I will make a comment about college football. At least I will post a link here that is worth consideration.
I used to be adamantly against the idea of paying amateur football players for playing a collegiate sport. With the off season realignment scamper for greener monetary pastures whilst throwing neighboring schools under the bus (if you don't believe me, go watch the press conference when Nebraska or Colorado announced they were leaving the Big XII and going to the Big Ten and Pac-10. Count how many times the terms like "money" and "revenue" are used), I am now reconsidering that position.
I am still not certain that paying players is the right approach for many reasons, not the least of which is a Pandora's box of entitlements that paying of players (men and women) from every sport (not just football) is going to create. Many schools simply can't afford to do it, which will create an even greater have/have not dichotomy in college sports. Most sports simply don't break even. Even within the same university, you know some sports program, say wrestling or soccer, will get axed under the guise of not being able to pay the players. That's just a mother load of problems that the NCAA is not going to be able to regulate or stop. Graft and bribery and slush fund money from agents and boosters to help pay players is another major concern.
I think the answer would be more in line with the idea of collective bargaining agreements on the college level. Why can't players within a school create a union? Let's face is, big time college football is exactly like the old coal mines that prevented unions. The coal mine owners/investors were making a fortune and treating their coal miners like slaves basically, even to the point of not paying them in US currency but in company script (something not transferable if they left the mining town). Is this not exactly what's happening in college football? Players get paid in 21st century academic script-housing, books, tuition. Not transferable, not good if they leave the program, not usually guaranteed. Coaches can technically rescind athletic scholarships for little or not reason. All the while the big universities and conferences make billions of dollars in TV and ad revenue, and the players don't make a tangible dime they can walk away with.
I think player unions would do a world of good for college sports. Players can go on strike in extreme circumstances if their coach gets fired for in house political reasons or the school decides to change conferences for the money. I think players should have a voice at the bargaining table. Personally, I think its worth a shot.
Anything has to be better than the Athletic Robber Baron system we have now.