English: Magazine cover of KoreAm from October 2008, featuring Northwestern Quarterback C.J. Bacher (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Northwestern Football players now have the right to be the first unionized college team in the country with a decision by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) yesterday. The regional director of the NLRB said that all players with eligibility remaining could form a union and ordered that a union board be created immediately. He determined that the players were employees under a broad definition.
Two situations led Peter Ohr, the NLRB regional director, to the conclusion that football players are employees. First, they are recruited for their ability to play football and not their ability in the classroom. And secondly, they are not permitted to miss a game or a practice when they need to study. A designated president of the new union, Ramogi Huma, said that this puts players in a more powerful position and allows for them to seek more protections.
Kain Colter complained about not being able to seek the degree that he wanted to, having to spend too much time in practice, and sacrificing his physical health for the game. Only private schools will be able to form unions after this ruling. Public school players will need to approach state-run boards instead.
Northwestern feels differently than the NLRB, and does not view student-athletes as employees. They plan to appeal the ruling to a higher level of the NLRB.
Northwestern Football Union - Outside the Lines (1-28-2014)