Will SMU and TCU Form Unions Next?
First, let me be clear, I am NOT a union kind of guy. Even though I grew up in the Chicago area, I never understood the idea of unions and the fact that my dad drove it into me that unions basically are for people that want to get paid well and work very little. Unions were not part of my life. The fact that a Chicago area school–Northwestern–has formed a union for their football team, and earlier this week, a federal labor relations board agreed they could form one, made me smile.
Not for the union itself but for the concept. That the almighty and morally suspect NCAA will have to answer questions about how they treat (or mistreat) their student-athletes is enough to make me like at least this one union. What Northwestern’s football team is trying to accomplish is to get the NCAA to take the players into consideration when they’re making the billion dollar decisions that they make. By the way, right now it only effects private NCAA institutions, and coincidentally the two major schools in the Metroplex (SMU and TCU) are both private, so this could definitely effect them. Until now, the NCAA made decisions about television contracts, rules that govern the sport, rules that govern coaches and players and alumni involvement and just about everything else, without one player having a say in any of it. What Northwestern’s players want is a voice in the process. Another interesting fact, the level of football that does less testing for helmets and head injuries isn’t high school or the NFL, it’s the NCAA. Because they’re a monopoly and they do as they please.
As a matter of fact, one of their biggest goals is to improve insurance for the players. Think about it, the player puts it all on the line in practice and games, injuries are extremely common and yet the players have no say in the insurance coverage of the players. Not unlike the NFL, the college players worry about what might happen to them when they’re done playing, what if they have head injuries that effect their lives years later. Who takes care of them? Not the NCAA.
This isn’t about the players making millions of dollars while they play college ball, but it is about giving them some pocket money. Coaches salaries are skyrocketing (Nick Saban was rumored to be offered $10 million dollars a year to coach Texas. He turned it down but Alabama still raised his pay from $5.5 million to $7 million). Should players get $500 a month? Surely the NCAA and its billion dollar TV deals has it to give, they just don’t want to. Why pay players if you don’t have to. They’ve gotten away with it for 60 years…they want to keep it going. How many Johnny Manziel jerseys did Texas A&M sell the past two years? At the very least, doesn’t Manziel own his name? Did he sign that away with his letter of intent? Should a player benefit from his jersey sales, after all he is 19,20, 21 years old—not really a kid.
The Northwestern situation is just one of several situations or lawsuits that the NCAA is currently facing and sooner rather than later they had better wake up and do something pro-active to include the players or I sincerely believe they will be shelling out big dollars to right the decades of greed that they’ve gotten away with.