Sports are games, not jobs

Nicole Koster

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The debate of unionizing student-athletes is polarizing, especially for student-athletes who play for state or private universities. Those teams rake in more than $5 million dollars a year from television and merchandise revenue. The student-athletes don’t receive a penny. Yes, this seems unfair. Shabazz Napier, guard for the University of Connecticut Huskies basketball team told reporters at The Connecticut Mirror he and his teammates have many hungry nights, and their scholarships do not cover every expense. He plays for the 2014 NCAA Championship team and he doesn’t have enough money to survive. Ironically though, his talents just generated over $1 billion.
There are some obvious holes in the NCAA system, but making thousands of student-athletes unionized employees of their university is illogical. NCAA should allocate funds generated by March Madness to universities. The athletic department could then distribute funds among student-athletes in the form of scholarships, similar to our MyLionCard. They can then use the money for anything extra.
On March 23, President of the NCAA Mark Emmert openly discussed this topic on Meet the Press during March Madness 2014, saying people are framing the question of ‘Is it fair?’ completely wrong. He is completely against the notion of a union, and so am I.
Being a realist, I’m looking at the big picture here. Paying every student-athlete would make him or her an employee of the university. The athletics department pays the university from all money made during the year, but the athletics department pays for student-athletes scholarships, not the university. NCAA rarely helps; this is where the problem festers. Southeastern alone has close to 1,000 student-athletes. Paying every single one of them for their hard work and talent would put the department in the red zone financially.  
Consider these objectives, student-athletes: what kind of work would you actually do as an employee of Southeastern? Yes, being a student-athlete is demanding and physically exhausting work, but compare the work you would do to the work actual faculty and staff do on a daily basis. A student-athlete is not teaching anybody, completing research in a field of study, serving the student body lunch in the Student Union or a custodian or landscaper keeping our campus beautiful and clean.
This social movement of unionizing student-athletes, like what is in the process of happening at Northwestern University, if the National Labor Relations Board approves their unfair charge, then, student-athletes of private universities will be able to unionize.
The fault lies on the NCAA and how they are handling their money and their student-athletes. Unionizing student-athletes would be unfair to the rest of the student body. NCAA rules and regulations state student-athletes cannot accept any form of money or gifts, unless the entire student body is entitled to the same gift. So unless we’re all receiving new jobs soon, then pay for play should not happen.

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