Unionizing college football and basketball makes as much sense as NFL and NBA
player associations. We know that college football and basketball conferences
are the "minor leagues" for their respective sports, on behalf of the
NFL and NBA. Because of this college athletes, particularly in these two
sports, put their efforts first and foremost into their sports. Yes about half
of them get degrees, but usually in weak academic programs (with the exception
of Alex Smith - there are always exceptions). College football
players and basketball players take enormous risks with their physical
well-being. Most of them never go pro. Many are left with lifetime injuries
for which there is no compensation.Unions make sense for college
I can't resist pointing out the top heavy distribution of income which
prevails in college football and basketball. Athletic directors and coaching
staff often draw multi-million dollar salaries. Whereas the players
"make" almost nothing - a weak college degree if on scholarship, some
free food, and access to the intercollegiate weight room. College
football and basketball players need unions for the same of the reasons labor in
general needs them - to restore some sanity to the distributions of wealth and
income. But with the athletes they need to negotiate protections against
permanent injury - like NFL players are getting belatedly.
It is time to abolish all sports at the university level. At least sport
organized by the university. Eliminate all scholarships, remove all coaches,
stop spending money on all sports. My understanding is that while some programs
bring money into the university, on whole they are losing propositions. At a
time when tuition is being increased faster than inflation, it is time to cut
costs. Remove the distraction of sports and concentrate on the purpose of the
If collages and universities have "long exploited athletes" then image
how long adjunct professors have been exploited and denied FT benefits, career
incentives such as an office, phone, and other scholarly resources not mention
equal pay. The average adjunct because of new IRS rulings concerning Obamacare
are required to teach less than 30 hours per week or one class per semester or
be considered FT with benefits. This means that and adjunct who normally earned
$40,000 teaching 4 classes at the same school now has to teach four classes at
four different schools just to break even. While there has been a recent push to
unionize adjuncts, most institutions are resistant to this change. Also If
football players can be unionized, what about swimmers, tennis, gymnastics and
dance students who also compete? While athletes are required to bring certain
abilities and skills to their job, what about adjuncts many with PhDs. Should
they not have the same protection of a union?
The NCAA "March Madness" event generates close to one BILLION DOLLARS
in television revenue. The college football playoffs will generates around HALF
A BILLION DOLLARS, and Kyle Wittingham is the highest paid Utah State employee
with an income package of about $700,000/year.Someone is making a
lot of money off college athletics. Shouldn't college athletes be able to
negotiate to get their slice of the pie? Since when has the
capitalist, free market, Deseret News editorial board decided to come out in
favor of restraint of free trade?
Not all college athletes are being "exploited". But, certainly there
are some that are putting lots of money in the school coffers.That
is why college coaches are making so much money. The top 70 highest
paid college football coaches make over $1 million per year. The top 35 college
basketball coaches make over $1 million.I dont know if unionizing is
the answer, but the top athletes are generating far more revenue than they
receive in educational benefits.
The fact that this newspaper is owned by the same church that owns BYU,
who's football program brings in literally millions of dollars every year
to the school, should disqualify you from providing an opinion or at least label
it properly as propaganda. While I do not have an answer right now for the
problem of what to do with student athletes, I do not think it is appropriate
for the schools to be exploiting football players the way they do. How many
sprinters can die from their sport? Or get paralyzed or just have a lifetime
injury? Why should the coaches and the school make millions off the efforts and
risk of these kids? Just pay them so they can afford the school and then take
away their scholarships. This would probably go along way to helping them learn
to manage their money long before they get out into the real word where everyone
will continue to exploit them.
There is Right and there is Wrong.There is Right and there is Left.Then there are those who can not tell the difference, and
entertwine the 2 constantly.The Deseret News seems to fall into that
I can argue both sides. Both have a good case. Students who work in
concessions or clean the stadiums get paid... why shouldn't the athletes.
Students who work in food services or as a teacher's aid get paid by the
University... why shouldn't athletes. But athletes get a free education
and media attention for playing for the school (which other college employees
don't get).I think if we pay athletes it will just end or
severely limit athletics at small schools. All schools can't afford to pay
their players what Universities with wealthy donors like USC can pay their
players. USC (and a few other schools) would eventually become the LA Lakers
of college athletics (attracting all the best players). We already have this
to an extent, but add the ability to use MONEY to attract players to your
school... and it would just get worse.I say if athletes get paid to
play... they should not be given scholarships (just money) and they pay tuition
(like other students). They could use the money they get paid to work for the
college to pay their tuition (like other student employees do).
