Unsportsmanlike conduct

Unionizing college athletes violates the core principles of school sports

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There are plenty of sports halls of fame.

Is there a Wretched Ideas Hall of Fame? If there is, we have a shoo-in candidate.

Collegiate athletics as we know it will be destroyed if this week’s ruling by the National Labor Relations Board is allowed to stand.

The NLRB ruled football players at Northwestern University are “employees” of the school and, as such, can form a union.

It essentially turns amateurs into professionals. It takes the “student” out of student athlete. And it adds layers of cynicism and combativeness to something that Americans primarily admire for its relative purity.

What’s next? Are college athletes going to strike for higher wages? Are they going to pay dues to the nearest Teamsters local? Will contracts for football and basketball teams be different from, say, the tennis and swim teams? Are politicians going to cozy up to them as the newest voter bloc?

These are likely issues Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter didn’t consider when he started the drive to organize his teammates.

“It’s a huge step on our journey to gaining basic protections and basic rights,” he said of the ruling.

Basic protections and rights? We were unaware college athletes were so badly exploited, what with the free tuition, room and board, academic counseling and health care they receive for playing a game they enjoy,

Isn’t their primary “job” in college to get an education? Shouldn’t they be fortunate for the opportunity, as many would never get such a chance on academic merit alone?

Fortunately Wednesday’s preliminary ruling has zero immediate effect. Northwestern can appeal, and the ruling only affects players at private schools because the NLRB has no power over state-run institutions. The full NLRB will have to rule as well. And there will likely be more legal appeals by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Still, the ruling is sure to have a chilling effect on the future of student athleticism. Are high school students going to hire sports agents to help them negotiate the “best deal” from the nation’s colleges? Will smaller universities have to shutter their sports programs entirely because they can’t compete with big-money programs?

If young athletes only want to be paid, they should skip college and offer themselves to professional teams on the open market.

There’s a place for amateurs and a place for professionals. Mixing the two diminishes the value of education and takes the fun out of college sports.

Comments (23) Add comment
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Riverman1
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Riverman1 03/28/14 - 05:40 am
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Football Ain't Easy

I will say being on the football team, banging heads and running until you puke about every day is not quite like being on the golf team where you wonder if the 10 mph breeze is going to make your round difficult.

ymnbde
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ymnbde 03/28/14 - 06:25 am
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2
and now, the end is near

college football had a nice ride
the ncaa does exploit the athlete, though
most of the football and basketball players are not academically prepared for college
and many of them never graduate
but modern unions still cause more harm than good
this union is more about making money for the union
than protecting the safety of the coal min... oops, college boys
minor leagues for football, your time has come!

stuaby
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stuaby 03/28/14 - 07:17 am
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Who knows where the

Who knows where the Northwestern initiative would lead, but I'm all in favor of allowing NCAA Div. I football and basketball players to be given money if someone wants to give them money.

Ymnbde is right, most of these guys aren't college material to begin with, so the "they're getting a scholarship" business doesn't cut it. They are brought in there to play, period. And the starters are responsible for bringing MILLIONS of dollars to the big schools. And no one is allowed to give them a dollar.

It's almost legalized slavery. The only thing keeping from literally being slavery is the fact that the players are doing this willingly, many in hopes of making it to the NFL or NBA.

It isn't right. It just isn't.

stuaby
4635
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stuaby 03/28/14 - 07:21 am
1
1
"...it adds layers of

"...it adds layers of cynicism and combativeness to something that Americans primarily admire for its relative purity."

Relative purity? Now that's piling it kinda high and deep, don't you think?

stuaby
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stuaby 03/28/14 - 07:27 am
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"Will smaller universities

"Will smaller universities have to shutter their sports programs entirely because they can’t compete with big-money programs?"

Heck, they already can't compete! Especially when it comes to football. Many are losing money. Allowing players to receive money won't change a thing.

