Members of the Wildcat football team at Northwestern University have filed a representation petition with the Regional Office of the National Labor Relations Board in Chicago, seeking a Labor Board-conducted election to determine whether a majority of the players want to be represented by a union for purposes of collective bargaining. This week, a Labor Board hearing officer is receiving the evidence the Labor Board will need to determine whether it should proceed with the case. While this is a unique situation regarding college athletes, a representation proceeding is a common practice, occurring more than a thousand times a year.
The news media have focused on the Northwestern petition because of its potential implications for college sports. Some commentators portray the case as collegiate Armageddon. Our nation’s college campuses would be polluted by millionaire college athletes. The football team could even strike! The results of this, we are told, would be disastrous for universities and for the sporting public.
Many folks can understand the raw deal college athletes receive when the NCAA cartel caps their compensation to tuition, books, room, board and a small stipend. College athletics produce millions in revenue for their colleges, but the stars of the game cannot receive compensation commensurate with their contribution to the entertainment they provide. It is a sweet deal for colleges.