By Ken Reed
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), on behalf of the National College Players Association (NCPA), has filed a claim against the University of Southern California (USC), the Pac-12 conference and the NCAA, charging unfair labor practices. The NLRB plans to argue that athletes at USC are employees of the three groups mentioned and that their rights, including compensation, have been unlawfully restricted.
“We are working to make sure college athletes are treated fairly in both the education and business aspects of college sports,” NCPA executive director Ramogi Huma said.
“Gaining employee status and the right to organize is an important part in ending NCAA sports’ business practices that illegally exploit college athletes’ labor.”
NLRB general counsel Jennifer Abruzzo said that misclassifying college athletes as student-athletes instead of employees “deprives these players of their statutory right to organize and to join together to improve their working/playing conditions if they wish to do so. Our aim is to ensure that these players can fully and freely exercise their rights.”
It’s taken a long time but college athletes are finally — albeit slowly — gaining the civil and economic rights that the rest of American citizens enjoy. Athletes have gained more flexibility when it comes to transferring schools, flexibility that other students have always enjoyed. Moreover, in the last couple years, name, image and likeness (NIL) rights for college athletes have become a reality across the college sports landscape. (Side note: NIL, while certainly a positive development, requires some degree of standardization across states and conferences. The country is in the wild, wild west period of NIL — which isn’t sustainable from an athletic competition perspective due to states having different rules regarding what’s allowable and what isn’t.)
It’s important to note that this latest unlawful labor effort by NCPA and NLRB is not focused solely on economic compensation. If successful, college athletes would have the right to organize and bargain for better healthcare benefits, etc., as well.
“NCAA sports has used the words ‘student-athlete’ and ‘amateurism’ to skirt labor laws and deny generations of college athletes fair treatment,” said former University of Iowa basketball player and NCPA athletes’ board member Jordan Bohannon. He called the NLRB action an “important step toward much needed change.”
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
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Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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