Marcus Ranum sent me this link to the news item that a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board ruled that college football players are like employees and should be treated as such and have union rights. As Marketplace reports:
[Peter Sung Ohr, the regional director of the National Labor Relations Board in Chicago] gave the rationale that the players are employees because they receive compensation in the form of scholarships. He said the players are subject to the employer’s control in their performance, which directly benefits the university.
This is consistent with the history of the NCAA, which didn’t start paying players until the 1940s, according to sports economists.
“At the beginning of the NCAA, in 1905, they stipulated no scholarships at all because scholarships were a form of compensation,” said Andrew Zimbalist at Smith College.
Zimbalist said that the ruling only applies to private colleges, so it doesn’t apply for the majority of schools in the highest levels of college football, since most of those institutions are state universities.
Zimbalist said that if the players at Northwestern do unionize, then the NCAA will disqualify them on the grounds that college athletics are amateur. However, he said the possibility of unionization comes with other benefits.
“Say they want a cost of living adjustment or they want to have catastrophic injury insurance for those players who are injured and can’t go on to play in the pros,” said Zimbalist. “Then they could stay within the NCAA rules and presumably they could then trigger other universities that are private to unionize and asks for the same thing.”
This ruling has huge consequences for the exploitative business that is now college football and is bound to be appealed to the highest levels since football is a cash cow for a few colleges and the NCAA.
I have argued that colleges and high schools should not field football teams because students risk permanent harm to their bodies and brains by playing, with colleges serving as essentially free farm teams for the NFL.
Maybe treating college football like a business would help its demise.