Northwestern Football Team Unionizes

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Compensation, payment and scholarships for college-level athletes have been a hotly debated topic in recent years without much progress in either direction. However, a recent push by Northwestern University Football players, led by former quarterback Kain Colter, has led to a winning bid that will potentially unionize players and help acquire medical coverage and full, irrevocable four-year scholarships.

Some advocates are pushing for college athletes to have their education, room and board, and all other expenses paid for by universities, as well as receiving a salary for playing; others want college athletics to return to the way it began: athletes simply playing a sport to enhance their college experience, and receiving little help from schools.

While both sides seem radical, they both have valid points and the logical answer would be to strike a balance that would solve the vital problems of both sides. One of the most important points brought up by Colter is that college athletes receive little to no health coverage from their schools. Sports like lacrosse, football and hockey are high risk and come with inevitable injuries, and athletes in all sports will at some point require serious medical attention. It is to the mutual benefit of the colleges and their athletes to have medical coverage be paid for by the athletic department.

Kain argues that college football is just as time-consuming as any job and this pressure is exacerbated at Northwestern by their thorough commitment to football, and complicated class scheduling. His first plan of action after successfully testing for his teammates’ support was to fight for the power to collectively bargain. A local Labor Relations Board ruled that the football players are, in fact, employees of the University. Northwestern is appealing the decision.

 

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