Collective action is commonly defined as, “Any action taken together by a group of people whose goal is to enhance their status and achieve a common objective.”
College sports are often more popular then professional sports in America, and have gained tremendous respect due to the student-athletes participating on them. Student athletes play for their team. In an excerpt from Bo Schembechler’s famous “The Team” speech, he said, “You can go into professional football, you can go anywhere you want to play after you leave here. You will never play for a Team again. You’ll play for a contract. You’ll play for this. You’ll play for that. You’ll play for everything except the team, and think what a great thing it is to be a part of something that is, The Team.” Bo is very right. College athletes play for their school and their team—not money, not a contract, not fame.
Last winter, Student athletes at Northwestern University have taken a bold stance, asking to be represented by a labor union. Northwestern football players, who are pushing to be thought of as “employees” rather than “student-athletes.” This push started with Northwestern quarterback, Kain Colter. He and many of his teammates believe that college athletes deserve and equal voice when it comes to their protections, whether it be physically, academically, or financially. Colter made it very clear that this movement is not due to any particular mistreatment at Northwestern, “We love Northwestern. The school is just playing by the rules of their governing body, the NCAA. We’re interested in trying to help all players — at USC, Stanford, Oklahoma State, everywhere. It’s about protecting them and future generations to come.”
Walter Hobbes had a rather simple solution to collective action problems. Hobbes believed that you should seek peace, and follow it. In Hobbes’ excerpt about the fool, he said to break the covenant, because there really is no reason not to break the covenant if it’s in your best interest. However, it sometimes does make sense to do those things that are in a covenant. With the current NCAA agreements and rules, student-athletes are often not protected as much as they should be—especially football players, physically. “It’s become clear that relying on the NCAA policymakers won’t work, that they are never going to protect college athletes, and you can see that with their actions over the past decade. Look at their position on concussions.” Ramogi Huma, NCPA president, clearly sees the points being made by the Northwestern football players.
Depending on your view, the NCAA could be seen as the fool, but so could the student-athletes fighting for change. Whatever your view may be, Hobbes believes that both parties of the argument should seek and follow peace. Kain Colter and his teammates are still fighting for athlete representation to improve the conditions that they play under in the NCAA.