Football Internships (Pay for Play Issues)

Submitted by Blazefire on September 26th, 2013 at 10:50 AM

So, while I was stiting here earlier, a thought occured, and I wanted to get everyone's take on it. The problem with the current model, as I understand it, is as follows:

1 - Athletes in revenue sports, such as Football, would like to recieve a cut of the revenue, but that would violate amatureism.

2- Athletes in revenue sports would like to pursue licencing, but that would violate amatureism.

3 - Many schools claim they cannot really afford to pay athletes beyond their scholarships,

4 - Paying some athleties will almost certianly raise Title IX issues.

So, here's a new thought. Why not STOP offering scholarships for revenue sports. Instead, make them INTERNSHIPS. Anyone enrolled at teh school, especially recruited athleties (headhunting is common in business, therefore not shady), can apply for one of a limited number of internship opportunities with the sport of their choosing.

Should they recieve the internship, they will recieve top quality training and support in an attempt to prepare them for a career in that sport. Note that NO internshiip guarntees you'll be hired into that business, so this is no different than a journalism major interning with a newspaper only to be hired as a tech writer at an auto manufacturer instead.

Because they're hiring intern employees, and not amatures, schools can set whatever compensation level they think fair. Enough to cover part or all of a scholarship? Maybe some extra.

Instead of having a number of ridiculous rules about practice time, etc, the intern/athletes will instead be bounded by worksplace rules on hours, compensation, etc, which are legally enforcable.

Now players with the skill and potential to get paid can get paid. Those a little lower can still get their college paid for. Nobody is an amature (recieving a scholarship to join a team), so licencing is fine. Nobody is violating Title IX, and the students are STILL Student-Athletes. I mean, who DIDN'T have an internship in college?



September 26th, 2013 at 11:04 AM ^

This seems much less like a solution and more like an analogy for the current situation to me. It's just a different name for the exact same system. Teams that can pay more will pay more and attract players. Nothing will change except the unique joy of college sports that stems from school pride and rivalries will be damaged even more.


September 26th, 2013 at 11:09 AM ^

It is only intended to fix a few things.

1 - Remove the sham of "amatureism" without making them pros.

2 - Remove any shred of legitimacy to the small schools' whining about the costs of paying players. Nobody can tell anyone else what it's okay to pay employees.

3 - basically tell the NCAA to go screw itself. These students aren't amature athletes. They are student-employees in a student-study program. I mean, I worked for the athletic department as a Sports Information intern in school. Nobody said I was less a student at the school.


September 26th, 2013 at 11:06 AM ^

This would sound better if it were something more along the lines of letting them have a summer internship in their sport, which is a lot closer to "real world" parallels.  Schools don't really offer internships, companies do.  FWIW, baseball players basically do this by playing in summer wood-bat leagues.

Come On Down

September 26th, 2013 at 11:07 AM ^

But the issue of how much exactly to pay student athletes is still a problem. If you pay them all a market wage some will be able to demand hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars that schools may or may not have. If it's a stipend similar to what the university pays other student employees then it is far to little to make all of the work worth their while and you still don't address the problem of boosters willing to pay far more money.


September 26th, 2013 at 11:18 AM ^

Simple, because they can't. Federal law clearly outlines what an "intern" is:

  1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment.
  2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern.
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff.
  4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded.
  5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship.
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

There's no way colleges could show 3 and 4 are being met.


September 26th, 2013 at 11:29 AM ^

Three is easy. They're working under the coaching staff, and they're not displacing anybody.

Four is harder, but colleges have been trying to convince us for years that they don't get an advantage from the sports. What's new about that?

As for six, I know we had paid interns, so I'm not sure what's up with that.


September 26th, 2013 at 12:17 PM ^

#6 means that you can't expect the federal government to back you up if you start demanding wages.  The company certainly is not prevented from providing them, but unlike with regular employees, there is no federal backup to go running to if they don't.

(There's a case in the courts right now seeking to overturn that, but that's a different discussion.)

As for the part about displacing regular employees, I think the case would be made that you can't just hire people and call them interns because you don't want to play by federal employment laws.  That's what that really means.  The courts would interpret that to mean the school is trying to circumvent the law.


September 26th, 2013 at 4:17 PM ^

MBW pretty much answered your question on three, but really, you're never going to win an argument that the players aren't "displacing employees." They are at very least a part of the product -- a major part of it. Think of it this way: would there be a football game without the players? No. Therefore, they'd be replacing employees.

Blue Mike

September 26th, 2013 at 11:56 AM ^

Actually, I think the "internship" angle fits more with the current system.  A player is being trained for a future employment in the field, doesn't affect the hiring of other employees, and is compensated for his effort both in monetary fashion (scholarship) and experience/knowldege.

I don't know about you, but every internship I had in school was basically an excuse for my empoyer to hire a college student and pay him way under-market under the guise of "building experience."  Sounds a lot like what the players are complaining about already.


French West Indian

September 26th, 2013 at 1:01 PM ^

There no way an internship would cover the cost of tuition because demand would outpace supply of these internship and inevitably you'd have desperate youngster interning for free just to get their foot in the door while taking out massive loans to cover tuition cost.  And just like internships in other fields, only kids from wealthy families would benefit because they would be most able to intern for little or no wages.

The student athletes are better off keeping the scholarships to cover their pricey tuition.

The college student-athlete model is perfectly viable and doesn't need reform.  What does need reform is professional athletics (beginning with the NFL & NBA draft age discriminations).



September 26th, 2013 at 8:42 PM ^

Students athletes are already being paid. They get tuition. At Michigan, depending on what all you're doing, that is in the upper 5-digits per year easily. On top of that, they get many things that traditional students cannot get (free tutoring, designated workout facilities, and more flexibility with their classwork).

Saying that athletes are not being paid for their sport is stupid and displays gross ignorance.

Everyone is so concerned about leveling the playing field, since when was "fairness" supposed to be a selling point. There is no fairness in life. If you are a person who wants 'fairness', then you are a worthless pos.


So to reiterate. Student athletes are already paid very well (free classes, housing, food, and a stipend).


September 26th, 2013 at 11:14 PM ^

But many people have a problem with that, because they view it as a sort of servitude. Students sign an agreement to plaqy a sport in return for their scholarship that the university CLAIMS as a certian value, but in actuallity costs them much less than that. Most people feel that the athletes should be earning something more presently tangible, and that's what this would fix without making them actual pros.

If they're smart, they'll use it to pay their tuition and it will work out exactly the same. If, however, they choose to do otherwise, they would be able to. (Not to mention this would encourage talent to stay closer to home, thereby leveling the playing field, because now, in-state tuition discounts would come into play.)


September 27th, 2013 at 1:27 AM ^

Game over. End of story. Simple as that.

Nevertheless, someone will point out that they had an internship at a company that profited off of their labor by using them as an un(der)paid employee and making them make copies instead of providing an educational experience, etc. That person has a very winnable legal case.

Comic from