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In today's culture, thoughtful debate is more valuable than it has ever been.  Aspiring essay writers should remember that fact.

by Ben Feuer

The debate has been raging for years now -- do college athletes have the right to demand payment for their athletic achievements?  Although we are no closer to a final answer, the debate took a sharp turn in the 'yes' direction yesterday with a key court ruling coming down in favor of the athletes' right to unionize.

As with most debates, there are strong points to be made for both sides.  Yes, the students do devote as many as fifty hours per week to their sport.  Yes, the demands of travel make it difficult to argue that the students are deriving the full value from their 'free' education.  And yes, certain teams in certain sports programs are big money earners for their universities.

On the other hand, many of the students admitted via athletic scholarships would never have had the chance to attend college without one, and many sports (and nearly all athletes) are net cash losers for universities.  Particularly in the case of private universities, is it really the government's role to place an additional financial burden upon them when many are already struggling?

The answer, as far as we are concerned, is not the point.  The point is the debate.

Arguments, in and of themselves, have real value.  That's why many schools still have essays that ask you to take a position on a controversial issue.  By doing so, you demonstrate your ability (or lack thereof) to make your point clearly and succinctly and support it with statements of fact.  This ability (AKA 'critical thinking') is not something schools take for granted, and is a valuable skill in a prospective student.

So if you know you will have to write a 'debate' essay or a 'take a side' essay in the near future, prepare yourself by formulating opinions on key issues of the day.  Marshal arguments and try to persuade those around you ... in writing, of course.  Develop a point of view -- it will help you in your life as well as in your essays.


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