This blog post by Joe Posnanski raises an interesting perspective on the topic of paying college players. I'm inclined to agree with his hook:
And that led to the words that form the heart of this piece, words that, I have to say, surprised me: “College athletics are NOT about the players.”
Personally, the players don't matter to me as much as the team. Even the best players are only around for four years at most. So would paying them really be justified? I think Posnanski hits the nail on the head when he says:
Ask yourself this: What would happen if tomorrow every single player on the Auburn football team quit and re-formed as a professional team called the Birmingham Bandits. Who would go to their games? Anyone? How much would those talented young men get paid?
Ask yourself this: What would happen if all the ACC basketball schools dropped their players and replaced them with Division II talent? Would North Carolina-Duke suddenly play in empty arenas?
Ask yourself this: Say the first, second and third All-America Teams in college football tomorrow went into the NFL. They just left. How many fewer fans would the college games draw? How many fewer people would watch Texas and Tennessee and Iowa?
What do y'all think? I know the pay-for-play argument has been beaten to death here, but I think this perspective could open up a different discussion.