By: Dr. Lynn Reaser
A legal and political debate is raging on whether football athletes at Northwestern University should be regarded as employees and able to form a union. The outcome of this debate could have profound implications not only for college sports but also for higher education in general.
The drive to treat college players as employees is wrong footed. Student athletes are students first and athletes second. These individuals receive their tuition, housing, meals, preferential enrollment for classes, tutoring, and other benefits. Their showcasing builds a brand name that they can capitalize on in their future athletic careers or in other professional endeavors. Turning student athletes into employees would further tilt colleges and universities towards becoming athletic enterprises rather than institutions of higher learning. Other students would bear the greater costs of athlete compensation on top of already high tuition and rising student debt.
This is a path we should not follow.