With Northwestern football recently winning a landmark ruling from the National Labor Relations Board that grants scholarship football players the right to form a union as university employees, the debate has commenced about whether unionization could be good or bad for college football. Two of our writers, Zach Bigalke and Alex Brooks, have divergent opinions on the subject. You can find excerpts of both of their articles below and follow the links to read their full arguments. Once you’ve finished, vote for whether you think collective bargaining by student-athletes would be positive or negative and leave your thoughts in the comments below.
GOOD: How Unionization Can Fix College Football and Other Sports
by Zach Bigalke
While coaches are feted with country club memberships, lucrative media opportunities, and base salaries that make them the highest-paid public officials in 27 different states, athletes have seen no gains from the exponential boom in money flowing to athletic departments. One need look no further than schools ludicrously reporting violations on portion size at team banquets and the reality of grant-in-aid gaps that leave student-athletes in debt despite the “full-ride” nature of their scholarships to see how the system has been skewed against those that take the greatest risks with their bodies.
For too long there has been little if any respite for athletes looking to redress these grievances. Players have been treated like chattel by the schools they ostensibly represent. But the inequality between those who perform as athletes and the people who benefit from their toil may soon be coming to an end. The National Labor Relations Board ruled on Wednesday that football players at Northwestern University qualify as school employees under federal law and thus have the right to unionize.
The burgeoning movement, led by former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter when he was still playing for the Wildcats, has led to the creation of the College Athletes Players Association. The CAPA, now bolstered by the NLRB ruling, aims to offer greater opportunities and protections for athletes while in school. Among their goals are guaranteed coverage of sports-related medical expenses for current and former players; the creation and implementation of better procedures to reduce head injuries; and the right of players to pursue commercial sponsorships and non-sports-related opportunities. Hardly a blind attempt to take the money and run, the efforts of Northwestern players could soon force a more equitable situation for the most disenfranchised party with a stake in college athletics…. read full article here
BAD: Unionization is All About the Money
by Alex Brooks
The Northwestern football organization now has the right to form a union. All of this came about because the players want to be paid for the work that they put out every Saturday during football season. But no matter what they do, there is no way the NCAA will pay them a dime.
If they pay these Northwestern players, then the other colleges will fall in line and do the same. The NCAA would then have to pay every athlete, whether it be for football or tennis. They would also be paid the same amount, because they can’t value one sport higher than another. It wouldn’t be fair, and then the sport getting cheated would take the NCAA to court.
See where this is going? It is a slippery slope that college sports may be headed down if the Northwestern players ask for pay.
So if the Northwestern players get paid, every other college will end up having to pay their athletes. Next comes the part of how much payroll is allocated to each sport. They all have to be equal if the NCAA wants to avoid more lawsuits.
Sticking with football, does this mean that a small football school’s players, such as those at San Diego State, would make the same amount of money as a player for Alabama? We all know that Alabama’s players are better — but does that come into effect? If so, then the NCAA would have to value each player’s stock and pay each based on that valuation.
The quarterback would, for the most part, make the most money, while the guys blocking for him would make much less. I’m not sure about you, but if I were paid less than the guy I’m blocking for I would be pretty upset; I might even “miss” a defensive lineman or two.
The NCAA needs to do something about these athletes rising up to get paid. I want to get money as much as the next guy, but they are getting a free education…. read full article here