Do we need unionized college athletics?
National Labor Relations Board members have an opportunity to avoid making their agency look ridiculous, simple-minded and biased. They should take it.
A regional arm of the NLRB, based in Chicago, has issued a ruling that would allow many college football players to form unions. That would wreak havoc on college athletics, and in some ways, on the institutions of higher learning that participate.
If upheld, the regional board’s ruling could drain college and university athletic departments’ funds. That would affect the institutions in other ways, simply because many use income from major sports to subsidize those that draw smaller crowds. Some use athletic department income for other programs.
And, if used as a precedent, the ruling could affect many other college and university programs. What about band members who get scholarship help? Can they, too, form unions? What about student participants in a variety of other higher education activities? Can they, too, unionize?
Athletics at colleges and universities certainly has its flaws. But the regional labor board seems less concerned with those than with helping organized labor expand.
NLRB members have been asked to overturn the regional board’s ruling. They should do so as soon as possible.