@ Dr. Thom, adjuncts can unionize. They did at George Washington University and
the results have been positive - not enough, but positive.
They shouldn't unionize only because there shouldn't be all that money
in so called amateur athletics. In reality, the money is there, and chances are
pretty good the players will be left out of the gravy unless they unionize. So
maybe you should be calling for a return to truly amateur athleticism at the
college level, maybe with a corollary of increasing our entire societal focus on
the academic pursuits of college.
For colleges not competing the top tier, the concept that the student athletes
get much in trade for their playing is true. In top level programs, the schools
and coaches make millions. Few athletes graduate, those who do often have a
pitiful education despite any degree, and many get injured.The
concept that college play enhances the athlete's pro careers is exactly the
point. Top level programs function like the minor leagues. Careers can get
made playing in the minors. But they can also end there due to injuries.Should the athletes be paid? Not sure. But should they at least get a
seat at the table when their careers are on the line? Yes.Colleges
that don't like this should go back to competing a lower levels where
student athletes have no realistic shot at the pros and value instead the
scholarship provided. The college gets true student athletes, the athlete gets
a real (and completed) education, the coaches don't make millions so the
president of the college can still control them.
What's next?For the "owners" of these teams to use
extortion, and pull moving trucks up in the middle of the night and up and move the entire athletic program to more expensive cities or
Universities, who promise to build them bigger and newer stadiums?Sports -- Pathetic.Let the Teams Unionize.It's
the only way to keep the "owners" in check.
Its' all about CONTROL. The NCAA and the universities have it and
don't want to give it up willingly.IF the NCAA didn't have
a multi-billion dollar revenue stream, and IF the universities didn't pay
their coaching staffs 6 and 7 figure incomes - I'd say the players are
lucky to get a free college education.But thats' NOT the
case.Let the colleges and universities bid on the athletes just like
the pros. Some may decide to end their programs altogether, but there's
not much of a downside to that either.Don't we fund colleges and
universites for education anyway, or do we?
Here's the problem... how far does the union reach go? Does every
school's athletes end up unionizing? This would start eliminating sports
programs entirely from Division II and III schools and could seriously
jeopardize many non-football/basketball programs at Division I schools.
The NLRB has stepped way over its authority. The colleges and universities that
have sports programs run on NCAA rules and regulations. The NCAA is allowed to
monopolize the control of these sports programs through Congressional
authorization. The first 'A' in NCAA stands for amateur, which in this
case means that they are not there to be employees, but rather students that
have their education paid for as long as they comply with NCAA rules. They are
not there to be employees. Along comes the NLRB, who is pushing every avenue
they can dream up to unionize everything and everyone. In this instance, the
NLRB has totally ignored the NCAA laws and rules, which bans unionization of
student athletes, and decided they can trump Congressional laws. The NLRB does
not have any legal authority through labor laws that trump NCAA laws and rules.
The NLRB decision will not stand, they have, once again, overstepped their
@liberal larry Whittingham's salary is just north of two million dollars
Unionizing college sports or paying athletes beyond what they already are paid
in scholarship is going to have a lot of negative effects. Only a few teams
break even with the cost of running athletics and that would mean lost
opportunity.First, all the women's programs will no longer be
available. There are not enough women programs that are financially viable or
self-sustaining around the US to run a league. Gone. Second, all the other
sports besides men BBall and FBall will also be gone because they don't
make money. Basketball won't be as hard hit as football under the change
as there will be fewer 'employees' to pay. Football will lose big
time. Most FBS programs do not make money currently. Only BYU did in 2012 for
our state. Utah and USU lost money. Most of the programs will have to drop
football if they had to pay people to practice and play because the cost of
doing so may finally sink the schools that have programs. No more walk-ons,
three-fourths of the programs will be gone and kids lose out on a dream.
@ liberal Larry Check the freedom of information disclosure for state paid
employees and you will find that Wittingham's salary is not even in the top
The discussion of Whittingham's salary is irrelevant. Whittingham is a
public sector employee at a public university. If Utah's football players
were getting paid, they would also be public sector employees. By law, public
sector employees cannot unionize.Northwestern University is a
private institution, hence the reason they were allowed to unionize by the
courts. Thus the only universities in Utah that could be affected by this
ruling are Westminster and BYU.
