Coherent and relevant use of arguments is the core of expressing a solid viewpoint in a debate. However, sometimes one side can express its point of view in an unclear manner, presenting logical fallacies, which would lead to difficulties with interpreting the viewpoint. Lack of logic breaks the structure of arguments and does not give a clear perspective on a debated matter, focusing on bringing down the opponent’s allegations by all means instead. Thus, in the debate about whether college athletes should be paid or not, for and against viewpoints use irrelevant information as a backup for their stance, presenting obvious examples of fallacies as parts of their statements.
Within this debate, the pro-paying side structures all arguments around the allegations of their opponent. As they are examining the extracts from videos where the representatives of the NCAA share the details about the overall dynamics in the industry, they answer each point with a joke (LastWeekTonight). Therefore, the obvious fallacy within the expression of the pro-paying position is Appeal to Ridicule, since the side uses the audience’s laugh as a way of standing against the opponent’s viewpoint.
Throughout the video, the host expresses the opinion that paying student-athletes with scholarships could be valuable unless “they break something and lose their scholarship” (LastWeekTonight). In order to make it more ridiculous and satiric, he claims education to be a currency, which is even harder to utilize than cryptocurrency. With this comment, he hyperbolizes what was said by the opponent in order to make the arguments sound absurd. However, despite changing the perception of the opposite viewpoint, this method does not bring out decent arguments for the pro-side, making this approach inefficient, which identifies it as a fallacy.
Moreover, the logic fallacy significantly affects the core value of the debate. As the pro-side is solely focusing on ridiculing the opponent’s allegations, it leaves them no space for bringing out original arguments, which would not be based on the other side’s opinion. For example, they vividly point out that if not education or money, the athletes get a precious experience from the coaches (LastWeekTonight).
However, the pro-paying group displays a video where the coaches are being rude to their team, juxtaposing it to the earlier allegation and satirically implying that there is nothing profitable for student-athletes in this experience. The statement serves more as a joke to appeal to the audience rather than to have a valuable impact on the discussion. It leads to the conclusion that this kind of method is not solid enough to contribute to the point, which means that this fallacy breaks the relevance of the presented arguments.
Viewpoint Against Paying
Regarding the side which is against paying student-athletes, they claim to be solely focusing on the athletes’’ profits. Therefore, they present a lot of data covering the topic of possible income in both cases of receiving a scholarship or a salary and thoroughly calculate the fees and possible reductions. At the same time, they do not specify the exact context within which they are operating, letting the reader follow their assumptions and predictions.
The against side is starting its arguments with the words “let’s assume that salaries replace scholarships” (Thelin), setting the direction of uncertainty and accepting only one unfolding of the situation as a case study. Later on, they list Ivy League universities and then shift the perspective to coaches from Michigan, misleading the overall perception of the situation. This way, they are using irrelevant facts, which could distract and lead to the conclusion that they are implying, which is a logical fallacy, Red Herring.
Despite shifting the perspective and bringing out random variables at different times, it does not completely ruin the coherence of their arguments. They change the narrative a few times, as they start with the coaches’ perspective, then talk about student-athletes profits, and suddenly move to the athletics department. Additionally, when they say that “players and their families often overestimate a player’s market worth” (Thelin), they use it as an argument against salaries. However, they choose not to mention the instability of potential scholarships, making the overview of beginner athletes’ situation look one-sided.
Even though the against side shuffles the facts it is operating with and brings them out despite the irrelevance in certain parts; they still succeed in stating their original arguments, unlike the pro side. Supporters of this opinion are handling the debate by making the original idea seem trustworthy, providing the factors of different relevance to the matter. Although the solidity of stated arguments is deeply questioned, this side manages to present a decent coherence within its allegations, which shows that, in this case, the fallacy does not necessarily ruin the main point.
In the end, logical fallacies always differ depending on how intensely they are displayed within the arguments. While they undeniably affect the relevance of presented statements and might ruin the main point from the beginning, it is also possible that they do not contradict the coherency of the allegations. However, as long as the fallacies are traceable within the viewpoints of a debate, each side’s arguments will not be solid enough due to the false presentation of information.
LastWeekTonight. “The NCAA: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)” Youtube, Web.
Thelin, John R., “Here’s Why We Shouldn’t Pay College Athletes,” Money, 2016.