Last week, Northwestern, a Division I university, made a bold move.
Their football players filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board to officially become a union.
Basically, these guys want to be paid employees in a multi-billion dollar industry.
It sounds a bit ridiculous at first. But, when I sit here and think it over, they have good points behind what they’re doing.
As far as I know, these players aren’t asking for NFL-size wages. No, they want full health benefits for the injuries they sustain while student-athletes.
With the recent news surrounding the NFL, and the amount of long-term brain injuries that former players have acquired from their years in the league, it makes perfect sense that these college athletes want health coverage now, when it can be diagnosed and helped.
They also want to make sure the scholarships they’re on are still going to be there if they sustain a career-ending injury, and not just kicked to the side.
So, the players that are becoming all too familiar with ACL tears and season-ending surgeries can be comforted that they can keep their scholarship if they aren’t able to continue with their athletic career.
Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter started working on this last spring, when he contacted Ramogi Huma, the president of the National College Players Association. Since then, they have been working with a large majority of the football team to become legally recognized as employees under a union.
They just want to improve the conditions they play under in the NCAA.
If the National Labor Relations Board upholds it, the players will formally be represented by the College Athletes Players Association.
This is groundbreaking. This is the start to something that could change the course of college athletics for years to come.
Here’s my deal with this whole thing. To a lot of these players, the sport they play has been their life for so long. Plenty of them have dreams of one day playing it professionally.
Now, most of them won’t, and that’s okay. But for now, they are being asked to play for a specific school. Therefore, that school should be legally obligated to take care of them if anything is to happen to them.
But for those athletes, the sport is kind of their job, and, when someone has a job, they should be paid.
Much like writing this column is my job, and I get paid to write it. Might be minimum wage but I’m getting paid to do my job, so why shouldn’t they?