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The End of “Amateur” Sport?

February 2, 2017

InsideHigherEd.com reports that on Tuesday, January 31, the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board sent a letter to the NLRB’s regional directors that that “scholarship football players in Division I Football Bowl Subdivision private-sector colleges and universities are employees” under the National Labor Relations Act.

For those who believe that colleges and universities should be primarily academic institutions, not the venue for sport spectacles, this action spells trouble for the top 20 to 50 Division I football programs.

Many football “stars” are rewarded with “scholarships” for which they must work full-time in preparation for football games from which their universities earn enormous sums marketing of sport paraphenalia and game ticket sales that exceptional athletes attract to their college or university.

Now these athletes can organize for collective bargaining and gain a significant percentage of that income.

Will this be the end of amateur sport? Does anyone think these athletes are “amateurs” except for their being denied payment for service? Now may be the time to break out college sport as separate business entities with employees or, even, shareholder athletes.

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