I am torn. One part of me says that this shouldn't happen. The other part
of me says why not? I disagree schools should pay players. If players are good
enough to go get endorsements, then schools should have no right to say no they
cant. Its sad but the whole world is run by money and not morals. Money in the
end will win in this situation. And we will be having a whole new set of issues
once these 18 yr olds are making buckets of cash.
If we expect every sport to produce a revenue stream that pays for all that
sport's expenses... all but football and basketball would go away (even at
big colleges).How many people would pay big bucks to see a college
track meet. Or a swim meet. Or girls lacrosse? Those programs would be
gone.Fact is... Football and Basketball bring in millions and pay
for the rest of the sports programs at most schools.
The editorial while minimizes the problem while discounting a solution. There is
a problem.I was a college athlete. My friends were scholarshipped
athletes.At BYU, pressure to win trumped grades and academics.
Athletes were signed up for dumbed down "athlete classes." The
academically ambitions spoke with a counselor before "opting out."A friend's career ended in a catastrophic knee injury against a PAC
10 opponent. BYU grossed over $1,000,000 dollars that night. BYU paid the
initial surgery and rehab. Then my friend lost his scholarship. His parents paid
for his senior year. He's had three surgeries on the same knee, and another
on his hand since graduation.An acquaintance played through injuries
while at BYU. He thought he was going pro. He didn't. Nor did he graduate.
He is divorced and has twice been to rehab for addiction to painkillers. BYU did
not pay that bill. BYU should.Perhaps unionizing is extreme. But
they are exploited. The NCAA can and should levy an income tax on schools, the
proceeds going toward "workers comp" type claims. This would bring the
schools' priorities in line with that of their "student athlete."
Leave it to the DN to be a shill for management.
Unionizing college athletes unnecessarily introduces an adversarial relationship
between the students and the school. The relationship between them has been,
and should continue to be harmonious, since each derives a substantial benefit
from the arrangement. Student athletes get use of the schools facilities and
direction from coaches and trainers who prepare them to compete at a higher
level, while the school uses their talents to promote the mission of the school
and elevate its visibility. The status quo, while not perfect, is more equal
than some people realize.While an overhaul of NCAA rules is long
overdue, nobody wins with unionizing. There are too many unintended consequences
down that path.
If people knew the truth about college sports--that their child's tuition
goes to SUBSIDIZE these overgrown athletes--they would rise up and tear down the
goalposts, but not for the typical reason.
I am tired of hearing about about the "poor players or student
athletes", they knew going in what the deal was.... they are getting a paid
for education due to their athletic skill, that's it. They are not forced
to do so. Its kind of like getting a job, then complaining you don't make
enough money... except it IS NOT a job at this point for them.I am all for
letting them make money by endorsements etc, and even increasing their stipend
so they have a little date money etc, but that's it.If they want to
be employees, are they willing to be fired for poor performance?If they
want to be employees, are they ready to pay taxes?Do any Utah school
athletes think they should be paid the same as Alabama athletes?Are the
they ready to pay for their own room, board, tuition, fees, books, tutors
etc?They have it pretty dang good compared to student who PAY to go to
Most NCAA student athletes don't go pro in any sport.Less than
1% actually make a profession out of the sport they played in College. So
let's try viewing it from that real perspective. Some pretend it's
all just a farm leage for the NFL... but it's not just about football, and
even most people who play football in college don't play football after
college. So let's not pretend it would be best to turn college sports into
a semi-pro leage.I think doing that would lessen the chances of a
kid getting an education with an athletic scholarship (because most schools
would end athletics, and the ones who keep it would only accept those who have
pro-potential).Most kids playing college sports don't have
pro-potential. Just a few do.
It probably creates more problems than it solves. Formally monitizing collegiate
sports will lead to an even larger disparity among universities that is not
based on academic values. The big money conferences have long ago dropped any
pretense of academic values or standards for athletics other than a reduced
version of the NFL combine.
