We’ve been raised to compete, to want more! More! More! It’s a way of life.  It’s about greed. 

                                                              —    Sandy Duncan, actress, singer

And so, the label “amateur” will likely be lifted from college football players very soon.  No more is it about earning scholarships, attaining a college education, and working hard at a sport in order to pay for that education. It’s all about greed.

     Gimme, gimme, gimme.

     The National Labor Relations Board issued a ruling in March declaring football players from Northwestern as “employees” of the university and therefore the right to form a union.


     That’s like saying tuba players in the band are employees of the college. Maybe even swimmers, cheerleaders and chess players. After all, they all compete, they all enhance the “sporting” events and they all work hard.

     Yes, football players work hard at their sport.  But they are not employees! They are students of a college or university who – in most situations – must maintain a particular grade average in order to be granted the privilege to compete.

     Now, a mighty foot has wedged into the proverbial door for unions to take over college sports.  It may start with football, but don’t think for a minute this won’t spill over to basketball, baseball, soccer, lacrosse, wrestling and more, even beyond sports.

     For their hard work and training, many football players have earned scholarships at institutions of higher learning, which is worth a lot of money, not only in tuitions but in achieving an education that will prepare them for profitable careers in later life. There’s the reward.

     Some outstanding players are often cherry-picked into the big leagues where millions of dollars are bestowed upon them as a pro. That’s another reward for being great at their sport.

     But until then, the kids are primarily students.  Other than teachers, there is no place in amateur/university sports for unions. Union power will eventually translate in to sport domination, collective bargaining and if they deem necessary, strikes and sit-downs. And it will reach out to all other extra-curriculum activities on campus.

     Talk about opening Pandora’s box.

     Collective bargaining will translate to higher and higher salaries, which will create the need for new sources of funding. Network television is already established and on board. So where will that come from?

     Ticket sales. Vendor costs.

     Today’s pro baseball and football, ticket prices have soared out of sight to where the average family can barely afford a day at the ball game, unless they sit in the bleachers over center field or the end zone. The bulk of good seating is reserved for corporations, politicians, and clients of all sizes and shapes of money bags.

     Fortunately, prices for attending amateur school games have not hit the stratosphere – yet.  But wait until the costs of ball players generate the need for revenue – revenue which the average Joe cannot afford.

     Going to college is first and foremost about attaining education.  Sports and their associated events are an important element of college life, but it’s not a “profession.”  If kids wish to dodge education and go for the big bucks, they can always apply for the pros once out of high school.

     Amy Perko, Executive Director of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics said, “Universities and the NCAA, not unions, need to be the ones to guarantee benefits, like multi-year scholarships.”

     When it comes to students, regardless of their extra curricula, unions should be kept out of the universities and colleges. To say that students who play sports are an “employee” of the school, is not only absurd, it’s nothing but a money-grubbing ploy to destroy the spirit of school sports now and forever…not only for the kids, but the families and spectators as well.

     Amy Perko enunciates many of the benefits that college athletes should be entitled to, outside of being paid “salaries” as an employee. Watch the video:

Click here: Unions not the answer for college athletes: Amy Perko 

Click here: College Players Granted Right to Form Union –

Click here: College Athletes Granted the Right to Unionize—Is This the End of the NCAA? | Alternet


  1. Charlie April 8, 2014 at 3:48 pm #

    Absurdity to the highest degree, pun intended

  2. Helen Bennett April 8, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

    You are right, Marshall! Teachers and librarians need unions, not college athletes.

  3. saverio April 8, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

    The percent of my agreeing with you rises with each article you write. Keep it up.

  4. Chris April 8, 2014 at 4:02 pm #

    My hope is that those colleges that struggle with their programs, and will not be able to pay their “students”, will just end the programs.

  5. Eileen April 8, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

    Wgen I first read an article about this the other day, I was appalled. Greed knows no limits!

  6. Pete April 8, 2014 at 4:28 pm #

    Soooo…this is a foot in the door.
    I think Northwestern should have thought long and hard about the residual effect of the possibility of such a ruling. Not sure why I hadn’t heard about this case until there was a ruling. Makes me think they should have been enlisting the support of other universities who would have no doubt been affected by such a ruling…..maybe the did? Just not effectively??

    If there is no success at appeal, I can’t help but think major college sports as we have known it will change and/or be downsized in the next few years.

  7. Veronica Helen Hart April 8, 2014 at 4:39 pm #

    Since when have football and basketball athletes at colleges been “students?” The word scholarship ought to be changed, remove the word scholar and create a new word for “free pass to a degree provided you don’t hurt your knees or otherwise screw up your athletic ability.” The players are provided tutors to ensure they maintain the minimum grade level to continue playing. They already receive all they need to live while in school.

    They are neither fish nor fowl; the largest percentage of them are definitely not there because they are scholars, nor are they yet ready for the big leagues.

    As to permitting them to have unions, Marshall is right on that score – the unions will take over. The television stations already provide billions for the colleges and universities. Coaches for the winning schools earn millions a year. I can see why the “student” athletes want more of a say in what they receive when they see all the money flowing around them.

