College sports are mass entertainment. It's time to fully reward players for their work
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This week's TIME's cover story, on newsstands starting Sept. 6 and available to subscribers here, makes a case for paying college athletes. This debate has been simmering for years, but received new urgency after Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel allegedly received money for signing autographs earlier this year. The NCAA and Texas A&M determined that Manziel did not take money, but when the "scandal" broke in August, the most pressing question was: why shouldn't he? "That's crazy to me that it's not allowed," says Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who starred at Oklahoma. "Actors, actresses--these people can sign things and get paid for it. How come this kid can't? How come a kid that's at a high level, that's going to be offered a big amount of money, can't sit down and be like, 'Damn, this is my decision?'"
Change, in some form, is coming to college sports. The power football schools seem intent on at least offering a $2,000 stipend to scholarship athletes. Athletes are starting to speak up too. Chris Brunette, a senior offensive lineman who plays for Georgia, is a pro prospect. But he knows he can suffer a career-ending injury at any time. "The NFL is not promised at all," says Burnette. "For so many college athletes, at no other time in our lives will we be as valuable. To be able to capitalize on that would be great."