Perhaps you’ve read some of the articles, or heard about this on the news: In April, Northwestern University football players voted on whether or not to form a union. Here’s a link to one of the articles. There is a wide range of arguments and opinions on the NCAA and college sports in general. I think a detailed poll would find that many people overlap in their opinions on the various issues. I will outline what I perceive the main arguments to be and how I think they can be handled.
I am not a big union person. Yes I grew up in Arizona but that only had a minor influence on my attitudes of unions. My dad was in the plumbers union and he talked about the good the union had done. I don’t believe unions are all bad but I have seen unions lie to their workers, just like they claim the big corporations do. But this article is not about what I think of unions in general. I am pro-Youth Sports, including college sports. And I am in that group that believes that unionizing college sports would be the beginning of the end of college sports. I’m sure you can imaging what that would mean for any levels below that.
I believe that the move to unionize college sports is rooted in two things, greed and misinformation. Or perhaps more correctly, misperception. Let’s look at the general topics and break down the arguments. I do agree there are some things that can be done better. But first let’s get back to the basics – a college football player, or a college player in any other sport is a STUDENT-ATHLETE. And notice, the word STUDENT comes first. Yes I know that most of an athlete’s time is spent being the athlete, to a degree. But that doesn’t change who or what they are. They are still STUDENT-ATHLETES.
Argument 1 – Pay for Student Athletes
HELLO – you already are being paid. You are receiving tuition, books, and for some, room and board, thousands of dollars worth of EDUCATION. You are getting your education paid for. For many 100%, for many more, somewhat less. But you are being paid to play your sport. It is amazing to me that anytime you see this subject come up, how so many on the pay-for-play side overlook this important point, or they totally downplay it.
Several years ago, a girl who my daughter had played with and against in high school and travel ball, got a scholarship to a major D1 university. Her dad shared with me how her scholarship was originally 49% which meant he had to pay about $12 grand a year if I remember right. After her first week on campus, the coach called his daughter into her office and told her that he had more money and turned her scholarship into a full ride. $25,000 or more (again, I don’t remember his exact figures) for playing softball. Plus she now had the opportunity to get a college degree which we have all seen the studies that says that degree is worth thousands more in potential earnings over a lifetime.
Insurance for Student Athletes
I had never heard this until this last year, that there were examples of student athletes who had been injured playing who then had to rely on personal insurance to foot the bill. I think this could be improved but it really isn’t any worse than when you played in high school. In high school sports most schools now require that the student be covered on parents health insurance or purchase a supplemental policy through the school (Usually very cheap, about $30.). It is your choice to play sports. You are not being forced to play (unless by your parents…lol.). So just like if you choose to go sky diving, why should someone else be held responsible if you get hurt? (“Well, the colleges make so much money”….. uh huh.) I do agree that college athletics is a bigger picture so from my limited knowledge (I don’t know how much the colleges actually do help out or pay), but I would not think it unreasonable that the colleges have a “supplemental” insurance that would add to the family’s personal insurance.
Students can’t work and are starving because they aren’t allowed to work.
My response when I hear this stuff starts with a B and an S. For those of you younger than 30 that may not be aware, the reason the NCAA limits student athletes and does not allow them to work is a protection against the illegal recruiting activities that some schools did where players were paid for so-called “jobs” working for a booster’s company, yet never had to show up for work. If you are a student athlete you have enough to do with your sports and your studies. You don’t have time to work. However, as far as lunch money, if you have received a scholarship so that your parents are not footing the bill for your education, do you really expect me to believe that Mom or Dad can’t send you a few hundred dollars a month for food or fun, after they are not having to shell out thousands for your education? Sure, un huh. Next.
“But the NCAA and the Universities are getting RICH off of college athletics.”
Perhaps you might want to look at the true financial reports of just about any school’s entire sports program. Sure in many cases football and basketball bring in big money. But that program also underwrites most of the rest of the athletic program at the school. There are number of schools that don’t make very much money, even off of football. And the MILLIONS of dollars a school gets for going to a bowl game???? How much are they keeping after they divide it up with the rest of the conference (yes, that’s right, the conferences and other schools in the conference share a portion of that money) and a few other places it may not mean as much as you think. As far as the coaches who get the big bucks, many of them get the extra money from radio or tv programs, or other indirect pay. But even the ones that do get a big contract straight from the school, yes, that is another subject that goes under the topic of What Price Winning?
Lastly I will say this. NCAA are you listening? There is one area that I feel it would be appropriate to have some compensation for the STUDENT-ATHLETES. If a school has one of those superstars, say like a Peyton Manning, or Reggie Bush, etc., and said school is selling shirts, uniforms, helmets, etc. with said superstar’s name on the product, I think a royalty should be set aside in an account. And when said superstar GRADUATES from college with their degree, at that time they could receive a check for that royalty. I think marketing a player’s name should entitle that player to some compensation if products are being sold.
College sports is one place a union doesn’t belong. College sports is giving those players an opportunity to possibly step up and play pro some day. An opportunity they would probably NOT get if they did not play that college sport. They are receiving an education for FREE or for a greatly discounted price. They are in essence being paid. You know what has happened to many businesses over the years directly or indirectly because of unions. If you like your college sports, then I think you should keep it one of the places a union shouldn’t be in.