Democrats Introduce Bill Allowing College Athletes To Unionize
- Jun 02, 2021
- The Daily Wire
The term “student-athlete” has long been used in order to justify the continued classification of college athletes as amateurs.
It’s a controversial topic, as major college athletes make their universities, and the NCAA, millions of dollars every year. Some believe — based on how compensation works in every other facet of American society — that athletes are being unjustly taken advantage of by a system which willingly and knowingly uses their athletic talents for personal gain.
Others see the current structure as a way of keeping college athletics separate from professional sports and point to the free education that many college athletes receive based on their athletic gifts as just compensation.
A new bill introduced by Democrats in Congress last Thursday could put an end to the debate once and for all.
The College Athletes Right to Organize bill says that college athletes who are compensated for their athletic ability should have the right to organize and collectively bargain. If passed into law, the bill — introduced by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) — would effectively end the NCAA’s premise of amateurism.
In the most direct Congressional challenge to college sports amateurism to date, a group of Democrats have introduced new legislation today that would make college athletes employees of their school and give them the right to unionize.
— Dan Murphy (@DanMurphyESPN) May 27, 2021
“Big time college sports haven’t been ‘amateur’ for a long time, and the NCAA has long denied its players economic and bargaining rights while treating them like commodities,” Murphy said in a statement. “That’s why I’m introducing the College Athlete Right to Organize Act, which finally recognizes college athletes as employees and allows athletes to collectively bargain with their colleges and across conferences. Having the right to do so will help athletes get the pay and protections they deserve and forces the NCAA to treat them as equals rather than second-class citizens. It’s a civil rights issue, and a matter of basic fairness.”
In response, the NCAA issued a statement condemning the bill.
College athletes are students and not employees of their college or university. This bill would directly undercut the purpose of college: earning a degree. The NCAA and its member schools support student-athletes through scholarships – many of which cover their full cost of education debt free – and numerous other benefits.
NCAA members also are committed to modernizing name, image and likeness rules so student-athletes can benefit from those opportunities but not become employees of their school. 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.
— Inside the NCAA (@InsidetheNCAA) May 27, 2021
According to ESPN, the new bill would give players in each athletic conference the ability to organize and bargain — like a union — for changes in hours, compensation, and working conditions.
Under current NCAA regulations, compensation for athletes is limited to scholarships. In the past several years, the NCAA has allowed more room for college athletes to make money off their likeness. After the state of California passed the “Fair Pay To Play Act” in 2019, the NCAA board of governors recommended they adopt new rules allowing student athletes to profit off their name and likeness.
The College Athletes Right to Organize bill goes a step further by reframing the relationship between universities and athletes forever.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected].
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