Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NCAA football exploits players in 'invisible labor market', expert says

Date:
August 23, 2012
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
College football exploits players in an "invisible labor market," and the only plausible way for student-athletes to address their interests is the credible threat of unionization, according to new research from an expert in labor relations and collective bargaining in athletics.

College football exploits players in an "invisible labor market," and the only plausible way for student-athletes to address their interests is the credible threat of unionization, according to research from a University of Illinois expert in labor relations and collective bargaining in athletics.

Since traditional collective bargaining is impractical for student-athletes, an "invisible union," derived from what labor scholars call the "union substitution effect," could be a viable way to circumnavigate the amateur-professional boundary that has become increasingly blurry in the multi-billion-dollar sport, says Michael LeRoy, a professor of law and of labor and employment relations at Illinois.

"College football players participate in an invisible labor market, meaning that the NCAA monopolizes their services by strictly limiting and allocating the labor force needed to play competitive games," he said. "So without a credible threat of unionization by student-athletes, the NCAA has no reason to confront the fact that it is professionalizing college football."

Although the NCAA's contractual relationship with student-athletes provide grant-in-aid scholarships, it's also a model premised on the belief that players are amateurs - a view that's hard to square with the heavy commercialization of NCAA football, including a new championship series that will generate a new and immense revenue stream, LeRoy says.

"While schools reap billions of dollars from TV and licensing agreements, championship tournaments, bowl games and ticket sales, players rarely receive enough aid to pay in full the cost of attending school," he said. "And when TV deals coordinate NCAA and NFL schedules from August through January to minimize competition and maximize revenues, it is also hard not to conclude that Division I college football players are in the same product market as their professional counterparts."

While the NCAA recently attempted to adopt reforms that would address some of the problems identified in LeRoy's study, its board of trustees ultimately quashed any efforts to implement change.

"What that means is that players have no voice in their welfare," LeRoy said. "These Saturday heroes are solely dependent on a monopoly to enact regulations for their welfare. This is the impetus for proposing collective bargaining for college football players."

According to the study, college football players have a right to collective bargaining because they function like employees.

"Student-athletes generate great wealth for institutions but share in very little of it," LeRoy said. "Additionally, they are subject to non-negotiable, one-sided agreements imposed by a monopoly. They receive less than a four-year scholarship; pay out-of-pocket or borrow money for scholarship shortfalls; and are penalized for transferring to other schools. They also happen to play in a violent sport that causes serious injury - on rare occasions, death - but are usually disqualified from worker's compensation and are uninsured for long-term medical disabilities. And, of course, many student-athletes exhaust their eligibility without earning a degree."

LeRoy's study proposes a unique and limited form of collective bargaining customized for college football, one that does not involve wage negotiations or strikes, but draws from existing labor laws for public safety employees that prohibit strikes but allow final offer arbitration on a limited range of bargaining subjects.

"My concept stems from the fact that NCAA football differs significantly from the NFL model because college football players are bona fide student-athletes who must adhere to the tenets of amateurism," he said.

According to the study, the mere threat of college football player unionizing would produce a "union substitution effect," whereby employers respond to credible threats of collective action by providing participants with more of a say in their interests and better financial treatment.

"The status quo is ripe for change because the NCAA is an immense monopoly that generates new revenue quickly but reforms itself slowly," he said. "An invisible union is a plausible middle-ground approach to address the interests of student-athletes. Without a credible threat of unionization, schools have little incentive to concede that they are essentially professionalizing college football."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "NCAA football exploits players in 'invisible labor market', expert says." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120823143845.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2012, August 23). NCAA football exploits players in 'invisible labor market', expert says. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120823143845.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "NCAA football exploits players in 'invisible labor market', expert says." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120823143845.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus

Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus

AP (July 30, 2014) Scientists in Texas are studying the Ebola virus, which has killed more than 670 people across West Africa this year. Right now, the disease has no vaccine and no specific treatment, with a fatality rate of at least 60 percent. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins