Ruling: Dartmouth Men's Basketball Can Unionize

    Ruling: Dartmouth Men's Basketball Can Unionize
    Photo: Mitchell Layton/Contributor/Getty Images Sport via Getty Images (2021)

    The Facts

    • A regional official from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled Monday that players on the Dartmouth College men’s basketball team have the right to unionize as employees of the school, setting up an election to create the first-ever labor union for NCAA athletes.

    • NLRB Regional Director Laura Sacks explained in a written statement that since "Dartmouth has the right to control the work performed" by its basketball team, and the players work in exchange for compensation, the "players are employees within the meaning of the (National Labor Relations) Act."


    The Spin

    Narrative A

    This is a major victory for labor justice and student-athletes who work tirelessly for their schools' programs, generating revenue without receiving compensation. The emergence of recent labor deals allows some athletes to earn money, but most NCAA athletes don't have a big enough following to do the same. Hopefully, a unionized Dartmouth basketball team will set a path for other programs to follow.

    Narrative B

    This decision could spell the end of the NCAA and college sports as we know them. These deals might not appropriately reward non-star players, but a broad interpretation of this ruling could mean that non-revenue sports teams could unionize and demand wages. This is a Pandora's box that shouldn't be opened.

    Nerd narrative

    There is a 50% chance that at least 12% of American workers will be represented by a labor union in 2030, according to the Metaculus prediction community.


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