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Unionizing will hinder college athletes


Photo by Antonio Perez/MCT

President of the National College Players Association Ramoi Huga, left, and former college football quarterback Kain Colter, right, shake hands after Northwestern University football players sought to form a union.

Bobby Joe Magers, Opinion Writer
April 1, 2014
Filed under Opinion, Top Stories

In a groundbreaking court decision, the State of Illinois has determined the poor college athletes of Northwestern University have the right to unionize. The repercussions of this landmark outcome might change the status quo of the student athlete forever.

The organization behind the  unionization’s movement is called the College Athletes Players Association, according to ESPN writer Tom Farrey.

The move to  unionize the Northwestern football players is being led by the National College Players Association’s president and founder Ramogi Huma and former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter, Farrey said.

“College athletes generate billions of dollars per year yet lack basic protections because of NCAA rules,” according to CAPA’s website

The organization claims student athletes are sometimes left with medical bills from injuries sustained during their games, can be dropped from their scholarship if they get injured or cannot perform and scholarship money they receive doesn’t cover the costs of attendance, according to CAPA’s website.

The website also states data have shown nearly all athletic revenues from the last several decades were spent on high salaries and fine dining while denying college athletes basic protections. CAPA’S website fails to provide this data or the protections these students lack.

The rights CAPA seeks are in line with the National College Players Association.

The NCPA said its goals include guaranteeing medical coverage for injuries, minimizing brain trauma risk to college athletes and raising athletic scholarship funds, according to Farrey.

If protecting the student-athlete is the foremost motive behind CAPA hoping to unionize these kids, then more power to them.

However, it’s hard to grasp the idea that safety is their only motivation. There’s an issue with the billions of dollars the organization identifies in their mission statement.

For one, unions will want union dues. The leaders of CAPA don’t say anywhere on their website that this crusade is out of the kindness of their hearts. They too will want a piece of this billion-dollar industry.

If the student-athlete union starts negotiating with the NCAA over fees, what will happen if the NCAA doesn’t conform to the college kids’ demands?

Imagine the Final Four being cancelled after Wisconsin Badgers fans travelled to Texas because the players’ monetary expectations haven’t been met.

Second, the people that always fight to get college athletes paid never include one basic underlying fact — student athletes don’t have to accept a scholarship with free tuition, books, room and board as a compensation to play the sport they love. This overlooked fact also seems to prevent student athletes from thinking this through.

If a university starts paying athletes a salary, don’t expect the same routine of special dorms, free meal plans, per capita food payments and free books to continue.

The system will restructure itself so the payments will be in lieu of scholarship money, and in fact, the student athlete will enjoy the same stresses an average college student enjoys — how will tuition get paid, how much Ramen can be afforded and how many times a month is it safe to give plasma?

A college used to be made for an education — the stepping-stone to a successful life and in turn providing children with a way to give back to humanity.

Athletic competition is a form of entertainment and a way to allow students to show pride in their school.

After all is said and done, graduation rates, donors and the impact the university has on the community and the nation as a whole dictates whether the college is great or not.

Unionizing college athletes will not be as great a move as CAPA wants athletes to believe. The leaders will negotiate for the players — for pay — but in the long run, they’re just setting the scholarship athletes up for a miserable college experience.

A paid player will be required to pay for their education. College athletes can’t have scholarships and salaries. Students with academic sholarships don’t get paid to study so why should the athletes get paid for their practice and training? It’s called fairness.