You raise a bunch of good points. First off, yes, football players are way more fucked than basketball players. And I probably am selling short the overseas experience. Certainly there’s money there to be made and whether or not an athlete feels disappointment over not making the NBA is a case-by-case, individual thing. I know of guys who are single-mindedly focused on trying to crack the NBA, even once it’s wholly unrealistic. At the other end of the spectrum, you have lesser talents who are just happy to get to play ball for a living before starting the rest of their lives. There’s also a lot of middle ground there (and room for ambivalence) and as you point out, a slew of basketball-related opportunities in the States. So I probably overdid it there.
As for athlete compensation, you’re absolutely right, it shouldn’t be the same across the board. It should be a function of how much money that sport makes for the school, certainly, and then more subjectively, how important a player is to that earning power. Just thinking out loud here but maybe that takes account jerseys sales or tacks that on as a bonus? It gets tricky when you start thinking about one-and-dones getting someone to negotiate a deal for them with a school. Then again, if we accept that these athletes are going pro, why not go ahead and let them get the right kind of guidance? If paying college athletes ever comes to fruition, then they should be allowed to treat the relationship with the school like one would any other business negotation.