College football players: Students? Student Athletes? Employees? What a mess. DearKidLoveMom.comDear Kid,

Have you heard the latest about college football players? The Chicago NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) ruled that college football players (specifically the players at Northwestern) are employees of the university. And therefore that they are allowed to form a union. Possibly even a more perfect union.

The players (and player advocacy groups of which there are a surprising number) are tickled pink. The school (and other colleges of which there are an unsurprising number) are not a bit amused.

Part of the statement from Northwestern read “Northwestern believes strongly that our student-athletes are not employees, but students.” As if being students and employees are mutually exclusive, which—duh—they are not.

The NCAA, knowing who supplies the butter for its bread, gave the ruling a thumbs down. Then again, the NCAA has a lot on its “we’re being sued” plate and claims it didn’t order dessert so please make this go away. Not likely.

The whole issue is muddy at the moment. There will be appeals. The ruling (basically) only applies to private colleges at the moment, and most football factories are state schools. There will also be questions (the kind you put off answering until the very last minute of the exam) about what players will demand when, as, and if they unionize. Current speculation is they will not be asking for money (because that could raise bigger problems like ineligibility) but instead will want things like better health coverage and better protection from head injuries. And probably an extra serving of butter on their bread.

I find the whole conversation fascinating. I suspect there will be many, many changes in college sports (did I mention the NCAA is facing a lot of law suits?) over the next few years. Probably none of those changes will result in female mascots, but they could result in a better situation for the players and the colleges. (Yes, I believe there are ways everyone can win if only people will sit down together and think rather than yell at each other in capital letters and giant red magic markers.)

Unfortunately, it seems more likely that the lawyers will get rich while the universities and the NCAA go kicking and screaming through the process.

Love, Mom