Recreation and Sport Studies

Studying, Experiencing and Facilitating Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport through Wellness and Physical Activity

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$tudent-athletes, $pectacle & $ustainability: Case study of the NCAA

It is increasingly apprarent that the sustainability of university athletics in the United States is a problem. According to this article, US colleges are spending 7 times more on athletics than academics. This is compounded by questions of how to fund the NCAA as spectacle, most specifically in terms of football and men’s basketball.


Compounding the economic issue is a philosophical one about the role of athletics within broader mission of higher education, especially if it is a case of:


Finally, the issues facing the future of the NCAA are relevant to Canadian education institutions and athletes, as we often compare approaches in a variety of inititatives.



Amateurism vs. Professionalism in University Athletics: A case study of Northwestern University

A group of football players from Northwestern University, based in Evanston, Illinois, are lobbying for the right to form a labour union.  The players took their case to the National Labour Relations Board (NLRB) who ruled on March 26th that football players receiving scholarships to attend Northwestern University are to be considered employees of the educational institution.   Peter Ohr, regional director for the NLRB in Chicago, was the one who made the official ruling.  The union still has not officially formed, the University has said that they plan on appealing the decision and there is also still the need for scholarship receiving players to vote on the matter.  If the vote passes the group of players will forthwith be represented by the College Athletes Players Association (CAPA).


The players’ desire to unionize stems from the fact that top-level college athletics is a multi-billion dollar industry and the players are not receiving their fair share of the profits.  One former players claims that players dedicate 40-50 hours a week to training, practicing and playing.  This substantial time commitment limits the players’ ability to allocate enough time to their studies.  One player was quoted as saying that the amount of time that football took up kept him from applying to pre-med school.  The players would like to create a trust fund which would help pay for students to finish their degrees after their sports careers and to help fund larger scholarships.  Another argument from the players is that they sacrifice their bodies for the sake of the team.  Football is a sport in which the participants are susceptible to serious injuries.  These injuries will always have short-term effects but sometimes they can cause long-term problems for athletes; e.g. improper brain functioning as a result of concussions.  The trust fund would also help current and former players with sports-related medical fees.


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