The Writearound: Unionizing student-thletes

Nate Joseph: I believe that it is the right thing to do. The NCAA is making money off of all of these athletes without paying them and for the amount of pressure they have on them to succeed, they should be paid.Jamie Levine: I agree with Nate in thinking that it’s the right thing to try and do, but I have a hard time believing that anything is going to come of it. For the players to successfully form a union, they need to prove that they are employees, not student-athletes, which is a tall order. Dan Mirabile: It is important to note that the student-athletes are not looking for working wages per se, but instead have a specific agenda. They are concerned with the present conditions and want some things to change. For example, they want to minimize the risk of head injuries, increase the scholarship amount and avoid having to pay their own medical bills for sports-related injuries. These are certainly noble causes, but perhaps unionizing isn’t the right way to go about it. Joe Leathersich: I agree with everything said thus far. Quarterback Kain Colter is leading the pack against the NCAA, but I would be willing to bet that if you asked him, the issue isn’t as much about the players unionizing as it is about getting their voices heard. The student-athletes are the product, and yet they have zero say in anything as far as monetary gains, rule changes, etc. The NCAA should be a more transparent entity and include the students more. DM: Joe hit the nail on the head. The NCAA needs to be more transparent and right now they do not look very good in the court of public opinion. They have failed to recognize what the students are trying to accomplish and instead are fighting hard to prevent the movement from gaining any more momentum, stating that, “There is no right to organize student-athletes.” NJ: I agree with you Dan that the NCAA doesn’t understand what the students really want. The students aren’t necessarily asking to be paid. They want health coverage so they don’t have to pay for injuries related to football. And for the NCAA to say that they are “volunteer student- athletes” is complete garbage. The players generate billions of dollars for college football, and without them, the NCAA would lose almost all of their money. There is an insane amount of money in college football – they can afford to meet the players’ demands. Jamie: You mentioned something that interests me, Nate: The other sports. If the NCAA were to allow the football players to form a union, that would set a precedent for all other NCAA sports in the future. I’m not saying that women’s [Division I] bowling is going to go out and form a union, but I can see why the NCAA doesn’t even want to open this can of worms. If every sport were to unionize, it would end up costing the NCAA a lot of revenue. DM: Actually, the current effort to create a union is not just for football. The union, if formed, would be called the College Athletes Players Association and would represent the interests of all college athletes. With that being said, it certainly would be costly for the NCAA to meet the needs of every college athlete. Still, the students have raised legitimate concerns, and I do not think it is unreasonable for the NCAA to take a hard look at the present issues laid before them.u