Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Northwestern U. Football vs. NCAA (2014)

Wildcats Football at Ryan Field; 2014 final record of 5-7

Many of us know the difference between college athletes and professional athletes, and that is that college athletes do not receive compensation for their performances. They may be bringing billions of dollars into these division 1 schools based on performance and they do not see any of that. Now do you think that is rather unfair?
The student athletes at Northwestern University football team definitely did not see that this was fair at all. They tried to form a union for these football athletes under the College Athletes Players Association (CAPA), and ended up filing a lawsuit against the NCAA saying that they should have the right to form a union. They were lead by former Northwestern Quarterback Kain Colter, who has been testifying at every hearing for the CAPA. They basically believe they want to be seen as employees rather than just students. The NCAA believes that the "student-athlete" who receive scholarships to pay for their education and return the favor by hours of practicing and competing for their university, is compensation enough on their part. Colter then says that all of the scholarships given to these football players do in face support the drive for this union. It also does not exactly equal the billions of dollars for the University, but it is a form of compensation, and does make this case a little more complicated for Colter and the Northwestern football players.
However, as of March 26, 2014, regional director of the National Labor Relations Board Peter Ohr ruled in favor of the football players, and saw that they were used as employee of the University and have the right to form a union for college athletes. He supported Northwestern based on some factors like the amount of hours these kids spend on football, which can be almost 50 a week. Also there is an incredible amount of control on their lives from their coaches, and based on what their scholarship's terms are as well. Forming the union will allow the football players at Northwestern will help them feel and be possibly compensated like employees, and can now bargain collectively with the university and NCAA.

In my opinion, the NCAA is a business and should compensate student athletes as employees for making them billions of dollars each year. The stakeholders that are involved with this type of case would be the NCAA, Northwestern University, Northwestern football players and their families as well. 

NCAA logo
The NCAA is definitely showing signs of individualism here because they are looking out for their own benefit rather than the other stakeholders as well. Individualism means that someone is looking out for their own benefit, but they do not have the right to make these decisions for others. It is true that they are looking out for their own pursuits and benefits, but they do not really consider how others are affected by these actions. An example of this would be these athletes who are going to these schools to turn professional, and to make money for their families. However, many of these kids do not make it that far, and now are stuck without any form of income, and a lack of a college degree for leaving early. If the NCAA were to compensate them, then they may be able to live moderately until they can get on their feet again and receive an education. They are clearly only having these students to make them billions of dollars a year and this can be a sign of clear individualism.

UtilitarianismThe NCAA also has shown signs of utilitarianism, which is to strive for happiness and make others happy as well. They have showed this to some degree, but they definitely could have more of it based on this case. The NCAA do provide scholarships for a full education, and can fully benefit those who stay in school and receive a degree. This will allow them to have a backup plan if going professional did not work to their benefit. This can obviously make them happy and their families happy, due to full ride for a higher education. However, not every athlete on the team receives these scholarships, and most of them have to pay for their schooling as well as play football. This can also lead to many stressful days for these kids, with the amount of hours practicing and devoting to football, which can seriously affect their schooling. That stress can also lead to depression as well. Now, since these kids are not being compensated and have to pay for school, it can be even worse for the kids who do leave early to contend for professional sports and don't make it. The families of these players would not be happy at all to see their child not make a career professionally, not have an education, and as well as have to pay for the school that they did complete. The NCAA were making themselves happy of course with the amount of revenue they were making, but were not looking out completely for other's happiness as well.

Kantianism is also another trait the the NCAA does not seem to possess. Kantianism is the way of thinking that you or an organization is above the law, you do not respect others, and you should act on their own "good will". Granted, it is not legally wrong as of right now to not compensate these athletes, but it seems that they don't always seem to respect them. They also do not seem that they would act on their own "good will" and compensate these athletes, and it would take a case like this to start that process. These athletes generate billions of dollars for the NCAA, but it doesn't seem as that they respect and treat them like they do. Even though the football playoff system is worth 7.3 billion for 10 years and the basketball tournament is 10.8 billion over 14 years. Also, the NCAA should have compensated these athletes as a "thank you" sort of for helping them be such a successful and dominant organization. The NCAA did not disobey any laws, but if it weren't for the athletes, there may not be an NCAA, or at least a powerful one.

Virtue Theory
CAPA logo
This case is a good example for the Virtue theory which means that their are several characteristics that help things to function properly. There are four characteristics and that is "courage, honesty, temperance, and justice". These characteristics were expressed not only the NCAA but also by the Northwestern football players as well. Courage was definitely shown by Colter and the players because at such a young age having to stand up for yourself against a big organization like the NCAA can be very intimidating. They stood their ground and were willing to fight for what they believed in, and won for the time being. Honesty was achieved by both of the parties, and no one really has lied about anything. They both have their opinions in what they are fighting for, and they were truthful in that aspect. Temperance is to have reasonable expectations and desires for what you want. I believe that the NCAA, for the amount of hours required by the football players for the team, was not a reasonable expectation to hold their scholarship against. If they had less hours for these athletes, then maybe it would be considered good compensation for players. The main part of justice that the NCAA violated is the fair practices. Making money off of memorabilia of players currently is not fair to these players if not compensated a little. They do not receive any payments from selling of jerseys, hats, pictures, or any other type of products.

I believe that after this lawsuit, the NCAA will have to take steps in a form of some compensation to these athletes. They do behave unethically to these players and they don't treat them with enough fairness at all. Also now that Northwestern won this case, more schools will join in on this fight for "student-employees" rather than "student-athletes". Therefore they may now suffer a huge loss if having to compensate every athlete at every school.


Red, Christian. "Northwestern University Football Players Get Approval to Form Union ." NY Daily News. NY Daily News, 26 Mar. 2014. Web. 01 Apr. 2014. <http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/college/northwester-football-players-approval-form-union-article-1.1735734>.

Strauss Ben, and Steve Eder. "College Players Granted Right to Form Union." The New York Times. The New York Times, 26 Mar. 2014. Web. 01 Apr. 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/27/sports/ncaafootball/national-labor-relations-board-rules-northwestern-players-are-employees-and-can-unionize.html?_r=0>.

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