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SC SAEL 200 - Addressing Ethical Controversy: The NCAA

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Hunter HartnettProfessor GordynSAEL 2006 May 2014Addressing Ethical Controversy: The NCAAAny publicized and media-driven debate is going to consist of well-constructed arguments on either side. The NCAA athlete-pay controversy is no different. There are several strong points made in opposition to reforming policies affecting participant compensation as well as rights held by the participants within the organization. I believe that these NCAA athletes deserve more power with in the NCAA and that restrictions regarding the athletes from receiving compensation needto be loosened. That doesn’t mean, however, that these opposing arguments can be immediately discredited without further consideration. Some call into question how much these athletes are already receiving in the way of college admissions, scholarships, and benefits from their universities. Others criticize proposed alterations to policy and expose underlying issues in regards to empowering players through unions and the underlying mindset that goes along with paying athletes.The most primitive argument against paying college athletes stems around a term coined by the NCAA, student-athlete. According Horace Mitchell of US News, “Students are not professional athletes who are paid salaries and incentives for a career in sports. They are students receiving access to a college education through their participation in sports, for which they earn scholarships to pay tuition, fees,room and board, and other allowable expenses. Collegiate sports is not a career or profession. It is the students' vehicle to a higher education degree” (Mitchell). Others, however, contend that theses student athletes are putting in the work and sacrifice, and should receive a share of the benefits. Many times, this is in response to the revenue figures of the NCAA, a staggering $876 million in 2012 according to Steve Berkowitz of the USA Today. The ethical issue from which these two argumentsarise can be most accurately summed up by David McNaughton’s coverage of conceptions of moral realisms in his book, Moral Vision. According to McNaughton, “If we discover that two of our beliefs are inconsistent then we must abandon at least one of them because two inconsistent beliefs cannot both be true.” (McNaughton 7). When individuals take into account those two original ideologies they immediately believe that if one is true, the other must be dismissed. This prevents from any middle ground being found or consolations made; each party dismisses the others argument as invalid as it is inconsistent with their own. I believe this is an issue because it prevents the correlation of ideas into a negotiable middle ground. One resolution I have previously proposed involves allowing third party entities to pay athletes for their time through mediums such as appearances and endorsements. This is a realistic proposition, which, similar to the Olympics, alleviates pressure off of the host organizations (the universities in this case) but still allows room for the athletes to profit and obtain financial security. However, a resolution such as this would be unobtainable without the ability to take both oppositions into account.That is not the only issue that has risen in response to financial statistics regarding the NCAA and its member institutions. A lot of the criticism in the media today is being attributed to blind attempts at pointing the finger at profiting organizations. According to Reike and Sillars in The Nature of Arguments, “When people find that something is a problem, they seek to find a cause for it” (Reike/Sillars 105). Many of those calling for action are simply seeing a discrepancy and calling for action, rather than understanding the situation and issues that could arise. In The Nature of Arguments, this is termed “argument by cause” (Reike/Sillars 105). While it is true that this spurs much of the opposition, it does not account for the statistical discrepancies themselves, nor the facts provided. Regardless of how attention has reached and covered these issues, they still are issues that need to be addressed. The players are being kept from hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue that can almost be directly attributed to them. Why this inconsistency is being brought to light does not change that fact that it is an inconsistency and needs addressing. Russ Shafer-Landau, in The Fundamentals of Ethics, states, “People who are alike in all relevant respects should get similar treatment” (Shafer-Landau 6). These players are still not seeing some of the benefits they have earned. Even minor changes that would allow the athletes to profit off of their names would significantly lighten the calls for reform in this regard.One of the more serious stances against reforming player pay policies involves progress. Taken from The Elements of Moral Philosophy, James Rachel believes “Progress means replacing a way of doing things with a better way. But by what standard do we judge the new ways as better?”(Rachels 22). Essentially, justbecause reforms are made doesn’t mean that progress is made. Not all changes are for the better, and taking drastic actions now could lead towards a path of regressionin the future. However, I believe that, in regards to Cultural Relativism, allowing these collegiate athletes to be paid would be a step forward. Our society has taken a firm stance that compensation is important and to give credit where credit is do. We live in a time where professional contracts are worth tens of millions of dollars and entrepreneurship and profiting is more than encouraged, it is celebrated. Both of these cultural characteristics shed light on a society where compensation is expected for all work and the key to success is money. In regards to our culture, not allowing these collegiate athletes to profit off of their success would strongly contradict much of what we strive for ourselves. From this topic emerges a sub-claim. According to Hannah Arendt, “The various limits and boundaries…may offer protection against the inherent boundlessness of action” (Arendt 178). These existing restrictions are in place for a reason, to ensure order and prevent chaos. Altering this without the proper thought and consideration could lead to countless issues down the road that could ultimately lead to the failure of the NCAA as an association. Paying student athletes has been extremely hard to regulate even when it is completely


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