Those of you looking at yesterday’s NLRB announcement and assuming that it’s all about the money may not be right, at least not to start with. I have the feeling that if anyone takes this particular ball and starts running with it, it’ll be about working conditions.
Winter says athletes right now could begin organizing, by team or school or conference, to make demands about working conditions if their regional labor board approves unionization. They don’t like their meals on campus? They don’t like the way in which their program travels to games? They don’t like their coach’s practice schedule? Under the National Labor Relations Act, they would have the right to voice such complaints—even go on strike—while under protection of the law from their company, in this case the university.
There are also matters like insurance and post-college health care. Or, to hit college football even harder, what if there’s an organized objection to playoff expansion?
None of this is about amateurism. It’s about having more say so in how college athletes are asked to work or enhance the educational experience or whatever euphemism you’re comfortable using to describe what they do. It won’t sit well with the control freaks who coach them, that’s for sure.