I doubt that it'd make much difference in basketball either. The same 30 or so teams will take turns winning the national championship.

stuaby
4635
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stuaby 03/28/14 - 07:29 am
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Right on, Riverman1. right

Right on, Riverman1. right on.

People who've never played have no idea how rough this sport is.

effete elitist liberal
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effete elitist liberal 03/28/14 - 07:34 am
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"student"? "purity"?

Was this piece written with a straight face? MR, are you really that naive, or is it just your union animus is so totally blinding that you have convinced yourself that most major college athletes are actually in it for an "education"? Remember, long before university sports stars became more athletes than students, universities became less institutions of learning and more like money generating corporations.
There is little or no "purity" on either side, and if unionization means the end of college athletics "as we know it," that won't be such a bad thing if colleges return to the main reason for their existence.
Hint, MR, it's not to provide you with weekend entertainment....

deestafford
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deestafford 03/28/14 - 07:50 am
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There is one thing I'd like to see the NCAA change...

There is one thing I'd like to see the NCAA change and that is allowing the athletes to get jobs and have some money beyond the room, board, and tuition they currently get.

Right now because they NCAA tries to keep the athletes from getting "shadow jobs" that some of them have no money to buy a meal or clothes. They are so scared of over influence by boosters that they have gone over board.

I think each athlete who is on scholarship should get some stipend to cover what are incidental expenses. Right now they can't even get a Burger King meal paid for by someone else.

It is wrong to say the athletes are being exploited because the schools are making millions of dollars from the football programs. They get the opportunity to receive an education that costs over $100k and up. Additionally, if they are good enough they get trained to become professionals and earn millions.

College is a training ground for life as well as a profession. When you hear former athletes of Bear Bryant they don't talk as much about what when on on the football field as they do about what they learned about life and being a man from him.

Compensation is not all about earning money. It can be about learning to become a productive and upstanding human being. Granted, too many are not academically ready for college and the only way they get there is athletic ability, but they are better off for having the chance to get there and some to grow intellectually to deserve a college degree.

Fortunately, many schools such as Alabama have forced study hall and tutors to make sure the athletes stay academically up to speed. Granted, I will agree that some of the "majors" of study are not going to get them any Phi Beta Kappa keys.

Bizkit
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Bizkit 03/28/14 - 07:54 am
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Gosh if people got as excited

Gosh if people got as excited about an education as they do sports all students would make straight A's. I enjoyed football in my youth. Taught me that pain is just something you "suck up" (which is good cause now all my old injuries haunt me), and that good sportsman ship is for the british who line up in a row because you want to win at all cost and try to injure as many opposing good players as you can. I learned how to hurt people and be brutal-which became fun sadly. Not really good things to teach you, but sure seems that's the way the world runs. I forgot to mention I could have made straight A's and no one would care or notice (girls think you are a geek), but make a good play and you are a hero and everyone thinks your great and the girls fawn all over you. I learned I live in a shallow world with mostly shallow people.

stuaby
4635
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stuaby 03/28/14 - 09:27 am
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1
Biz

"...make a good play and you are a hero and everyone thinks your great and the girls fawn all over you."

It is amazing. ...incredible how far making a game-saving tackle goes...

stuaby
4635
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stuaby 03/28/14 - 09:30 am
3
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Dee, With a lot of these

Dee,
With a lot of these guys, the higher education thing is like trying to fit a round peg into a square hole.

