Which Happens First: Paid College Athletes, Or A Union For Wrestlers?

Some four and a half years ago, I did a piece on whether London or Las Vegas would be the first team to get a North American pro sports franchise – a battle Las Vegas wound up winning.

Now, as the end of the 2010’s is less than nine months away, it seems we have another question. What will happen first, college athletes getting paid in some form, or professional wrestling (namely the WWE) forming some sort of union or acting guild?

The John Oliver piece on HBO seemed to be a veiled shot at President Trump through his good friend in Vince McMahon – but it raised some excellent points. How does every other sport or form of entertainment have some sort of union, guild, or health care system – and the WWE, which made close to a billion dollars last year, does not?

In the era of wrestling I grew up in a couple of generations ago, when you had various regional outlets and not a global circuit – it made plenty of sense not to have unions. The unions and health care the wrestlers would need to be in top-notch physical condition would have bankrupted most of the smaller organizations. Even as late as the turn of the milenia, groups like WCW and the then-WWF would run some pay-per-views in towns like Mobile or Biloxi as opposed to bigger cities to cut down costs. In other words, to avoid union influence.

Ditto for college sports. I barely watch college basketball anymore because the length of the MLB and NFL seasons have swallowed up the time I can watch it. A lot of these athletes in the colleges bust their asses off with no shot of making it professionally. Video games and other marketeers out there use the likenesses of the players free of charge – so it’s time they (the college athletes) got paid as well.

Congress is pushing legislation to subsidize college athletics – but the push John Oliver made for unionizing wrestling might make this a closer call than you’d think.

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