August 2023

The Potential of Unionizing for NCAA and UFC Fighters - Updated

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image: elliotstoller, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Athletes are celebrated modern gladiators

UPDATED: Right after this article was released, an antitrust suit against UFC was officially granted class certification alleging the UFC has abused its market power to suppress fighter pay.

Showcasing their skills and pushing their bodies to the limits for the world's entertainment. However, behind the glamour and fame lies a complex web of exploitation, particularly evident among NCAA athletes and UFC fighters.

related: Dana White Chooses Greed Over Competition by Allowing The Paul Brothers to Continue Exploiting MMA Fighters

As the calls for fair treatment grow louder, the power of unionizing is emerging as a potential game-changer, offering athletes a collective voice to demand transparency, fairness, and a share of the profits they help generate. The truth is, in the corporate world and athletics, the forces against unionizing are just as strong, and a lot more advanced than they may realize.

NCCA Athletes

NCAA athletes have long been the subjects of an ongoing debate about compensation. While their performances fill stadiums and bring in substantial revenue, the athletes themselves often struggle to make ends meet.

The current system prohibits these athletes from earning money from their participation in NCAA athletics despite the NCAA, coaches, and executives amassing riches at the expense of these athletes. The excuses typically revolve around "not enough money to go around" but it simply isn't true.

related: Capitalism for NCAA, Socialism for Athletes: Unveiling the NCAA's Double Standard

Unionizing could provide NCAA athletes with a platform to negotiate for a fair share of the revenue they generate, as well as proper compensation for the revenue they generate for their schools, 3rd parties, and the advertising that generates billions during their events.

related: Profit Over Fairness: The NCAA's Utilization of the Shirky Principle to Exploit Athletes

The UFC Fighter Fight: Seeking Transparency and Equity

In the world of mixed martial arts (MMA), UFC fighters face their own set of challenges. The UFC, while highly lucrative, has often come under scrutiny for the disparities in fighter pay and a lack of transparency. The concept of unionizing among fighters gains significance as it could potentially provide them with a united front to negotiate for better compensation packages, improved healthcare, and a say in decision-making processes. A union could ensure that fighters are not only rewarded fairly but also protected against exploitation and unfair treatment.

Transparency and Revenue Sharing: Catalysts for Change

Unionizing not only amplifies the collective voice of athletes but also facilitates important conversations about transparency and revenue sharing. For NCAA athletes, it means having a seat at the table when discussing how the revenue generated by college sports is distributed. For UFC fighters, it entails negotiating a more equitable distribution of profits between fighters, promoters, and the organization itself. The power of unionizing empowers athletes to challenge the status quo and advocate for a fairer, more just playing field.

related: The NCAA Could Easily Pay Athletes By Accepting Jersey Sponsors

Challenges and Triumphs on the Horizon

While the prospect of unionizing brings hope for a better future for athletes, it is not without its challenges. Establishing a union requires navigating legal complexities and overcoming resistance from governing bodies and organizations.

Most importantly, it requires transparency into value athletes possess and what the direct benefits of any sacrifices required to obtain them could be. It also requires a unified concerted effort able to withstand billionaires challenging them every step of the way.

However, history has shown that when athletes come together, they can enact substantial change. The successful cases of the NFL Players Association and the National Basketball Players Association serve as shining examples of athletes standing up for their rights and reshaping their industries.

Athletes are missing a tangible measurement of their value on an open market, and when this information is available this information will do wonders in assisting them in making informed economic decisions about their future.

The power of unionizing holds immense potential to address the exploitation faced by NCAA athletes and UFC fighters. It offers a platform for these athletes to demand transparency, fair compensation, and a say in matters that directly impact their careers and lives.

As athletes continue to raise their voices and push for change, unionizing could be the catalyst that ushers in a new era of equity, respect, and empowerment in the world of sports.

Issa Hall, Esq

Issa has founded multiple ventures, is an author, and founding partner of Hall & Dixon law firm, with over a decade of experience in tech and law.

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