The recent bid by Northwestern University’s players has rankled many, including Ronald Dixon, writer of the April 7 column “Athletes need a new set of standards.” Dixon argues that if the players unionize and begin to earn real wages and benefits, they should be treated like any other university employees. As such, their wages should take the place of their scholarships. This viewpoint shows a misunderstanding of current jobs. Most employers within the University of Minnesota are ready and willing to work around their students’ schedules, the jobs are often office jobs that afford students extra time to work on homework, and the time commitment is fairly minimal. In a 2011 NCAA survey, some intercollegiate athletes reported spending more than 40 hours per week on their sport.
Paying student-athletes in the form of a real wage and benefits is a step in the right direction. However, pretending that playing a major sport is similar to other jobs within a university is simply ignoring the truth of college athletics. A March 2012 New York Times article, “The Myth of the ‘Student-Athlete,’” does a good job of unwrapping the myth that college athletes are normal students who should focus on education first. It’s time to stop pretending that colleges want athletes to be anything other than athletes.