It would be good if they were to implement your stipend idea.

jaymai
396
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jaymai 03/28/14 - 09:35 am
2
1
Some athletes see no value

Some athletes see no value whatsoever in a college education (or "book learning" period, for that matter). Some athletes and their parents only see college as a stepping stone for them to "get paid" when they go pro in two or three years. They don't appreciate how fortunate they are to get for free what many would give an arm and a leg for. A college degree means opening doors for some, but means nothing to some of these athletes and their families who grew up idolizing thugs, hustlers, rappers and other athletes - not people with "paper" on the wall. Not that some of these so-called "student athletes" are college material in the first place - but I digress. So yeah, I can see why some of these athletes think they're getting screwed because they're playing sports and getting "nothing" in return while the school makes millions.

jimmymac
45788
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jimmymac 03/28/14 - 12:07 pm
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EDUCATION
Unpublished

Most of todays collegiate athletes see little or no value in getting an education. They'd skip classes entirely if they could get away with it. The colleges need to pay the athletes a stipend so they have some spending money. Many of the kids come from deprived backgrounds and aren't getting any help from home. If the students want paid to play then the colleges should charge them to go to school. That way everybody pays! In the end the costs will be shoved off onto the fans anyway!

t3bledsoe
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t3bledsoe 03/28/14 - 12:55 pm
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1
stuaby @ 8:17

"It's almost legalized slavery. The only thing keeping from literally being slavery is the fact that the players are doing this willingly, many in hopes of making it to the NFL or NBA"

I don't perticularly agree that these atheletes should be paid by ANYONE, BUT your arguement about the tremendous "WIND-FALL" profits that they bring into these universities MUST BE off-set in some manor other than "GETTING A FREE RIDE SCHOLAURSHIP"!!

deestafford
30500
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deestafford 03/28/14 - 01:36 pm
1
1
A few points here:

It is a shame that many as stuaby points out don't take advantage of what they can learn in college classrooms and prepare themselves for the future after professional athletics. Those taking "Domestic Engineering" majors at GA Tech are wasting a great opportunity.

There are some who listened to their coaches who tried to impart life lessons beyond the playing field are set for life. It's the poor kid from a poor family who goes on to become a pro and throws away money like crazy and ends up broke who are the shameful ones.

The money athletics bring in to the universities go well beyond the athletic field as far as being spent on academic buildings, facilities, and transportation means. Not only that, football as the big money maker pays the way for many of the other money-losing sports. Some which would not exist if it weren't for the football funds.

I think the union thing will fall flat eventually. It's another example of collectiveness on the part of Obama's minions whom he puts into positions. This is just another of his worms coming into the light of day.

corgimom
36830
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corgimom 03/28/14 - 05:37 pm
0
2
"I think each athlete who is

"I think each athlete who is on scholarship should get some stipend to cover what are incidental expenses. "

So why shouldn't students that are on music scholarships, academic scholarships, art scholarships, etc be given the same thing?

How is it different for athletes?

corgimom
36830
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corgimom 03/28/14 - 05:39 pm
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A whole lot of those athletes

A whole lot of those athletes aren't college material, and never will be college material, and the only thing that got them there was their athletic abilities. They read and write on an elementary school level and can barely write a coherent sentence.

corgimom
36830
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corgimom 03/28/14 - 05:41 pm
1
1
" I forgot to mention I could

" I forgot to mention I could have made straight A's and no one would care or notice (girls think you are a geek), but make a good play and you are a hero and everyone thinks your great and the girls fawn all over you. I learned I live in a shallow world with mostly shallow people."

Not all the girls, only the shallow ones.

Some of us valued then, and valued now, the ones that got A's. You just weren't looking in the right places, the worthwhile girls don't see geeks, they see men that will make good husbands and fathers.

corgimom
36830
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corgimom 03/28/14 - 05:44 pm
1
1
They are employees because

They are employees because they are required to be at certain places, at certain times; they are under supervision; they cannot choose when to be there; and they are receiving compensation for their services.

And that's an employee.

This has nothing to do with unions. It has to do with the legal definition of an employee.

corgimom
36830
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corgimom 03/28/14 - 06:01 pm
1
1
" Basic protections and

" Basic protections and rights? We were unaware college athletes were so badly exploited, what with the free tuition, room and board, academic counseling and health care they receive for playing a game they enjoy,

Isn’t their primary “job” in college to get an education? Shouldn’t they be fortunate for the opportunity, as many would never get such a chance on academic merit alone?"

