I wrote that 11 months ago in response to the "NCAA Athlete as Slaves" conversation that popped up around SB Nation at the time. In my opinion then, and now, NCAA athletes' plight is not very slave-like, but is very closely associated with the turn of the century industrial era of labor exploitation.
Northwestern football player Kain Colter made the same connection I did during his class on the Modern Workplace:
As Kain Colter Prepared for his third season as Northwestern's starting quarterback last summer, he took a class at the Evansto, Ill., school called "Modern Workplace"
In it, he studied unions across history, including the current ones involved in professional sports. That's when the instructor noted, according to Colter, "I can't believe that student-athletes do not have a players union."
As a result, Colter and the football athletes at Northwestern have taken a step towards forming a Union for college football and basketball players that could allow all private school athletes the opportunity to join.
No matter how you feel on the major issues when it comes to player's rights, (namely compensation), this is an important moment for three reasons:
1) All Players United recognizes the importance of getting a seat at the decision making table. When the NCAA decides how many tickets a player can get to his own performance, how many hours a week an athlete can work or how far a player can travel on a school night to play the sport, players are not part of the decision making process. The process is ripe for exploitation, and needs to be changed.
2) The Union discussion opens a lot of uncomfortable questions, that need to be discussed. Compensation, academic dishonesty, the role of sports in academia, the subsidization of non-revenue "country club" sports, player safety, and coach abuse are all things that need to be discussed, but are often dismissed. This opens up the conversation because...
3) The movement is created by players. Everyone has their opinion on how college athletes should be treated. This is not that, this is players telling the world how they should be treated and fighting to get the treatment they feel they deserve. In an age where posting on a blog or on Facebook is considered activism, it is nice to see a group of young men put in the real work to do something to create real change.
I support the APU and hope that all athletes will educate themselves and start advocating for their own well being instead of continuing to accept the unjust system of 1906.