A regional director for the National Labor Relations Board last week ruled that football players at Northwestern were "employees" and could therefore form a union. To some, the ruling was not a step toward a more equitable system, but a dangerous, unnecessary precedent.
To wit, Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins argued in a Sunday op-ed that the issue hinges on the "specious premise" that college athletes are "exploited and aggrieved" in the first place. Right from the outset then, her whole argument is total bunk.
You can quibble all you want about whether student athletes are exploited, but there is no question a bunch of them are "aggrieved." The mere fact that Northwestern players are pursuing the issue so stridently is proof of that. And then there's the class-action lawsuit filed by former UCLA hoops star Ed O'Bannon, who is challenging the NCAA's ban on compensating athletes. So yes, I'd say that settles the "aggrieved" question.
Yet you may not have even made it that far into the article after stumbling over its first, puzzling line:
It's hard to view Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter as the Che Guevara of college sports once you learn that he interned at Goldman Sachs. [Washington Post]
I don't even know where to begin. Is Jenkins arguing that financial internships preclude you from joining a union? Is she forgetting that Guevara was a medical student before he became a revolutionary? And is it really apt to liken literal revolution to college football?
To her credit, Jenkins raises many legitimate questions about student-athlete unionization, such as whether members would pay dues, and who all could join. But to simply throw up your hands and declare, "It's not looking out for college athletes to open the Pandora's box of employment and unionization," as Jenkins does, is a lazy attempt to ignore the problem. College athlete unionization will of course be problematic. It will of course raise thorny questions, experience hiccups, and need to be fine-tuned. But just because it will be a difficult process doesn't mean it isn't worth pursuing, especially since it would end an exploitative system that is at best cabalistic, and at worst racist.
It's not looking out for college athletes to dismiss their grievances simply because you don't know how to resolve them. Jon Terbush
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) formally launched his presidential candidacy Saturday in a Baltimore speech.
"I declare that I am a candidate for president of the United States and I am running for you," he told a crowd of supporters with his family by his side.
O'Malley spoke of striving to work toward economic, racial, marriage, and gender inequality. He'll face off against Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and likely former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee for the Democratic nomination. Julie Kliegman
The Tampa Bay Lightning bought a ticket to the Stanley Cup final with a 2-0 win over the New York Rangers in Game 7 on Friday night. After a scoreless 40 minutes in Madison Square Garden, Alex Killorn and Ondrej Palat each notched a goal.
The Lightning will face the winner of tonight's Game 7 matchup between the Anaheim Ducks and the Chicago Blackhawks. The Stanley Cup finals begin June 3. Julie Kliegman
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Friday he's "shocked and saddened" by the allegations against former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), the Associated Press reports. A federal grand jury indicted Hastert on Thursday for allegedly evading currency reporting requirements and lying to the FBI.
Sources told the Los Angeles Times the former teacher and wrestling coach has paid $1.7 million to a former male student over the last four years to conceal sexual abuse against that man. Julie Kliegman
Come Monday, the city of Paris will begin removing the hundreds of thousands of "love locks" tourists affix to the Pont des Arts bridge, The Local reports. Visitors might think it's cute, but for locals, the locks are an eyesore and a nuisance.
"This phenomenon generates two problems: a lasting degradation of the heritage of Paris and also a risk to the safety of visitors, Parisians and tourists," a Paris Town Hall statement read.
The city will install glass panels in place of the locks. Last year, a portion of the bridge collapsed under the weight of the locks, which also adorn other bridges throughout the city and even the Eiffel tower. Julie Kliegman
As part of our ongoing series on the 2016 candidates, produced in partnership with Rubin Report, The Week's Marc Ambinder and Dave Rubin concisely analyze the former Maryland governor's biggest strengths and weaknesses. Watch below:
Every nail salon in New York will be required to post a workers' bill of rights in plain view of employees and customers, The New York Times reports. The announcement comes after the newspaper highlighted widespread exploitation and abuse of manicurists, many of whom are new immigrants.
The posters Gov. Andrew Cuomo revealed Friday will be printed in 10 languages. They include information about minimum wage, tipping, safety measures, and a phone number to report violations. Officials will also hand out information cards to consumers outlining questions they should ask upon entering nail salons.
"We’re asking New Yorkers to help; we're asking New Yorkers to get involved," Cuomo said at a news conference with New York City advocate Letitia James. Julie Kliegman
Empire's first season aired its finale in March, and fans have been eagerly waiting to find out when they'll finally get to see all those dangling cliffhangers resolved.
Unfortunately, the season two premiere date is still pretty far away — but at last you can put it down on your calendar. Taraji P. Henson, who plays Cookie, took to Twitter to reveal that Empire will return on September 23. Set your DVRs accordingly. Scott Meslow