Allen B. West

Players pushing to unionize NCAA

Just when you think you’ve heard it all something else pops up that just shocks you. Y’all know I’m from the South and down there we have two religions in the Fall: college football and church.

Growing up in Georgia I knew the tunes to most of the SEC college football songs right along with all the hymns from Ft. Street United Methodist Church. In 1982 when I was attending the University of Tennessee and we beat Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s Crimson Tide from Alabama for the first time in 12 years — yep, I ran onto the field and helped tear down the goalposts.

I wonder what ol’ Coach Majors and Bryant would think of the news coming out of Northwestern University this week that the football team is working on creating the first labor union for college athletes.

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According to CBS News

“The football team at Northwestern University is leading a fight off the field. Players are filing papers to create the first labor union for college athletes.

Now anyone who knows anything about college football knows it’s a big time multi-billion dollar enterprise. When I showed up at Tennessee, Neyland Stadium was a big horseshoe and had bleachers at the north end, opposite the Tennessee River side, and sat about 75,000. By my sophomore year the lower portion had been enclosed and the stadium held about 90,000 — we opened up that year with powerhouses USC Trojans and then a Georgia Bulldog team with some guy named Herschel Walker.

Just remember the 1981 Sugar Bowl game between Georgia and Notre Dame when the freshman sensation Walker played with a dislocated shoulder and led Georgia to a 17-10 victory over the Fighting Irish and a National Championship.

Now, what if Herschel was a member of a college football players union?

I don’t see there’s anything wrong with giving these student-athletes a stipend during their respective season that allows them to take care of some basic needs and just get a pizza now and then. Generally these student-athletes are already receiving a scholarship to an institute of higher education, something not to be dismissed. Some may consider that compensation, but I consider it a reward for a given talent that they should turn into an incredible opportunity — consider where Richard Sherman came from and received a scholarship to Stanford.

But this idea of a college football players’ union is the wrong approach. The NCAA rules prohibit athletes from being paid to play, but they can receive compensation in the form of scholarships and living expenses.

CBS News’ Michelle Miller asked Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter, leading the push for unions, whether that was enough.

We’re very grateful for the education that we get, and we put in hard work to obtain the degree at the end of the day,” he said. “There are essential rights and benefits that we’re missing out on.

There we go again with that misused word, “rights.” What right does Mr. Colter believe he has beyond, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness because he can throw a football?

Colter says athletes are missing out on fully-funded athletic scholarships, due process for alleged NCAA violations and guaranteed coverage for medical expenses for current and former players. In order to be recognized as a union, the players have to prove they’re employees of the university, a claim the NCAA flatly rejects, saying in a statement, “This … attempt to turn student-athletes into employees undermines the purpose of college: an education. Student-athletes are not employees, and their participation in college sports is voluntary.”

In other words, no one is forcing these student-athletes to play sports and there is no force or coercion when they decide what school they want to attend and accept a scholarship.

However, Ramogi Huma who played football at UCLA has fought for college athletes’ rights for more than 15 years. He says schools explicitly bring players to school to “provide a service athletically.”

I think Huma has it all wrong. After all, individuals make a decision to sign their name and play sports. That’s not hiring. They’re given an opportunity based upon a skill set, and the primary reason for attending college isn’t to play sports but to get an education.

DeMaurice Smith, head of the NFL Players Association, said the real question is not whether the players will be paid but “what’s the best way for college athletes to protect their rights. So whether it’s the sleeping car porters from years ago, whether it’s the women’s movement in order to attain the right to vote, you can only do that if you can collectively come together to protect your rights.

Just think of who is running the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). I don’t put it past the progressive socialists who despise all tradition to unionize college football. After all, it was President Obama who said, “if I had a son, I wouldn’t want him to play football.”

Hmm, I just had a thought. Northwestern University is just outside Chicago. Saul Alinsky is from Chicago — along with President Obama, David Axelrod, Valerie Jarrett, Rahm Emmanuel, Jesse Jackson, Jeremiah Wright, Louis Farrakhan, Hillary Clinton, and in June 2014, the Communist Party USA will hold its 30th National Convention in? You guessed it, Chicago where it all began in 1919.

Damn, I hope we don’t start have to saying “Comrade-Athlete.”

C’mon NCAA, just provide a reasonable monthly stipend before the liberal progressives screw up my favorite sport!

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