Some weekends, the stories just seem to write themselves. You probably heard by now that the National Labor Relations Board (NRLB), in their infinite wisdom, put the stamp of approval on college football players being treated as full time employees with the right to unionize. Well, I suppose everything comes with a few unintended consequences, as reported by Rare.
Northwestern University became the first school in the nation to deem its football players full-time employees, thus making them eligible for union representation and health insurance benefits including maternity coverage.
On Wednesday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 13 director Peter Sung Ohr approved the players as employees of the school based on four prerequisite clauses. The team will now have the opportunity to vote on whether they want to unionize and join the College Athletes Players Association, according to Sports Blog Nation.
The kicker is that under Obamacare, the Evanston, Ill.-based team, comprised of more than 50 “employees,” is considered a “large employer” and Northwestern must provide pregnancy-related health care for the all-male team.
This is just fabulous. Of course, we probably should have anticipated that things like this would begin cropping up the moment we decided to take college students and transfer their status to that of employee because the college might be profiting from their activities. Sally Jenkins approaches the question from the 10,000 foot level.
Colter and his peers aren’t laborers due compensation; they are highly privileged scholarship winners who get a lot of valuable stuff for free. This includes first-rate training in the habits of high achievement, cool gear, unlimited academic tutoring for gratis and world-class medical care that no one else has access to. All of which was put into perspective by Michigan State basketball Coach Tim Izzo when he was asked about the ruling at the NCAA tournament East Region semifinals in New York.
“I think sometimes we take rights to a whole new level,” Izzo said. “ . . . I think there’s a process in rights. And you earn that. We always try to speed the process up. I said to my guys, ‘There’s a reason you have to be 35 to be president.’ That’s the way I look at it.”
Other questions remain to be answered. If the field hockey team has less than fifty players, does that make them a small business? If so, they may already qualify for some sort of exemption or mandate delay from Barack Obama. (Or, if not, one should be coming along shortly.) But the field hockey team doesn’t generate any money, so maybe that makes them a non-profit corporation. In that case, the IRS should be checking into their status shortly and denying them a needed classification. And what of the cheerleaders? They’re probably as much a part of the “team” as anyone else out there, and they are almost entirely women. Sure, they might be able to use the Obamacare maternity services a bit more, but now we have to discuss the unpleasant fact that cheerleaders are making WAY less than 77 cents on the dollar compared to the male players when they both reach the NFL.
The NLRB has certainly woven a tangled web here. None of it, however, can possibly explain how the Jets wound up signing Michael Vick. But that’s a subject for Ed and I to debate next September.