With the circumstances crying out for change and with the current laws (such as the National Labor Relations Act) not equipped to provide it, the easiest way to force change in college sports is to change the laws.
Via USA Today, multiple Senators have introduced legislation that would create a “bill of rights” for college athletes.
“We have to create a system that clearly the NCAA has not been willing to do on its own,” Senator Corey Booker (D-N.J.) told USA Today. “We’re talking to a lot of athletes who have painful stories. These are courageous young people who right now are speaking out — and often facing retribution for speaking out — about their basic rights. I just really respect these athletes for showing such courage and commitment to the larger issues of equity and justice within college athletics. . . .We are in a situation now because of the activism of athletes and a lot of state leaders saying, ‘Enough is enough — it’s wrong.’ . . .
“This is an opportunity now for the federal government to act, for Congress to act, to make sure that there are certain basic rights that every athlete has, that will protect their health, protect their well-being, that will protect their achievement of an education, and address other issues of exploitation that continue.”
The NCAA has fought for years to avoid the inevitable, running out the clock on a long-overdue reckoning that inevitably will come, clinging to a system that exploits young athletes as long as it can. And so, if the NCAA won’t clean up its backyard on its own, someone else will do it.
“We can’t return to business as usual, where a multi-billion dollar industry lines the pockets of predominately white executives all while majority-Black athletes can’t profit from their labor,” Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said in a statement. “This isn’t radical thinking — it’s just the right thing to do.”
Indeed it is. The system generates too much money for the school from the skills, abilities, and sacrifices of athletes who do not get fair value in return. They want more. They need more. They deserve more.
And it’s not a radical position to say that. If anything, it’s a radical position to oppose it.