The discussion on collegiate athletes and the benefits they receive has been going on since the popularization of college sports. Wether they are students that receive the benefits of a free college education or athletes that do not receive enough benefits and are exploited by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. However, now one college athletic program has taken this argument to court in an attempt to unionize.
The Northwestern football team appeared in front of the National Labor Relations Board on Tuesday in order to argue for the unionization of their team. Although it is a long shot, and even if they succeed it could be years before legislation changes are made. Similarly to professional sports unions like the NFL PLayer’s Association, should Northwester win, a union would allow players to negotiate various things like medical benefits, stipends, and of course a portion of that multi billion dollar revenue the NCAA brings in each year.
If the Northwestern football team can make any noise during these legal talks this could change the landscape of college sports. However, it would not be for all college sports programs, only the most popular ones like football and basketball. In addition, the players would still be affiliated with their universities but would likely receive more benefits than a scholarship. Although the NCAA reaps the benefits of college players, this option of unionization will create more problems than it will solve. Although they are considered adults on the field, these are still college students just out of high school. Arguments between professional players who’s livelihood depends on the sport have resulted in lockouts, what would we see from 21 year-old kids who do not depends on the game for a paycheck.
The best part about college sports is the college factor. It gives the rest of the student body at the school a reason to be proud of they university.Without the students and fans who support their schools college athletics would be insignificant. As a college student, the thought of waking up in fall and not being able to attend a football game because the players are arguing for money is absurd and disappointing. Although I agree that college athletes deserve benefits beyond the scope of a free ‘education,’ especially in injury riddled sports like football, a unionization of college athletics gives negotiation powers to students who do not necessarily understand the gravity of the situation.