NCAA should be Unionized Despite Coach Fitz's Position  

I'm visiting a friend today. She had been a shop steward in the school she taught in before she decided to be a stay at home mom. We had an interesting discussion last night about the Northwestern players union. And of course I had to google it... Surprise, surprise, the coach is against a union. Every year, I complete tax returns for my daughter who has a work study job and also for myself. When completing the forms, I'm asked if she received a scholarship. Last year, she got $1500. Which had to be included in my tax information. I had heard on a radio show recently that athletes who are students don't have to claim the scholarships, but you do. It is calculated in your FAFSA allocation. Students leaving colleges leave with but loads of debt. Athletes on scholarship do not. They don't have loans and they don't have work study jobs. They have 1 job in college, to win games. School is a side line for many of them. Anyone remember the Minnesota Basketball cheating scandal?

The Saint Paul Pioneer Press first broke the fraud story in March 1999, reporting that office manager and team tutor Jan Gangelhoff had admitted writing more than 400 papers for at least 18 players over a five-year period. The story prompted a nine-month, $2.2 million investigation by the university. The NCAA report echoed the finding of Minnesota's internal investigation that former coach Clem Haskins and academic adviser Alonzo Newby participated in the fraud and helped cash to help a student after she was ordered to stay away from the team.
Why cheat? Because the players had 1 and only 1 job in school, to win games. That meant a lot of time on the court, practicing. They didn't have access to the academics that other students do. Some of the athletes are strong students. It's not as if all the students cheat. But the pressure on the coaches to win at all costs force non-student like behaviors. In most places, these football and basketball coaches are the highest paid state employees. In a few, it might be the dean of the university. When students face permanent injury with no means of obtaining insurance from the universities and colleges in which they play for, it's bizarre how coaches like "Fitz" contend that they have players best interest at heart:
"I believe it's in their best interests to vote no," Fitzgerald said Saturday following a team practice. "With the research that I've done, I'm going to stick to the facts and I'm going to do everything in my power to educate our guys. Our university is going to do that. We'll give them all the resources they need to get the facts."
The facts are that Northwestern and colleges and universities like them, make boat loads of money off football. So much money that they can pay multi-million dollar salaries to the coaches and provide scholarships to nearly all the players. That these colleges recruit these kids with promises of playing college ball and being spotted by the NFL. They deserve more. And they especially deserve to join a union and obtain benefits that can impact their lives after their playing time is over, because the toll on their bodies, that will last forever. Unionization is just one step toward equity for these players. And I for one hope they think long term and not just about this next season. I hope they actually get the facts and take a stand despite the massive pressure on them right now, it's not much different than the pressure that was on the VW workers in TN recently. At least right now, politicians haven't stepped in to declare that Northwestern will close the football program. I wonder how many more days we have to wait until we start hearing that. I wonder....

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