Northwestern University’s football is in a position to make history. The team recently won the right to vote on April 25 whether to form a union, a first in big time college football. But it’s clear that the university, and the world of Division 1 college football in general, is definitely not on their side.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Northwestern’s football coach Pat Fitzgerald told the media over the weekend that he doesn’t believe that his players should unionize.
“I believe it’s in their best interests to vote no,” Fitzgerald told CNN over the weekend. “With the research that I’ve done, I’m going to stick to the facts and I’m going to do everything in my power to educate our guys. Our university is going to do that, to give them all the resources that they need to get the facts.”
News reports over the weekend said that the team is split 50/50 on the decision to unionize.
Things aren’t looking great for the unionizing effort. That led Kevin Trahan over at SB Nation to wonder what would happen if the players don’t vote for the union. Would the effort to unionize college football players die if it fails at Northwestern?
Probably not. It might be dead at Northwestern, because the players would have to wait a full year to try to unionize again. However, [Northwestern football player] Ramogi Huma said he has been contacted by players at other schools who are interested in unionizing, and players at schools such as Georgia, Georgia Tech, and Miami have showed support along the way, so it’s going to happen somewhere.
The fact that unionizing college football players is being discussed at all is a victory of sorts, but it’s worth recognizing the tremendous odds that are stacked up against these players.