The NCAA should never have let the smart kids play football! Now the Chicago District of the National Labor Relations Board has ruled that Northwestern University football players are permitted to unionize, meaning that they are considered employees of Northwestern University. This may not seem like a big deal, but it could eventually shake the foundations of college sports, which are currently run as a monopoly controlled by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Now that Northwestern University football players are allowed to unionize, the NCAA's hypocrisy may finally be exposed.
I believe that this is the correct decision and predict that the student athletes are going to continue to kick the NCAA's butt in court.
The NCAA is currently allowed to make millions of dollars from college football, and they act like they are protecting the players' virginity by preventing them from selling their autographs, or heaven forbid someone in America might sell a t shirt or something. Why is it fair for a video game to have a player's picture on it, and make millions of dollars, and no money goes to that player, only to the NCAA?
Why is okay for the NCAA to prevent student athletes from getting summer jobs? Isn't that kind of like shaking kids down for their lunch money?
Why is it considered okay for players to get concussions, knee injuries and other potential long-term health issues? If these things happened to a coal miner, the employer would have to pay a pile of money to take care of them. But because it happens to a student athlete, it's considered okay for schools to provide medical care while they are in school. But they are allowed to just leave these players to rot when they get older. Why is that considered fair?
The NCAA argues that players are, uh, compensated by getting a free scholarship. Well look, if you agree that the scholarship is a form of compensation, then you are basically admitting that the student athletes are professionals. In that case, it becomes a discussion of what they are worth. Shouldn't it be all right to have a professional representative negotiate how much compensation they are entitled to? That's one facet of unionization.
Cartoon Credit: MacLeod Cartoons.
The NCAA argues that it is an amateur association, but in reality they make millions and millions of dollars and use it to pay salaries and make themselves rich. Players have to work very hard, and risk serious injury while they get paid nothing and yet the coach may make millions of dollars per year while wielding almost complete control over the players. Some nonprofit!
What the court has ruled is that if it barks like a dog, has four legs like a dog, sits up and begs like a dog, it probably is in fact a dog. Playing football is in fact a job and the schools can not continue to prevent players from being compensated and taken care of.
No doubt the NCAA will appeal and argue that the players should continue tobe given some sort of quasi-slave status. But I think they will lose. The NCAA is just too powerful and makes too much money to justify taking it away from student athletes.
Clearly, if the unionization decision stands, this is going to change the way that college sports are run. In the long run it will be a better deal for the student athletes. It might give an advantage to some schools which are better situated to have rich alumni and big media contracts. But overall I have no doubt that it is going to result in a fairer system, with less power concentrated in the hands of the NCAA.
Stay tuned...it will be a wild legal ride for a while.