Please stop trying to tell me college athletes play for free!

Please stop trying to tell me college athletes play for free!

I listen to more sportstalk radio than I used to, because I know – and like -- a lot of the people behind the mic at all the stations.

But if there’s one thing I could tell them that frustrates me the most when it comes out of their mouths is the assertion that college athletes “play for free.” Or they “don’t get paid.”

I’m wondering how many of these hosts have sent their children to college these days. And more to the point, I also believe that when people say those kinds of things, they seriously underestimate the value of a college education.

Guys, do you have any idea what it costs these days to attend college, especially as an out-of-state student? Do you know what it’s like to graduate with a $100,000 worth of loans to pay off?

At the University of Oregon, for example, if you aren’t an in-state resident – and most of our state’s scholarship athletes aren’t – you would be paying $35,367 a year for the right to sit in a classroom in Eugene. And oh yes, scholarship athletes now receive “cost of attendance” stipends, too. At UO, that amounts to almost $15,000 a year.

So we’re talking about getting about 50 grand a year for playing a sport!

In my world, that’s a lot of money. Now you can say that those people on scholarship are attending college only to play their sport and don’t care about the diploma, but I would counter that those are the ones who will probably benefit the most from college. Whether they take advantage of the opportunity is up to them. And if you want to take that position, please stop calling those people SCHOLAR-ATHLETES.

But they aren’t playing for nothing (and I’m not even talking about all the perks of pre-registration, training table, luxurious study and workout facilities and whatever they can grab from a rich alum).

They are playing for something that has as much value as they put into it.