I see that ESPN's "Outside the Lines" is reporting that football players at Northwestern are attempting to unionize. I'm not an expert on labor law, the National Labor Relations Act, or the National Labor Relations Board. It seems that the key question is whether football players should be considered employees under the Act. Here is a brief legal analysis that says they are likely to fail.
The NCAA, of course, thinks no. NCAA Chief Legal Officer Donald Remy said "student-athletes are not employees within any definition of the National Labor Relations Act." And that "their participation in college sports is voluntary." I'm not sure what "voluntary" has to do with anything. Certainly my employment is "voluntary," yet I'm still considered an employee.
Even if the "voluntary" issue is somehow relevant, how voluntary can it be for, say, the average Division I football or basketball player on a scholarship, especially at a private institution like Northwestern? If a player decided he just didn't feel like practicing one week, could he "re-volunteer" the next week and everything would be just fine?
Also this from Remy seems rather silly: "This union-backed attempt to turn student-athletes into employees undermines the purpose of college: an education." But surely many other students hold down jobs, even unionized ones, while in college.
Anyway, this brings up the whole question of whether college athletes should be paid more than they are. And I can't believe people continue to think "no" is an acceptable answer, or at least I don't find any of the arguments in favor of continuing the current system at all persuasive, although I am open to hearing them. Playing big-time, Division I college football or basketball is effectively a full-time job during the season, the colleges and universities generate millions of dollars from their programs, the NCAA and Big Conferences receive billions in TV royalties, and the coaches at the biggest schools are paid 7 figure salaries.
Why shouldn't the players be paid properly?