Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Editorial: Kolter’s plea

Northwestern University football team unionizes

College football players generate plenty of revenue for institutions across the United States. And now, for at least one university, the student athletes are one step closer to getting a piece of the pie.

The National Labor Board in Chicago granted the Northwestern University football team permission to unionize March 26, saying scholarship athletes are employees at the school and Northwestern is their employer.

The decision came after a petition led by former Northwestern Wildcats quarterback Cain Kolter argued that football players at the school work 20-50 hours a week and generate millions of dollars for the university.

While Kolter may not be far off in his assertion, with college sports generating $16 billion annually according to bloomburg.com and Northwestern’s football team producing a large portion of the $235 million the school takes in from its athletic programs, the football players are definitely getting their share.

Northwestern’s 85 scholarship football players are each awarded $75,000 a year for playing, according to theblaze.com, which is more than enough to cover the average cost of attendance per year — $63,228.

When a reporter questioned the exorbitant scholarship amount, Kolter responded by saying the football players are given the money “to play football, to perform an athletic service.”

Kolter’s petition also contained the idea that Northwestern football players should be provided with better medical coverage, especially in light of a seeming influx of concussions and other serious injuries taking place in the sport.

Although Kolter has a legitimate reason for wanting the medical care, his idea that football players are performing an “athletic service” should not be reason enough to grant the opportunity for players to unionize.

The football players’ athletic ability will last for only a few years in time in the grand scheme of things. Academics is the area in which Northwestern excels, and getting a quality education should be the main objective for any student attending school, not getting money to play a sport.

Kolter has opened the door for other schools to form unions not only in the football realm but also in other college sports. Colleges are now feeling pressure and are bracing themselves for a ripple effect to occur, as other student athletes may soon follow Northwestern football players’ example.

Schools should not be considered the employers of student athletes. They provide a service by promoting athletes’ talents on a national scale. Scholarship athletes receive more benefits than regular students, and athletes should be satisfied with what they have. Although giving more medical coverage to student athletes may be a good idea, allowing college athletes to unionize is a giant step in the wrong direction.

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