Unionizing College Sports

In light of the NLRB’s ruling that Northwestern football players can join a union, I have a number of questions and concerns.

How many other college semipro sports will unionize?  Will athletic departments survive the costs of unionization?  Will ticket sales?

What will the NLRB’s ruling do vis-à-vis Title IX?

How will the vast majority of college and university programs that don’t make money from their athletic departments will survive?  How will those programs within athletic departments that don’t make money survive–will the “football” union be willing to subsidize them?  Even were they willing, will they have the money to do so for all?

Will academic students now be forced to pay union dues, since they “benefit” from the “football” union’s…bargaining?  Will other student athletes in other sports?

Unionized semi-pro athletes who happen to attend college represent a fertile training ground for future union membership.  This ruling sets up that farm system.

And as The Wall Street Journal cites NLRB’s Peter Sung Ohr [emphasis added]:

[C]ollege players aren’t student athletes who get an academic scholarship in return for competing in a sport. They are “employees” and thus eligible to have a union collectively bargain with their university employer.  Mr Ohr explains that college players spend 40-50 hours a week at their sport during the season, often more than on class work, and that they are essentially paid for their work via a scholarship that covers tuition, fees and room and board worth about $61,000 a year.

Not a trace of irony there.  No, Sir.

The WSJ added this parting point:

Don’t look for the football players to give up their gourmet training tables in solidarity with the geeks majoring in pre-med.

Be all right with me if colleges shut down their athletic programs, converted them all to IMs, converted existing athletic scholarships to academic scholarships of the same value, and stopped offering athletic scholarships altogether.  Put the “student” back in “student athlete.”

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