I understand why college athletes aren’t paid, but it doesn’t change the fact they should be.

Billions of dollars are produced through college sports each year. Through merchandise, ticket sales and television contracts, there is a lot of money floating around that doesn’t trickle down to college athletes.

The reason the NCAA will tell you is because an athlete who is paid surrenders status as an amateur and can no longer play at the collegiate level.

The closer truth is the NCAA is probably scared (and rightfully so) that there is no way to monitor what a player is receiving once they open that door.

Even if there was a maximum cap players could receive from a stipend, the fear of losing control and all out bidding system from rich boosters is a slippery slope the NCAA doesn’t want to slide. I understand the fear, but that doesn’t fix the problem.

There’s the argument that college athletes are receiving a free education and that makes sense if the athlete is there for the education. But what about the athletes who are just there to play the game until they are eligible to play at the professional level?

I used to have this argument with a colleague about Greg Oden, who left college early to play in the NBA for the Portland Trail Blazers. He signed for millions of dollars and was hurt in his first season. He missed all of his rookie season and the next two seasons before he was out of basketball completely before signing a contract with the Miami Heat.

I always hear the argument that he should’ve stayed in school and my response is the same. Why? I don’t want to take anything away from the college experience. I believe in, and support the opportunities it affords people. But, professional sport's ability is fleeting. The average basketball  player’s career last four and half years.

Oden, had he decided not to return to the NBA, had options that weren’t available to him had he been injured while in college. He can return to school as a millionaire and finish.

The NCAA makes millions marketing athletes in the farming system that is college athletics while athletes showcase their talents for free. The athletes are the ones who assume all the risk.

If a man or woman can join the military and put their lives on the line to defending our freedoms at the age of 18, then an athlete, if talented enough, should be able to market their special skills and profit from them.