As a Chicago-native, the National Labor Relations Board’s attempt to unionize Northwestern University’s scholarship football players piqued my interest more than it may have piqued others’. After a Board official ruled that the players were employees last month, the team voted Friday, April 25.
Northwestern officials strongly oppose the formation of a union and many players feel as if they would be betraying the University if they approved the proposition. Others, however, feel that unionizing would eliminate sports-related medical bills and losing scholarships to injuries.
Although it is not expected to pass, union supporters are glad Northwestern has broken the ice for potential schools to follow.
Almost the moment the story was broken, I immediately began to hear opinions regarding the proposal. These comments came from friends who attend the University, political pundits, and my family. While part of me does not want to accept a reality in which college students are literally paid to go to school, I understand some aspects of the union argument. I believe that a form of guaranteed insurance for all players, rather than unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation, and a portion of the sports department’s revenue, would be a better option.
Like many modern controversial ideas, the debate will likely fall down party lines, but I think all Americans will agree that college players deserve to be kept healthy before all else.