Readers sound off on unions for college athletes

Posted Sunday, Apr. 06, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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Every Monday, All Points features reader responses to a question posed by the Editorial Board. Each week’s responses also bring the next week’s question. All Points responses are not counted toward the monthly limit of one letter to the editor from each writer. Readers are welcome to send their own ideas for All Points topics to Editorial Director Mike Norman, mnorman@star-telegram.com.

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Efforts to form a union among football players at Northwestern University have sent shock waves through NCAA sports. Millions of dollars flow through such programs, but players share only through scholarships.

Traditionally, that has been enough — a college education is valuable. Tradition also favors “the love of the game” over financial gain.

But many traditions get turned on their ends. Will unions and player financial demands and endorsement deals ruin college sports, or is change inevitable?

If college football teams unionize, guess all of them will end up with a 12th man — the union rep.

— Roger Summers, Arlington

I believe student-athletes have the right to and should unionize to protect their interests.

For academic scholars, the only requirement is to maintain a certain GPA. They can study whatever they like.

Life is different for scholar-athletes. They must play their scholarship sport.

In the process, they earn millions in revenue for their schools, coaches, conference and the NCAA.

A football player might “work” 50 hours a week on practice and studying plays and film. If they get hurt, that career is finished.

Collective bargaining may ensure financial and educational stability after that career.

Forget tradition. Protect the student.

— Wayne Cobb, Mansfield

I’m only in favor of paying student-athletes as they perform just as well in class and always conduct themselves in a way that best represents their school.

If they can’t be role models, they’re not worth time or money.

— A.J. Chilson, Princeton

A union member normally needs a specific license or skill.

How do we measure football skills? Speed? Ability to pass, catch, or punt? Ability to think? Ability to outmaneuver opponents?

Who will measure the skills?

Will someone without a membership be allowed to play?

Will a coach be sued for using a non-member whose skills were superior?

If a player fails classes, will he or she be suspended from the team? From the union?

If a player is physically unable to play, will union dues cover medical costs? Or permanent loss of ability insurance? (If so, union fees will be exorbitant.)

Will taxpayers pay the players’ salaries at state schools?

We love our teams! Let’s not jump into something new that could disrupt a system.

— Myretta Bell, Bedford

No to student athletes forming unions, because it could irreparably damage the college atmosphere and lives of the athletes and other students.

In addition, unions could negatively impact how fans feel about college sports, especially for those who prefer the amateur nature of collegiate athletics versus professional sports.

Yes to giving each student-athlete a decent monthly stipend to defray costs.

Some of our universities are making a mint on athletic programs. But many more are not.

Appropriate monthly stipends could really help address the issue, but allowing unions to exist would not help the cause, and could end up hurting smaller universities and colleges to the point where they are forced to cut programs or give up athletics altogether.

— Chris Osburn, Mansfield

It would ruin college sports.

We’ve gone from “The Greatest Generation” to the “gimme” generation.

Many student-athletes never graduate, and many that do have poor skills at reading, English and mathematics.

Instead of a union and money plus their scholarship, I suggest that if an athlete graduates, he or she be awarded a graduate school scholarship. That’s worth a lot of money and a good “gimme.”

If an athlete is injured playing and unable to play that sport ever again due to the injury, he should be rewarded the same as other graduating athletes.

— George J. Anthony, Fort Worth

Will unions ruin sports?

Wait until the first strike and a football season goes south.

But who cares?

In the end, academics may improve if universities de-emphasize sports.

OK, I know it will never happen. The universities will pay the athletes more money and just raise tuition on the others.

— Clyde Picht, Fort Worth

It’s patently absurd and it will polarize the sport and cause unwanted ramifications.

College players were supposed to strut their stuff, be advertised and promote themselves into the professional league if their abilities are recognized.

Being paid at college level compromises their academics and sports will be the forefront of their career possibly even dropping out of college.

And what about colleges that can’t compensate their players at union scale because they are small?

Eliminate the scholarships if universities have to pay athletes for the “love of the game.”

— Sharon Ream, Fort Worth

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