Today is the day on which the Northwestern Wildcats will vote on whether they will organize a union. Interesting times in collegiate sports are afoot. While the vote today is not going to instantly transform anything, it is one step in what can be a major shake-up of the whole mess.
I would expect the Wildcats to reject the unionization. By their own admission, they’re treated pretty well there. Northwestern is the starting point, a test case, as it were, only because this effort to unionize college sports and treat players as university employees was spearheaded by former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter. Northwestern is a private school with some pretty good credentials. My thought is that so-called student-athletes there have a good thing going and won’t want to rock the boat, no matter how much Colter lobbies for his case.
Even if they do vote for the union, the NLRB decision that the players could be treated as employees is under review. Nothing happens very fast in Washington, as you well know.
But the times, they are a-changin’, as Bob Dylan would assert. College sports are big money generators, and greedy meat hooks gravitate toward big money generators. A transformation will take place, and these rumblings will become a groundswell no matter how the NWU players vote.
Certainly, the NWU model will be mimicked elsewhere, in venues more likely to go the union direction, where players are not treated as well as they are at Northwestern. Basketball mills might be an early target due to the fewer number of players and the inner city urban nature of the constituency.
Unions aside, this turkey believes that these so-called student athletes are actually university employees, and they need to be compensated for putting money in the till for their employers. They need to be reimbursed for living expenses, and paid a decent salary. Furthermore, they need to get a cut of the money they generate from product endorsements. This can be an indirect kind of thing, such as the establishment of a fund for ongoing medical expenses and living expenses for warriors injured in combat. It can’t go on the way it has gone — with the universities and the NCAA reaping all the rewards while so-called student-athletes risk life-changing injuries to generate rewards they will never see.