Should college athletes be allowed to unionize?

tobr24u(z6 RI)April 1, 2014

Football players from Northwestern U brought the case to the regional N.L.R.B. That ruled in their favor. The players claimed that they were employes due to the many hours that they put in playing and practicing and should be allowed to negotiate as scholarships were not enough. Further, they also claim that their efforts bring in millions to the university. I am ambivalent about this matter and seek your guidance on shaping my opinion...

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rosie(Deep South, USA 7A/B)

Huh to "allowed"? Once the question of whether they are really working for the colleges, paid or unpaid, is answered honestly under the law, they should need no one's permission to organize.

Our parents didn't and refused to be stopped even when business had the government send troops to do just that.

Better question: How did we "allow" ourselves to regress to a point where this would even be posited?

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 5:37AM
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tobr24u(z6 RI)

The case is being appealed so we may not see any picket signs soon...

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 5:54AM
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jmc01

The current decision only applies to private universities and then only to revenue producing sports.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 6:01AM
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tobr24u(z6 RI)

Yes, but that is just a foot in the locker room door...

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 6:15AM
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jmc01

Because this decision is tied to revenue sports, what are the Title IX implications? Way too soon to know that answer. But it sure doesn't imply good things for the foot in the door argument.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 6:32AM
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tobr24u(z6 RI)

There are a lot of questions to be answered about unionization that should make for fascinating debates that have already started...

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 6:36AM
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rosie(Deep South, USA 7A/B)

That's a GOOD thing. This baldfaced exploitation and abuse is a national shame. I know two young people who had their athletic scholarships canceled when injuries sustained while playing meant they would no longer be able to perform.

One was, frankly, not able to hack college-level classes anyway, just being fudged through them, and is now limping around technical school on an infected knee while they wait to see if the panresistant bacteria he picked up from a dirty, infected practice mat will finally be beaten by his system or if above-knee amputation will be required. His family, BTW, couldn't afford attorney fees to take on a large university, so agreed to a final settlement of having his medical bills paid plus an additional sum that is paying for the technical school program.

We should never have tolerated it.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 6:38AM
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tobr24u(z6 RI)

It is our society that is to blame for this distortion of values when one sees the the huge salaries that coaches get compared to professors. Our values are seriously distorted in my never, ever, humble opinion...

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 6:47AM
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jmc01

Let the IRS check in as well.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 7:25AM
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october17(5chgo)

I'm all for unions. But not for students playing sports. It's a ridiculous idea.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 7:43AM
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PRO
Brushworks Spectacular Finishes(5)

Rosie,

Sports is voluntary.....and ALWAYS ego related.

I don't care if a player gets hurt playing football. It's a choice. Make the smart one and you'll be fine.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 7:51AM
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jodik_gw

I dunno... if the players are in the spotlight and making money for the college, then perhaps yes... why not allow them to group and gain fairness?

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 10:36AM
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david52 Zone 6

Have to laugh at this situation - microcosm of 'Murica today. On the one hand, college football coaches are the CEO's of the economic sector, many raking in $millions a year, in a lot of places they're the highest paid public employee in the state earning some multiple of what the Governor makes. Nobody dares question their 'value' - no sir, its not the players that make for a winning season, its the CEO who deserves all the financial benefit.

And then we have a whole vast betting system on the outcome of college football games, just like the stock market betting on companies.

And last but not least, the now-standard raucous chorus of 'boos' should anyone dare mention a vile "union" for those who actually do the work, hoping they'd get a larger slice of the huge pie.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 12:00PM
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chase_gw

This ruling was about whether they are considered employees or not. Once that determination is made they have the same right to organize OR NOT as any other employee group.

From my perspective I believe they are employees. They are compensated for delivering value to those that are compensating them and providing huge profits in the process.

On the other hand the athletes derive great personal benefit and, for the relative few destined for the pros, great training and exposure. For those not destined for the pros , in addition to an education, they get to do what they love doing with all their heart.