  8. John K April 8, 2014 at 5:31 pm #

    SEIU has now wormed its way into OSHA inspections, as consultants to the Federal Government. Their objective is to organize non-union business (or anybody including athletes ) by any means possible. Desperate measures by a dying breed that once provided a real service to its members, instead of just lining the pockets of its leaders.

  9. F J. M April 8, 2014 at 6:47 pm #

    Absolutely ridiculous! I played football for many years, because I enjoyed the game. I went to college on a scholarship and played in the Mid-West Professional Football League – for a whopping $500 a game. E. J. Holub, Kansas City Chiefs, when called in for his first “contract” negation was told that the most they could pay him was $250,000 a year – that was to play center on offense and linebacker on defense. He was told he could get a lawyer to represent him (agents hadn’t been “invented” yet). His response was, “You are going to pay me 250 thousand dollars AND let me play football too? What do I need a lawyer for, where do I sign?
    That is a REAL athlete – playing for the love of the game. We have lost all perspective in the sports arena as well as many other areas, which Marshall has so brilliantly noted in other atricles.

  10. Harold Swift April 8, 2014 at 6:50 pm #

    In the days of John L Lewis, unions were a necessary endeavor. The Miners were slave labor and moving on to steel workers and the trucking industry, they were not much better off. Good. They were successful in organizing over much pain, death and many political struggles BUT, once they got the foothold, they became a cancer that has brought our national industrial machine to a halt and between them and the government riding shotgun for them, all of our industry has been forced to go off shore. Isn’t it time that people began to realize this. Look at our school system to see what I am talking about. They can not go off shore. They are devastated and benign and Common Core intends to drive the death Nell into them.

  11. JKR April 8, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

    They should be careful what they wish for.

    If they are considered employees their scholarships,including tuition, books, room, meals,etc., could add up to large sums of taxable income.

    • mike April 8, 2014 at 8:47 pm #

      I like that– be careful what you ask for !!!!

  12. Lee Martines April 8, 2014 at 8:17 pm #

    This is totally preposterous! The time for the need of unions in America has long passed.

  13. Ron Fischer April 8, 2014 at 8:42 pm #

    This is not an enhancement for college athletic programs. Maybe the next step is to sub-contract college sports programs to something like professional minor league teams sponsored by colleges and universities? Then the “students” don’t even have to go to classes, get tutoring or pay tuition. They can just play for pay until they have no value beyond sports.

    So what’s next; a military petition for a union?

  14. mike April 8, 2014 at 8:48 pm #

    we will only have a dozen big schools playing ball before long- this will blow up in their face

  15. Bill Solen April 8, 2014 at 9:41 pm #

    This goes much further than just a college athlete being given union status via employee status. More deeply rooted in this latest government debacle is that it again questions Obama’s continued defiance of constitutional law and federal court rulings and his ability to continue doing whatever he wishes. When he appointed the last 3 NLRB members the courts ruled that 2 appointments were unconstitutional but they are still there making their opinions heard and their votes counted.

    It’s Washington’s partisan business as usual but if the Supreme court does their job in the coming months I think there will be hundreds of the more recent NLRB decisions overturned. Hopefully the college employees/athletes unionization will be included.

    Who will be next, the Harvard rowing team?

  16. Frank M. April 9, 2014 at 8:08 am #

    This administration continues to destroy the fabric of this country, and this is just one more way that they are doing it. Hope that the courts will overturn these dreadful decisions by an administration bought and paid for by the unions.

  17. Denis April 9, 2014 at 10:39 am #

    While I agree with you that a college Football players union is bad in so many ways, it should be pointed out that the NCAA is fully to blame for consistently failing to protect the football players. They suspended Johnny Manzel for selling his autograph then then sell football jerseys with his name ond number on their own website and don’t give him a penny. Much more, they set up rules that prohibit him from getting a part time job to pay for toothpaste and soap. If he turns to an agent to sponsor him then he will be banded from the sport all together. Unions come in when things are way out of balance and that is what is happening in college sports today. The highest payed government employees at the State and Federal level are the college football coaches. I hope the NCAA gets back to its mission to protect the athletes and promote all sports at the college level. I’d hate to see unions do what they did for the auto industry. Can you imagine college sports being outsourced to India or China.

  18. Dan Townsend April 10, 2014 at 7:40 am #

    Marshall, the problem is not that of “unions” in athletics, but the general principle of “pretend” students recruited at great expense nationwide willing to bash their brains in to entertain rich and drunk alums of various universities. Do Chinese universities waste their time and resources on this crap? You need to concentrate on that problem–“entertainment” at the expense of U.S. students acquiring debt which cannot be discharged. Nero would have approved

  19. Jose May 15, 2014 at 8:33 pm #

    Unions will of course destroy college sports as we know them today. For the record, I hate most everything about unions and the destructive impact they have had on our economy and industrial base.

    However, we are kidding ourselves when we call our major university heroes “STUDENTS”, Look at the graduation rates of the leading basketball and football schools. They are not students, they are recruited to fill an opening on a sports team. They seldom attend class and rarely graduate. They are employees in a gigantic money making machine. Free tuition, books, and fees are hardly compensation for the work we ask them to do.

    Unions are not the answer. However facing the reality of equitable compensation is the problem that must be dealt with.

    Roll Tide!