Current and former college athletes have become very active in trying to gain more rights and representation in the lucrative world of college athletics, and now Northwestern football players are taking a huge step in this area. Led by quarterback Kain Colter, Northwestern players have gone through National College Players Association president Ramogi Huma to file the necessary paperwork that could lead to the players being officially considered employees, and eventually represented by a labor union.
Ramogi and Northwestern have received backing by United Steelworkers, whose president Leo Gerard argues against the notion that the college education was fair compensation for the athletes’ services:
“When Ramogi first reached out to us years ago, we were like an overwhelming part of the population in that we figured athletes were lucky because they’re getting an education, but then we looked into it and realized it’s a myth. Many don’t get a true education and their scholarships aren’t guaranteed.”
While many of the arguments about college athletics center on whether or not the players should be paid, one anonymous Wildcat player took to Reddit to combat the notion that this is the main goal through of this unionization effort:
This isn’t about getting paid. What it is about is protection. Many of us will have numerous injuries throughout our playing careers. A group of those players will continue to feel the effects of those injuries long after their playing days are over. The goal is to have some sort of medical protection if we need surgeries stemming from injuries sustained while playing for our university.
One of the specific issues that he raises is the fact that non-redshirted players do not get the opportunity to receive a year of graduate school because they were able to play as true freshmen, which he believes should be afforded to all college athletes across the board:
Another goal is graduate school for those who were fortunate enough to play as a true Freshman. Most student-athletes get redshirted in their first year, and receive one year of grad school payed for in their fifth year of eligibility. We feel as though it is fair to ask for the same investment from the university all around. It isn’t about getting an extra $200 a month for spending. We have our stipend, and if we budget correctly we are able to make it stretch for the month. Would it be nice to have some part of jersey sales or memorabilia sales? Absolutely. But that is not the goal as of right now.
The reaction to this story on Twitter has been mixed:
This move by the Northwestern players will send shockwaves through the NCAA. College athletes are finally finding their voice.
— Rand Getlin (@Rand_Getlin) January 28, 2014
It was going to happen somewhere…but Northwestern? Its programs have little success & likely make small $? W/ that education? Interesting.
— Blake Eddins (@_BlakeEddins) January 28, 2014
College football players are officially trying to unionize. This is big: http://t.co/GcxHl7t7aL
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) January 28, 2014
Northwestern players wanting a labor union. if you don’t like the work coaches make you do you shouldn’t have taken the scholarship
— Lucas Thompson (@LucasT_GSU) January 28, 2014