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Economist to NLRB: College football a lot like the NFL, but with no pay

The second day of hearings at the National Labor Relations Board over whether Northwestern players can form a union continued and was highlighted by an economist who compared the college game to the NFL.

“The difference would be ... the NFL pays their players,” Southern Utah University sports economist David Berri testified to the NLRB. Since colleges don’t pay their football players, it likely boosts their profits, he added.

The hearing is to determine whether Wildcats’ football players can be recognized under U.S. law as employees, which would pave the way for them to unionize. Northwestern, the Big Ten and NCAA are all fighting the movement, claiming the player are student-athletes rather than employees.

Berri didn’t hold back in his indictment of the current system.

“There is an economic definition of the word ‘exploitation,’” he responded. “A worker is exploited ... if their economic value is greater than their wages. ... By that definition, they are exploited.”

Given the current union-friendly makeup of the NLRB, don’t be surprised if Northwestern is given the right to unionize.

And then all bets will be off with regards to the future of college football.