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A Whole New Game?

Today and tomorrow, members of the College Athlete Players Association are in Washington D.C to meet with Congress and answer questions about their unprecedented efforts to organize. A right that a National Labor Relations Board director said the Northwestern University football players had since they were employees of the university. I can see the logic behind that, an athletic scholarship could be seen as a contract. The university provides the player with room and board, and some semblance of an education; the player generates revenue for the school through ticket sales, TV revenue, and merchandise sales.

The March 24 decision was hailed by labor leaders in Pennsylvania. State Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder called the decision as a "historic decision for a historic campaign." State President Rich Bloomingdale said the ruling "affirms the principle that people who work hard deserve justice and fair treatment, whether that work is in a factory or on a football field."

But there are still many questions that need to be answered, as a March 31 episode of the Diane Rhem brought up. For one, could this right to organize be extended to players at state-run universities like Ohio State, Alabama or Clemson. Could it be argued that these players are employees of the state, and if so, the could the Service Employees International Union take the same role that the United Steelworkers played in the Northwestern effort.

Could this lead to the end of college athletics as we know it? With football and basketball being separate entities from the other sports? How would this affect Title IX, would the womens teams be able to organize? We can only wait and see.