Whether you know it or not, college athletics changed forever this week.
Northwestern University’s football players were found to be employees of the school, not merely student athletes, by the National Labor Relations Board in Chicago. This means the players now have collective bargaining rights with the school. That means the players now have a say in terms of monetary compensation for their time and effort on the football field beyond an athletic scholarship. Why is this a big deal?
The student athlete paradigm has been crumbling over the past decade. EA Sports no longer puts out it’s NCAA Football or Basketball video game franchises. Why? Because former student athletes filed multiple class action lawsuits and won (one) because they were not being royalties (residual checks) for the use of their likenesses. EA settled but the NCAA is vowing to take the case(s) to the Supreme Court. The NCAA is also saying they will take the NU case to the highest possible court/governing body. Why? Money.
The NCAA is exposing itself for what it is, a money laundering operation. They exist solely to make money off the time, energy, effort, blood, sweat, and tears of 18-21 year old men and women at Division I universities in the United States of America. They care nothing about graduation rates of the players. They care nothing about their health and medical costs. They only care about how much money they can make off of television contracts for the Bowl Championship Series and March Madness.
By exposing themselves as money hungry pigs, the NCAA is losing it’s battle in the court of public opinion. Rather than evolving and paying the students who are making NCAA and the universities billions of dollars (with a B) each year, they are trying to keep them as scholarship slaves. Scholarships are fine for athletes and universities that aren’t on national television on a daily and/or weekly basis. Scholarships are fine for academics. But NCAA Division I athletics is about money, nothing more, nothing less. If it wasn’t then ESPN and CBS wouldn’t be allowed to make anything more than enough money to cover operational costs to broadcast the sporting events.
But that’s not the way it is. It’s not 1960 anymore. Sports equals business in America. So pay the employees what they earn by destroying their bodies in the primes of their lives for the glory and admiration of their parents and peers. The times they are a changin’. You don’t want to pay students who are on national TV every week? Then;
- Take the games off national TV.
- Revoke all contracts outside of local public access.
- Force all coaches to make the same as the professors.
- Don’t allow schools to travel out of state to play away games.
- Disperse all funding equally between all sports played at each school.
Don’t want to do any of those? That list is unrealistic and naive? Yeah, no shit. So pay the players. Don’t give them straight cash homey. Pay them in gift cards so they can buy;
- plane tickets to go back home during breaks
If the students can afford these things themselves they won’t be dependent on their parents, boosters, or shady gamblers who get them into point shaving schemes. No one is saying pay the quarterback of Notre Dame $1 million a year. But how about you give the kids some money to have fun on the weekends so you can stop putting schools on probation, stripping wins, taking down banners, and expunging winning records?
Why is NU winning union rights important? It changes the face of college athletics forever. How? Because students will be looked as employees. The tide has turned on this issue. Much like gay rights and marijuana legalization, there is no going back, only forward. It is only a matter of time before all major universities are affected by this. That will affect scheduling, coaches contracts, television contracts, merchandise rights, and tuition costs. The college experience as a whole can and will be changed by this going forward. We have just witnessed the tip of the iceberg.