This is sickening. The ACES cannot really be so naïve.

You know what happens to athletes that get sick or injured? They are cut from the team and lose everything. They don't have workman's compensation, COBRA rights, or the right to continue their scholarship, even when they are injured as part of their sports playing.

They are often forced to work more than 40 hours per week. During the season, their sports responsibilities leave them little to no time to study, making the idea of their "job" is to get an education to be a mockery. Maybe that's what they are seeking too, the idea that their education is more important than winning the next game.

During their off seasons, they have to maintain their training, for free. If they have to rehab, they have to pay for it themselves. They have to stay in shape to be able to play next season. In the summer, they still have to continue to train- for free.

If they are injured to the point of permanent disability, they are not eligible for disability settlements, like injured workers are. They are told "too bad" and pushed out.

As an American worker, employees have the right to refuse to do something that they feel is unsafe, and they cannot be fired. Athletes don't have that right. If they refuse, they will be off the team and lose everything. That is how many of these athletes die.

As for getting an education, many of them shouldn't have even graduated high school, their educational level is so low. I saw some of the athletes' work in the School of Business at ASU. It was atrocious. Some of them can't even write a simple grammatical sentence. Is it fair to the other non-athletic students that they have to maintain certain levels of accomplishment to receive a passing grade, but the athletes can slide by?

*********************
When I was in grad school at ASU, we had a woman there that was a foreign student, who was an Olympic athlete in her country. While we all liked her personally, she barely spoke English and couldn't do the work. Everything she wrote had to be rewritten by somebody else. Grad school is all about working in groups, and she couldn't pull her share of the load. We all complained to the chairman of the department and to the Dean, but they told us "too bad." No American student would be allowed to be in grad school with that low of a level of academic ability. They would've failed immediately.

Do you think that she was there for her academic abilities, or her Olympic-level athletic abilities?

stuaby
4635
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stuaby 03/28/14 - 06:09 pm
2
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@corgimom

"So why shouldn't students that are on music scholarships, academic scholarships, art scholarships, etc be given the same thing?

How is it different for athletes?"

The difference is that people would like to give these guys money in appreciation for what they do, but are prevented from doing so by the nonsensical, ill-conceived NCAA rules.

If someone wants to give the college's first chair violinist money, there would be not be, nor should there be, a problem with that.

Of course, the school's symphony orchestra isn't governed by the NCAA.

stuaby
4635
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stuaby 03/28/14 - 06:14 pm
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I would go so far as to say

I would go so far as to say that, as far as college football and basketball is concerned, why not just drop the requirement that athletes be students. It's a sham. Let the ones who have the intellectual acumen be students if they want, but just drop the student requirement. Make it so that you can't play after turning 23 or so and you can't play if you've ever played in the NFL/CFL/etc.

Instead of the scholarship, set up an annuity for the guys or something.

stuaby
4635
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stuaby 03/28/14 - 06:20 pm
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Excellent points you make,

Excellent points you make, Corgimom.

justthefacts
24071
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justthefacts 03/29/14 - 05:26 am
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Win/Win

Libs. I don't see the majority of players complaining. Go away.

KasparHauser
368
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KasparHauser 03/29/14 - 04:36 pm
0
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More Questions than Answers
Unpublished

Takes the 'fun' out of college sports FOR WHOM? The person with a blown-out knee being carried from the sidelines on a gurney? The athlete who doesn't make it to the Pros and was cheated on their education along the way for the sake of the alumni and their money?

And, "I don't see the majority of players complaining." sounds an awful lot like the ole "They really liked being slaves." GOP refrain.

BTW, just when was the last time MIT, U of Chicago, Oxford or Cambridge won an NCAA Division I title?? Doesn't seem like 'college sports' is anything but bread and circuses for the same adolescents we don't let buy alcohol because of their lack of judgement.

But, it is good to see the same ole gang of EOLers posting their 100th opinion for today...

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