Professor Michael LeRoy will publish “COVID-19 Protocols for NCAA Football and the NFL: Does Collective Bargaining Produce Safer Conditions for Players?” in Utah Law Review (Fall 2021). A summary of the article follows:
My study surveyed all NCAA football programs in Power 5 conferences during the 2020 season to compare their COVID-19 safety protocols to those in the NFL-NFLPA labor agreement. College protocols lacked input from a player’s union. In contrast, the NFL and their players collectively bargained a 72-page agreement for COVID-19 protocols. Policies from 19 college football programs fell far short of NFL-NFLPA standards, scoring 10-30 points out of the 45 safety points in the NFL labor agreement. College policies were strongest for symptom checking and cardiac evaluations. However, most college policies failed to identify players with individual risk factors and provide them extra medical monitoring; and no college policy reported using location-tracking technology for contact tracing. The NFLPA also had a whistleblower hotline to report noncompliance with the labor agreement, but college policies had nothing like this. I conclude that collective bargaining provided NFL football players superior safeguards compared to those for college players. Like unionized construction firms, which have better safety records than nonunion firms, the NFL is safer than the NCAA for football players because of collectively bargained practices. This study adds support for treating college players as employees, rather than amateurs, because employment is necessary to form a union.
Read the full article.