OFFSIDES: NLRB Punts on Whether College Football Players Can Unionize

Last year, in what was lauded as a potentially game changing decision (pun intended), Peter Sung Ohr, the Regional Director of Region 13 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or Board) ruled that the grant-in-aid scholarship football players at Northwestern University were “employees” of the university within the meaning of Section 2(3) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and were entitled to seek union representation for the purpose of collective bargaining. The unprecedented ruling was quickly appealed by Northwestern, who argued that the Regional Director’s decision undermined the very premise of collegiate varsity sports and ignored the necessary distinction between amateur and professional sports. Northwestern emphasized that the Regional Director’s decision did not give proper weight to the public policy ramifications and practical consequences of classifying college athletes as “employees” under the NLRA. (Read more.)