Health Insurance Surge
Fleecing Seniors

Athletes’ Union on the Horizon

By Jonathan B. Wight

The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that student-athletes at Northwestern can form a union

Student athletes probably spend more time per week (40-50 hours) on football than on their academics during the season.  That is equivalent to a full-time job.  Why not recognize it as such? Football

In “The Shame of College Athletics” Taylor Branch in The Atlantic (October 2011) argues that:

"College athletes are not slaves. Yet to survey the scene—corporations and universities enriching themselves on the backs of uncompensated young men, whose status as “student-athletes” deprives them of the right to due process guaranteed by the Constitution—is to catch an unmistakable whiff of the plantation.

"Perhaps a more apt metaphor is colonialism: college sports, as overseen by the NCAA, is a system imposed by well-meaning paternalists and rationalized with hoary sentiments about caring for the well-being of the colonized. But it is, nonetheless, unjust.

"The NCAA, in its zealous defense of bogus principles, sometimes destroys the dreams of innocent young athletes."

Several of my student-athletes have written term papers on this subject.  Their conclusions have generally supported the view that major changes are needed in the NCAA.

Yet to others the ruling is absurd.  Lamar Alexander stated that: “Imagine a university's basketball players striking before a Sweet 16 game demanding shorter practices, bigger dorm rooms, better food and no classes before 11 a.m. This is an absurd decision that will destroy intercollegiate athletics as we know it.”

I would say… sweet!  Let the competition begin.  The NCAA is a cartel and its monopoly practices need to be exposed and diminished. 

One solution (can’t remember where I heard this) is to let the major revenue sports be outsourced to the private sector who would pay market wages to attract talented college age youth.  Schools would sponsor teams that use their colors and play their fight song, but the players would not be required to actually be students, although they could if they meet regular admission standards.  Academic students would play club sports to develop leadership and teamwork skills.  

How would this affect disadvantaged students (who now get scholarships to attend college)?  It's hard to say.  But hopefully it would direct colleges back to their prime missions, and out of the provision of pro-level sports.


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