If you try to use a sledgehammer to crack a nut you with both make a mess and assure you go hungry. That's what "unionization" for scholarship Athletes would mean to College sports. Wholesale organization as a means to fix the legitimate issues faced by Athletes going to college for free is a disproportionate expense of effort to overcome manageble issues.
In regards to the social media push for a players Union Northwestern put together this very well formed release
We love and are proud of our students. Northwestern teaches them to be leaders and independent thinkers who will make a positive impact on their communities, the nation and the world. Today’s action demonstrates that they are doing so.
Northwestern University always has been, and continues to be, committed to the health, safety and academic success of all of its students, including its student-athletes. The concerns regarding the long-term health impacts of playing intercollegiate sports, providing academic support and opportunities for student-athletes are being discussed currently at the national level, and we agree that they should have a prominent voice in those discussions.
We are pleased to note that the Northwestern students involved in this effort emphasized that they are not unhappy with the University, the football program or their treatment here, but are raising the concerns because of the importance of these issues nationally.
Northwestern believes that our student-athletes are not employees and collective bargaining is therefore not the appropriate method to address these concerns. However, we agree that the health and academic issues being raised by our student-athletes and others are important ones that deserve further consideration. -- Jim Phillips, Northwestern University Vice President for Athletics and Recreation
I come from a union home. My Grand father worked the rail yards in Buffalo and my father the Steel mills of Lackawana. I am proud and grateful for what Unions did to transform the workplace during the 20th century. To be sure there is still a necessary role for unions in the 21st, it's just not in College Athletic Departments.
It is border line insulting to compare the plight of a college athlete to the folks who died working along my grandfather for a pittance and little time off. His generation recognized the need for a safe workplace and time to spend with their family.
My experience in college was working more than three jobs to cover what little I could while taking out loans to cover the rest, loans I was paying back well into my 30's. Working as a stack page in the Library, a desktop support person in Capen Hall, a tutor, a classroom lab assistant, and on the side a vendor at parades was not as glorious as playing sports but it certainly consumed almost every hour I had which was not in the classroom or in the books.
College is hard... On everyone!
Are there issues that require immediate attention from the NCAA regarding the treatment of players? Hell yes there are and there are far more subtle, quick, and effective ways to do it.
You don't need a union to force the NCAA's hand on these issues. Colleges are practically tripping over themselves trying to pay out stipends. Everything from tickets, to practice hours, to injuries, to academic dishonesty can be handled if the players banded together to get representation in the NCAA on par with AD's and you don't need a union for that.
Why am I worried about a union?
First off the players are not by any legal definitions employees of the school, just like scholarship musicians or other area are not. A stipend does not make you an employee and there is ample history of this in universities.
Secondly while I think Unions are critical I believe that they can go too far. Before Hostess went bankrupt a clause in their union contract forbade one truck from delivering both bread and pastries to the same store. My father once told me if I crossed a picket line at city hall to pay a bill I deserved to get knocked out. Today he thinks the Unions themselves are as bad as the corporations. And my old man is right, many union bosses are getting rich and having swanky meetings in Las Vegas instead of living on what workers get and meeting in Flint.
Thirdly the issues confronting players in college pales to those situations where a union is needed. To hand the power that a union brings to kids going to school for free, eating meals for free, and getting books for free is like handing a gun to a kid. They have not had enough life to know how good they may have it.
They are not Jurgis Rudkus, watching loved ones day and their youth in a factory.
I'm worried it will go beyond the issues like four year guaranteed scholarships, I'm worried they will turn into the Union which set up the delivery rule at hostess.
Unions will create an ever greater adversarial environment between the students and colleges than that which exists today and it may, and *SHOULD* signal the beginning of the end for college sports.