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Zion Williamson
AP Photo/Richard Shiro

United States Senator Chris Murphy is a big college basketball fan. Much like everyone else, the politician from Connecticut loves March Madness. There’s just something about this time of year that brings out the best and worst sports fan in all of us. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

However, Murphy has a problem. While everyone else gets rich, the student-athletes playing in the games get nothing. The U.S. Senator isn’t the first person with this gripe, nor will he be the last. This is just the latest lobby in an argument that has more flaws than you can count.

“Listen, there’s no arguing that there’s a magic to March Madness. College sports are a big part of our culture,” he said. “There’s a lot of good in college sports for athletes and for schools, but there’s also something rotten about an industry that generates billions of dollars in money for everybody except the student-athletes actually playing in the games.”

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Does the NCAA make a lot of money? Hell yes. Do television contracts help make the organization and schools even more money? Absolutely. Does that mean student-athletes should be paid? That’s only a matter of opinion.

To be honest, it’s beyond a touchy subject. This could be the longest article in FanBuzz history just playing devil’s advocate. There is no way to please anyone in the argument no matter how hard you try.

“Lots of people are getting rich off of college sports except for one notable group: the student athletes who are actually playing the games. Yeah, they get scholarships. But those scholarships make up a tiny fraction of the money by those athletes and their likenesses. And if a student gets injured or can’t compete or runs afoul of the byzantine rules regarding what student-athletes can and cannot do, they lose out on their scholarship entirely.

“There’s no question that the NCAA isn’t putting players first. And that needs to change. It’s time for the NCAA to find a way to fairly compensate student-athletes, at least in basketball and football, and understand that making kids work for free while everyone gets rich of their labor except for them is a civil rights issue.”

— U.S. Senator Chris Murphy

While Sen. Chris Murphy acknowledges there is no simple solution, he still feels the players in basketball and football — the only two major revenue-generating sports in college athletics — should get paid.

Here are a few problems with that:

— If Title IX means all things should be equal, does that mean Duke Blue Devils superstar Zion Williamson would get the same money as a women’s tennis star? The logistics on the rule are fuzzy, but this seems like something that would have to happen.

— Most college students have jobs to pay for college. Most student-athletes play sports to keep the money they receive in scholarship. Ask anyone with student loan debt how they feel about that. And let’s not mention the meals, stipend, and swag student-athletes receive.

— If a college student were allowed to hire an agent to help with outside marketing endeavors, wouldn’t that strip their amateurism?

— How in the world would anyone gauge how much a college athlete’s likeness really is in comparison to other student-athletes? This seems impossible.

Look, the argument is valid. It’s tough to sit back and watch others make stacks of money during the NCAA Tournament while groups of 18-to-22-year-olds don’t make anything. You know the athletes and some coaches agree, which creates a big-time problem for the multi-billion dollar industry.

However, no matter how much it makes sense to pay athletes, someone is getting the short end of the stick and that’s why nothing has changed or will change with the current system for the foreseeable future.

READ MORE: Remembering the U.S. Senator Who Brought Us Gender Equality in Sports

Author placeholder image About the author:
With over 10 years of sports writing experience, Brett has covered some of the top local, regional, and national sporting events in the Heartland for both print and digital platforms. He is a graduate of Kansas State University and resides in Austin, Texas.
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