I think we might be surprised on how, with this ruling, both the athletes and universities will respond. I think it will be a positive thing and will not result in unionization.

Will be interesting to see how this plays out in Women's sports such as basketball......if they are all employees then does that mean men and women must be treated equally?

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 12:19PM
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blfenton

I can just see them striking for all A's, for a beer fund, for Friday nights off, for party buses to their games.

I guess it really depends on whether or not one feels that these players are in some way been exploited or not getting proper medical attention when needed or being abused (I don't mean in a Jerry Sandusky way - that's a separate issue) in some way in such a way that normal needs are not being met.

What's next - unionizing high school sports because most of these students have been coddled about their greatness and probably used/exploited to a certain extent ever since they were 10 years old when they started to show talent in a sport. In many cases it is a 'to heck with everything else' mentality including education and healthcare to get these kids into the rink/field/courts/gyms/racetrack, whatever. to have them perform.

Where and when does parental responsibility begin and end and when does student maturity come into play. Actually, I wonder at the maturity of these athletic students. How many of them do have the tools to take care of themselves.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 1:11PM
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patriciae_gw(07)

Other people in the working world don't get penalized for enjoying their jobs nor wanting to do them or working to achieve the position in the first place. I don't see why the same doesn't apply to college athletes. Notice I skipped on by whether or not they are employees. They make the money to pay the massive salaries of the multiple coaches and when they cant play they get kicked to the curb generally with no education what so ever but plenty of damage to their bodies. If I had my way there would be no ball in school at any level but since no one is going to pay attention to me at least let them organize so they can get paid.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 1:18PM
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blfenton

If they were to be paid, does that affect their amateur status and is that important or necessary? I honestly don't know.

The minion workers on wall street help to bring millions into the firms so that the CEO's can make millions in bonuses - maybe they should be unionizing as well.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 2:28PM
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david52 Zone 6

Its also worthwhile to keep in mind that there are football programs and then there are other football programs. The better ones put the emphasis on graduating student-athletes, not winning at all costs. The better schools graduate north of 90%, the worse ones less than 40%.

For the same reason, kids go to some schools solely for a chance at the NFL or NBA, not using a scholarship to get a degree.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 2:31PM
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ann_t

If they were to be paid, does that affect their amateur status and is that important or necessary? I honestly don't know.

What benefit is there from having "amateur status"? The right not to get paid?

Let college athletes form a union. They are cash cows, bringing in billions of dollars each year.

~Ann

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 3:20PM
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chase_gw

The fundamental issue ruled on is whether they are employees or not.....from that flows many other issues including unionization, pay equity, labour laws , hours worked etc.

The ruling is that they are indeed employees....and from that flows the other considerations ... the right to join a union is just one...and I suspect not the most important one.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 3:35PM
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patriciae_gw(07)

Perhaps a definition of what constitutes graduating. At my University where football in particular ruled the players had special classes open to just them. I got to deal with these guys when I worked in the graduate admissions office when they came in to sign up for graduate studies so they could teach(coach). More than a few could not fill out their own applications and yet they had a college degree.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 4:01PM
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elvis

It will be interesting to see how the appeal turns out. I think the student/players will be found to be student/players, and not employees of the school. I wonder what if any kind of agreements were signed by these individuals.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 9:07PM
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chase_gw

It matters not what agreements these kids signed.....these underage kids to boot.

Whatever that may have signed is now subject to the ruling.....that's how it works.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 9:25PM
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eibren(z6PA)

If students at universities can in some cases be considered employees, this could have broader implications, eventually affecting graduate student teaching assistants. I believe they also get a raw deal.

I do believe they may be putting their amature status at risk:

"The very broad definition of an amateur athlete is someone who competes in sports for personal satisfaction and not for monetary gain. In order to be eligible to play sports in college, you must have amateur status. This status is also a key factor in when it comes to receiving athletic scholarships. However, the exact requirements of amateur status can vary among the major associations regulating collegiate athletics (NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA) and can even vary among the divisions ..."

