When it comes to the issue of “amateur” college athletes earning millions for everyone but themselves, the next wave has arrived. According to ESPN.com, Northwestern’s football program has commenced efforts to unionize.
The National College Players Association has filed with the National Labor Relations Board a petition on behalf the Northwestern players. The move means that at least 30 percent of the players have signed union cards.
It’s a bold move, which surely will spawn litigation over whether the players represent a legally-recognizable labor unit. If the players prevail — and if a majority of them ultimately vote in favor of unionization, Northwestern will have to bargain with the players as employees, which surely will include paying them.
Whatever transpires, the NFL Players Association supports the effort, via resolution passed by its Board of Player Representatives: “Resolved, that the NFLPA pledges its support to the National Collegiate Players Association (NCPA) and its pursuit of basic rights and protections for future NFLPA members.”
We support the effort, too. While college football players get an “education,” the wholesale cost of absorbing an extra body into the broader university mechanism pales in comparison to what the football program brings to the university. The players deserve more for the physical risks they take, and we applaud them for having the courage to pursue it.
We also encourage other players at other school to do the same.