Leveling the playing field

Genva Mueller
Geneva Mueller

The CSU Men’s Football team has 106 names on its roster. Seeing as how no more than 11 of them play at once, this seems a little over-zealous. But regardless, CSU has a large quantity of NCAA Division I football players.

Many of these gentlemen receive compensation for the time that they devote to their sport in the form of scholarships. I am not at all going to contest the validity of this. However, these statistics lead me to the following thoughts.

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According to a statement that Tony Frank released in 2011, the university spends $25 million per year on athletics. Let’s assume that a conservative $2 million is devoted to football scholarships. That means that every single player gets at least $18,000 per year (in the hypothetical scenario where the money is divulged equally). All things considered, at least 50 percent of the team is getting paid almost a full ride to sit on the bench.

I don’t know about you, but in my opinion that’s a pretty hefty pay out to sit around and get cellulite.

I am in no way contesting the validity and necessity of collegiate athletics and the money that goes into it. The ideology of the system, as far as I understand, is that the athletes who receive athletic scholarships are bringing in equally as much revenue in the form of ticket and merchandise sales. While theoretically this is reasonable, there is no way that every football player who is receiving money brings in positive returns of revenue.

Now, I live with two athletes and the way in which they have devoted themselves entirely to their sport is truly awe-inspiring. Being a collegiate level athlete is without a doubt harder than any other job that the average student could go out and find. All things considered, these students bring recognition and much needed acclaim to our school.

But what about those students who work pro bono in labs with professors on developmental research projects? What about the students who have their research published in scholarly journals? These students encapsulate the essence of what university is supposed to be about and yet most of them pay in full and graduate with a piece of paper reading “diploma” and a pile of debt. This system is fundamentally unequal and quite allegorical to our society as a whole.

We live in a world where there is a clear and increasing divide between winners and losers. While the “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” mentality prevails in some corners of society, the myth of the American Dream that came out of the golden age of the 1950s is quickly diminishing. This system is no longer sustainable.

Inequality is everywhere. But practices that become normative on a small scale are eventually replicated and become perpetual. Before anyone realizes, a local trend becomes an international norm. If we are promoting a system (such as giving unfair economic advantage in the quantity of $25 million per year to some by endorsing athletics over academics) that is inherently unequal, there is no doubt that it has intense ramifications that many don’t even consider.

Although the money in athletics is merely an arbitrary example, there are countless such situations that we encounter on a daily basis that promote structural inequality. Our beloved capitalist economic system makes them so commonplace these days that they almost seem irrelevant. But to those who are losers in this system, by no means is this insignificant. Our nation is riddled with structural inequalities; the types of things that are indoctrinated into the population to the point where they almost go unnoticed. The thing about this type of inequality is that they have become a part of our system.

These inequalities are built into our system; it gives them life and legal legs to stand on. Some people are born with more fortune than others. But that doesn’t mean that we have to perpetuate it. I believe in a humanitarian world where those born into privilege feel an intrinsic responsibility and drive to level the playing field.

It is 2013 and we live in an extremely unequal world. I choose to believe that it doesn’t have to be this way; much of this inequity could have been overcome had this generation not been hell-bent and roguishly obsessed with self-perpetuation, relative gains and unilateral hegemonic power. It’s time to open our eyes and realize that despite the discomfort that may ensue, every day filled with indifference and apathy is another step away from the truth about the world in which we live.

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It’s time for a change, and it has to come from the bottom on up.

Geneva Mueller is a senior international relations major. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com