In a decision that could really shake up college sports, a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board ruled Wednesday that college football players at Northwestern University can unionize. While the school argued college athletes don’t fit into the same category of other unionized worker, the federal agency sided with the students – stating the athletes qualify as employees under federal law and, therefore, can create the nation's first college athlete's union.
If you are a regular listener, you may know Jeffy’s son Elvis was an offensive tackle at the University of Missouri from 2007 to 2012. On radio this morning, Pat, Stu, and Jeffy discussed the possibility of students unionizing and why that would spell disaster for college athletics.
“How are they employees? I mean [the school is] paying their tuition… [so] how do they work for [them],” Pat asked. “They don't work for [the school]. They have accepted an offer to come and play football there. That's not exactly a job yet. It's a job when you get to the NFL.”
As Fox News reported, College Athletes Players Association attorneys argued college football is essentially a commercial enterprise that relies on the players to generate billions of dollars in profits. That relationship, according to the CAPA, resembles that of an employer/employee.
“There's an exchange here of goods and services, right,” Stu asked. “They are getting the education. They know what they are doing. It's not as if they are told they will be paid and aren't. They know exactly what they are getting.”
Currently, the push to unionize is only occurring in private schools because the National Labor Relations Board does not have jurisdiction over public universities. This could create a real problem if some athletes begin to unionize or receive a salary while students at other schools do not.
“You could wind up with a situation where some are unionized, some are paid and some aren't. This would be a real problem. It would wind up being an absolute mess for college athletics,” Pat concluded. “If you are going to open it for everybody to unionize, it will be an ugly situation and it will change the face of college athletics as we know it. It will not be the same ever again. And it's a shame. So I, for one, hope this gets overturned.”
Front page image courtesy of the AP