This past week, the Chicago district of the National Labor Relations Board ruled in favor of the Northwestern University football being able to form a union. The NCAA and universities collectively shit themselves.
This is a major step for student athletes, who I feel are largely taken advantage of. Now, I’m not an advocate of paying student athletes for their performance, I think that’s too slippery of a slope. I am a proponent though, of the NCAA taking better care of the student athletes and the athletes being allowed to profit off of their own image; neither of things currently happen. Tales of universities revoking scholarships and not paying medical bills of injured players and denying student athletes the education they were promised run rampant. The University of North Carolina is embattled in another “sham class” issue after having another brilliant essay turned in and given an “A-.”
The NCAA, an organization that is supposedly dedicated to bettering the lives of student athletes and allowing them a chance to receive an education, has become rich, bloated, and infatuated with making money off of the free labor of student athletes. They don’t pay them for performance. They don’t pay them to use their faces in commercials. They don’t pay them to do events. They. Use. Them. In 2010, the NCAA reached a TV deal with CBS and Turner Sports for a mere $11 billion for the rights to March Madness alone, and over $10 billion a year being funneled into college football TV deals, how can the NCAA not afford to provide better for student athletes?
Former Northwestern University quarterback Kain Colter’s testimony included allegations that players practice more than 40 hours a week, a clear violation of the NCAA’s 20/8 rule, which limits in-season practice time to 20 hours a week and offseason practice time to eight hours a week. Colter also added that he wasn’t able to pursue his preferred pre-med major because of football requirements. Definitely sounds like the NCAA and the university are looking out for players.
In the past, teams have meandered around that rule by having “optional” practices, which, any person who played on their high school sports team knows that “optional” actually means “if you miss this, have fun sitting the bench for the week.”
I really don’t think that players should be compensated for their performance on the field. I honestly don’t think that’s what this union movement is about, either. I believe that the players want rights. They want the right to decent healthcare, without worry that the university and the NCAA will dance around payments and have them sent to the player’s doorstep (as in 2013 when an Oklahoma basketball player’s mother received a $10,000 bill for her sons MRI). They want the right to a decent education, without the university limiting their choice of majors because of time constraints.
The biggest issue that I want to see resolved is pretty simple: cover the actual amount of a player’s year of college. Critics point out that the NCAA’s “full scholarship” actually leaves over $3,000 for the player to cover out-of-pocket. Oh, and they can’t have a part-time job, because that would take away from their sport. This little-known fact leaves player after player living below the poverty line and struggling to make ends meet.
Yes, $3,000 seems meager compared to the amount of debt that a typical student will rack up at a university. Hell, I’d love to only have to pay $3,000 a year for college, but I don’t dedicate every ounce of my free time to my sport. The NCAA has dabbled with the idea of $2,000 a year stipend for athletes, but, some simple math will deduce that $3,000-$2,000=$1,000 still not covered.
C’mon NCAA, get your shit together.
I think this Union movement will be awesome for athletes in college. I think it will make them better, safer, and more apt to succeed after sports. The NCAA and universities have become so concerned with making money off of their free laborers that they’ll do almost anything to have to fork out extra money to them. They’re too greedy.
The system in place worked extremely well back in the 1950s before the days of big advertising, sponsorships, and bowl games such as the Meinke Car Care Bowl, but today it’s an outdated system, and it has to be fixed. That’s about as simple as it can get.