Do College Football Players Need a Union?

Chris Dukes

Whether it be name and image likeness rights, an easier path for transfers or the recent wave of players standing up for social change, it appears college football is finally moving in the right direction when it comes to treatment of its most valuable commodity - the student athlete. 

As players continue to find their voices and create change, the time may have come to organize and create even more bargaining power as a collective group. 

SI's Rohan Nadkarni's newest column makes the case the case that current safety concerns over the coronavirus pandemic creates an even bigger need for a college football player's union. 

Threatened by the loss of some $4 billion without a football season, the NCAA is pushing forward with its own mishmash plan to continue profiting off of unpaid labor. With the organization itself shirking the responsibility of drafting a universal set of comeback standards, individual schools, much like our states, are deciding on their own how to handle the pandemic, with seemingly every Power 5 team intending to play in the fall, one way or another. (The NCAA's chief medical officer, Brian Hainline, told The Athletic that he can make best-practice suggestions that schools can choose to adopt, but it would take months for the national governing body to pass sweeping legislation, and it can't mandate health practices in the meantime.) At Michigan, for example, returning athletes had to complete what is being described loosely as a 14-day pre-report risk assessment before a six-day resocialization period on campus. But at UCLA, players had to wait a week on campus before returning to small-group workouts, where they got routine temperature checks and practiced social distancing. (The entirety of the school's policy can be found here.) The results, so far, have been deeply concerning, including small outbreaks at Alabama, Clemson, Houston, Kansas State, LSU and Texas, among other schools.

What do you think?

Should college football players create a union? What other player benefits could you see coming from collective bargaining?

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