Here is a link that might be useful: Petersons

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 10:42PM
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blfenton

Hence my question about amateur status to which I received an unhelpful answer. If one school unionizes their players and so they are in effect professional players will the NCAA allow them to play a true amateur school? Will agents then be allowed to get involved, which they are not allowed to do now as the players are classed as amateurs, and act as representatives from the NFL, NBA, etc. Will the players be allowed to get paid and get scholarships?

Can of worms.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 1:23AM
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patriciae_gw(07)

You don't have to be unionized in order to be declared a worker bee. If the courts decide that college players are indeed employees of the school then the rest follows. You get to decide yourself if unionization is what you want. That being an organization that might or might not have your best interests at heart. It is for sure the school doesn't.
A more interesting question is would college sports survive is they had to pay the athletes wages?

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 7:55PM
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blfenton

Maybe if the school no longer provides scholarships but instead just pays the athletes - one or the other but not both - college sports programs may survive.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 8:03PM
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jmc01

This decision specifically does not and will not apply to all colleges. Most of the scenarios in this thread can not and will not happen under this one decision.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 9:32PM
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october17(5chgo)

Could be that if they join the union, they will lose their scholarships. The schools will find a way around it. There's no way it will end college football. Too much money being made.

Maybe it would mean more scholarships for academics.

Gee, wouldn't that be wonderful? People getting scholarships to a college where they are expected to actually study and learn. Nah. It won't happen. Too much money being made.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 9:39PM
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chase_gw

It it's true this decision will not affect most colleges now but it will be a wake up call for most.......

I guarantee we will see significant changes in the coming years.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 9:47PM
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jmc01

If it's true. Have at it.

Here is a link that might be useful: if it's true

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 10:19PM
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tobr24u(z6 RI)

Perhaps there should be a minor league to feed the NFL like Major League Baseball. This would allow some kids to skip the sham of being a college student...

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 5:24AM
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october17(5chgo)

I'll bet those sham college students would really like your idea tobr.

Are we being racist here?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 7:01AM
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tobr24u(z6 RI)

Racist? There will probably a majority from minority groups but it would be open to all...

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 7:07AM
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chisue

Wrong end of the telescope, but if this brings light to the issue of exploitation of student athletes, all the better.

Chicagoland has two top-rated universities. The U of C put an end to this rah-rah stuff decades ago.

My DH is an NU alum. Two years ago he attended a series of 'behind the scenes' events showcasing the athletic department. He was astounded at the enormous amount of time a student athlete must devote to his sport.

NU doesn't have 'basket weaving' courses for athletes. It graduates not just a high percentage of athletes, but athletes with meaningful degrees. The academic standards are high to get into NU and to graduate from it. Tuition is higher than many students could afford without scholarships. You aren't going to get in or graduate with only sports ability.

I think this is an excellent place to start winding down all this hoop-la that best serves professional athletic teams and gambling.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 4:05PM
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momj47(7A)

There's this

Monday night, as the Connecticut Huskies won their first championship title under the direction of coach Kevin Ollie, criticism of the U-Conn. program was still swirling. The Huskiesâ star guard, Shabazz Napier, told reporters that sometimes he goes to bed âÂÂstarvingâ because he canâÂÂt afford food. Napier was named most outstanding player after leading his team to the national title.

Now, Connecticut lawmakers are thinking about introducing legislation that would allow U-Conn. athletes to unionize. Because U-Conn. is a public school, itâÂÂs not governed by the rules of the NLRB, unlike Northwestern, which is private.

âÂÂHe says heâÂÂs going to bed hungry at a time when millions of dollars are being made off of him. ItâÂÂs obscene,â Connecticut Rep. Matthew Lesser (D) told CNN. âÂÂThis isnâÂÂt a Connecticut problem. This is an NCAA problem, and I want to make sure weâÂÂre putting pressure on them to treat athletes well.âÂÂ

And this

More college students battle hunger as education and living costs rise. It's shameful

Here is a link that might be useful: Link

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 1:20PM
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