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From The Big Ten Network
- Four Thoughts From NU Spring Practice
"Northwestern is the lone Big Ten team that doesn’t play a spring game. Instead, the Wildcats just conduct a final practice. Hanging over the on-field goings-on on this day was the specter of NU players forming a union. . . "
- Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald Talks Unionization Efforts
The current head coach of the Northwestern Football team speaks about the efforts by some of the players to organize a union.
A Historic Election
In less than two weeks, we will know the outcome of a historic election. Football players at Northwestern University will either accept or reject a union. The decision that the players even have the right to attempt to gain union representation is historic, as it makes the statement that college athletes are employees of that university.
That premise makes sense if you accept the idea that an athletic scholarship is a contract. The student-athlete generates revenue for the school through ticket sales, etc and the school provides room, board and (allegedly) an education.
We Won't Know For Awhile
According to a ESPN.com report, the result of the player's vote will not be known until an appeal by Northwestern University is heard.
Depths Of Influence
The coach of the Northwestern Football team does not seem to support the players efforts, nor did the Big Ten Conference's television network. I can easily understand why.
It's the same reason any other company feels threatened by organizing, it threatens their power. If athletes organize and can be represented, they could request things in a contract like limits on practice, or perhaps even compensation beyond their scholarships. This could cut into television, merchandise and ticket revenue. The idea of providing some degree of insurance against injury could be a threat too. Or expose many programs as little more than minor league teams for the NFL or NBA.
The coach could easily play hardball with the young people by using playing time as an incentive or punishment. Players that seem to be backing the union could have the spots threatened, while those opposed move up the depth chart.
Of course, that coach may be acting on orders from people above him in the athletic department, who are might be taking orders from ESPN, FOX Sports, etc.
By Another Means
I personally think the players are going to reject a union. But I think that their efforts are going to lead to some sort of organization of athletes. The concerns that the Northwestern players have are valid.
Could this mark the end of the amateur student-athlete. I don't think. But this may lead in a few years to a true minor-league system for the NFL and NBA. College athletics would still exist for those who see athletics as a way forward, not a way out.
© 2014 TeaPartyCrasher