Unionizing Will Teach College Athletes the Law of Unintended Consequences

Economics guy Jeff Carter tells college athletes who want to unionize, “Be careful what you wish for”:

Athletes see dollar signs in their eyes.  But the reality will be much different.  Once the dollars are spread across an entire athletic program, they will be far less than what they think.  Why should a football player make more than a women’s crew team member?  Aren’t they both athletes sacrificing for their school?  Are we going to pay women the same as men?  Are we going to discriminate?

If I were a top name player, like Johnny Manziel, my earning power is far greater than anyone else on my team.  Why should I share that earning power with the rest of the team?  Should a kid that never plays a down be paid the same as a star?

For sure, colleges will end scholarships.  Now, instead of getting all those resources for free, colleges would will charge athletes.  Charge for room, board, tuition and books-but they might charge for the use of the practice facility too.  If I was an athlete, the cost of attending different schools would weigh heavily on my decision.

As soon as athletes start getting paid, there will be someone else that wants to get paid.  The government.  Right now, scholarships aren’t taxed.   Players don’t pay state and local taxes. Once they get paid, why should they be different than pro athletes?  They will have to pay taxes in the state they reside and will have to file income tax returns in every state they play a game.  That includes bowl games and playoff games.  These sorts of tax filings will require hiring an expensive accountant to total up the damage, and do it right so they don’t get audited.  There will be a lot of ancillary costs coming their way that athletes haven’t figured into the equation.

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