Opinion: Allowing college athletes to unionize could be the answer to the NCAA’s problems

Flailing around in the courts and the halls of Congress, its reputation scorched by laziness and mismanagement, the NCAA somehow summoned the gall Thursday to tell five federal lawmakers, “Oh, that wasn’t what we meant when we said we wanted your help.”

To no one’s surprise, the fifth college sports-related bill that will be submitted in the current Congress — this one led by Senators Chris Murphy, D-Conn. and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., along with three members of the House of Representatives — was about as well-received at NCAA headquarters as a piece of fish being microwaved in the break room at lunchtime. 

This new bill proposes allowing college athletes, through the National Labor Relations Act, to unionize at public schools and collectively bargain the terms under which they play sports. It would make them employees, something the NCAA has long fought against. 

“This bill would directly undercut the purpose of college: earning a degree,” the NCAA said in a statement. It continued: “We will continue to work with members of Congress to focus on issues that align with our priorities. But turning student-athletes into union employees is not the answer.” 


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