these institutions. The facilities is a major aspect of what will be donated to, this includes a variety of things from the actual field or court that is played on, the locker room, the training areas, and even the training room where the athletes receive treatments for their injuries. These boosters today are not as often paying the athletes directly but these athletes are far from the amateurs that the founders of the NCAA had in mind; they are now marketed and get free educations that are valued at over hundred thousand dollars.
Considering how the NCAA allows for boosters to pay for certain aspects of the programs that they desire it is true to say that the athletes that participate in intercollegiate athletics are in fact not amateurs. Not only do these athletes get their education paid for but they also receive clothing and apparel, shoes/cleats, housing, and some food paid for. Therefore, the NCAA is not comprised of amateurs and that by definition makes the NCAA a non-amateur organization.
Suggested readings: College Athletes for Hire: The Evolution and Legacy fo the NCAA’s Amateur Myth by Allen L. Sack and Ellen J Staurowsky