Should College Tennis Players Get Paid?

Should College Tennis Players Get Paid?

To put it simply, college tennis players do not get paid. The governing body for college sports, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) does not provide an option for college sportspersons and athletes to earn pay checks during their college sports careers. However, they do get athletic scholarships and stipends from their colleges and universities which help them sustain their educational and personal expenses.  

As of 30 June 2021, an interim NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) policy passed in several states ensures that college tennis players can receive compensation in exchange for licensing of the same. This rule is applicable to Division I, II and III athletes. This enables college tennis players to enter into sponsorship agreements. As of July 2021, the policy had taken shape in several states in the US. 

Earlier, in 2019, California passed a law ensuring that college athletes would be able to acquire endorsements and sponsorships while in college. It is called the Fair Pay to Play Act and it is expected to begin functioning from 1 January 2023. 

However, this does not change the fact that college tennis players do not earn salaries or pay checks exclusively for their performances. They are expected to rely on their tact and entrepreneurial skills in order to market their images and earn some extra cash. With the availability of social media and other tools, tennis players can now promote themselves and gain the attention of sports enthusiasts and people on the internet.

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Professional tennis players however can earn money through several ways. They can get paid in at least six different ways. These income sources include endorsement deals and sponsorships, appearance fees, prize money from tournaments, exhibition fees, club tennis agreements and bonuses. This leeway is not granted to tennis players at the collegiate-level. Professional tennis players, especially those who qualify to play at grand slams, can earn millions in prize money if they are ranked high. Novak Djokovic, considered by many as one of the greatest of all time, earned $159,495,978 in prize money alone in his entire career (as of November 2022). 

In terms of popularity, sports such as basketball arguably precede tennis. Players are scouted by teams from their high school through college when it comes to basketball. Tennis does not promise a professional career for athletes in colleges, making it all the more difficult for tennis players to promote their images through social media and other mediums. However, there are several professional players in tennis who have graduated from colleges in the US, such as Kevin Anderson and John Isner. 

The NCAA rakes in a great deal of money through the performances of college tennis players. This has drawn a lot of criticism and support at the same time. While some believe that college athletes must earn their fair share of the deal, some think that allowing them to earn money while at college may lead to a compromise on the academic front.

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