Re: Smart Aleck "Unionizing college athletes unnecessarily introduces an
adversarial relationship between the students and the school. " This is an
interesting statement.It mirrors the myth in society that management
(capital) and labor are one in purpose. They aren't. Their relationship
is in large part adversarial, as is the relationship between college athletes
and their schools. The NLRB ruled college athletes are employees lest the
Deseret News forget. So they can unionize. AND the suggestion herein that they
get workers' comp is an excellent idea.
Oh I see...The Deseret News feels that Corporations are
"people" banding together to have a common voice and opinion, and
also agrees that they should have unlimited access to Government officials via
Free Speech and un-limited campaign contributions = GOODandthat College atheltes trying to band together to have a common voice = BAD.Why can I see this, and the newspaper can not?
@ Fitz"The first 'A' in NCAA stands for
amateur,"Except that the first 'A' stands for
Athletics, as in "National Collegiate ATHLETIC Association".
@LDS Liberal,Really... you're going to play "Politics" with
even this?You really have a one-track-mind. And it's politics
all the time... no matter what.We can play political games with
this, but it gets us nowhere but the usual rhetoric-ville.I think
expressing your opinion on the subject itself would suffice. You don't
have to take any political shots at anybody. We're not keeping score
here...What do you actually think (yourself) about paying college
players to play? Politics asside... You like it? Or you don't? And
try not to let your politics be your guide. Just what do you want to see
happen (all rhetoric asside)?
Mark has the right idea. Universities should concentrate on scholastics and
forget the NCAA. BYU-Idaho has the right idea. Intermural athletics for all.
Kentucky provides the best case for abolishing College sports. Watch the game
tonight and you see Rick Piteno start 5 freshmen who won't be back next
year and probably won't even finish their freshman year in college. Minor
leagues beyond the D league are the answer.
2 bitsCottonwood Heights, UTI'm against paying players to
play.BUT, That's not the issue.The issue is
being allowed to Unionize.The United States Constitution explicitly
provides for 'the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to
petition the Government for a redress of grievances' in the First
Amendment.I'm just tired of Conservatives - anti-Unionists -
trampling the Constitution.and that's when it turns political.
Animals of the prey specie should not be allowed to form herds.
Random thoughts...Who generates the income, the athletes or the
schools? Lot's of "star" college athletes don't make it in
the pros. Why don't they form their own teams and play each other?
It's the logo and the brand (at both the college and pro level) that
generates the vast majority of the income.Olympic rules re
amateurism went through a significant change in recent years allowing athletes
to still compete while being able to profit off of their likeness and notariety.
Might be worth emulating some of those rules. Wouldn't be a need for a
school to pay most athletes if the athletes could profit from their
"fame."Finally...nothing can change without managing within
the constraints of Title IX. Schools have to run (and finance) entire athletic
programs, not just football and basketball teams. Any change has to be broad
enough to encompass all, not a select few.
You have to love their spirit. They are fighting for what they think is right.
Good for them...
Everyone in college athletics makes money but the ones pulling most of the load.
They are clearly exploited and have always been exploited. The idea of
"amateur" sports is there only to perpetuate the exploitation.
Completely agree with this op-ed and with Ifel and Jarvis.Unionization of
college students is absurd. Calling students "employees" is really a
stretch. However, I agree with the concept of providing some type of a long
term insurance as a "workman's comp."Paying college
football players creates far more problems than it resolves, and those on the
band wagon of paying football players are being extremely short-sighted. This
will force most schools to abandon athletics altogether, and even the biggest
schools would be forced to drop all but basketball and football.
@Mark from Montana: one clarification. BYUs athletic dept finances are
maintained entirely independent of school/LDS church funding. They get ALL
their money from revenue generated + donor contributions. There is no money
coming from regular student tuition or other sources. I'm amazed more Utah
journalists do not write about--and it's significant in a world where there
is concern about whether monies paid by students should be given to athletic
programs.Unless college athletics truly returns to an amateur
status, there needs to be funding for the students. They are targeted toward
"easier" degrees, so their education provides them little future
opportunity once college is over (with some exceptions); they have no insurance
or other compensation to aid them with chronic and now "pre-existing"
conditions suffered in job-related injuries; they receive, outside the
compensation of tuition, a stipend which for most does not cover typical
expenses of a college student, so most are left with being FT students, FT
employees of the athletic department, and then FT workers to earn living wages,
unless they're lucky enough to have their parents financial support. They
deserve opportunity to bargain for workplace rights, as do all Americans.