Pelosi Evasive on Support for Paid, Unionized Amateur Athletes

Mar 27, 2014 2:26pm

GTY nancy pelosi affordable care act sk 131205 16x9 608 Pelosi Evasive on Support for Paid, Unionized Amateur Athletes

Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi refused to say today whether she believes college athletes should be paid and able to unionize.

Pelosi, who regularly sings praise for professional athletes competing in the National Football League, Major League Baseball and even yacht racers sailing through the San Francisco Bay, admitted she doesn’t have a good enough grasp of the details to issue an opinion.

“This is obviously so new,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said during a news conference in the Capitol, admitting she had just read about the decision today.

“I just have to see. I do think that the players should be respected and not exploited, and whatever use there is of the celebrity of a successful player or the work that they have to put in to be so good be respected.”

On Wednesday, the Chicago district of the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Northwestern football players qualify as employees of the university and may unionize — paving the way for those athletes to get paid. Northwestern University has announced it will appeal the decision to the full NRLB board in Washington, DC.

Pelosi said she was “surprised” as she read the news, but is “curious to learn” more before potentially endorsing financial compensation for amateur athletes.

“I’m really not, shall we say, conversant enough as to the particulars,” she said. “I would hope that the NCAA and the athletes and everybody else treat each other with a level of respect for what each of them brings to — brings to the table.”

Pelosi said she watched a segment Wednesday evening on the Colbert Report about a 2-year-old soccer player in Europe who was signed to a contract because he has good foot coordination.

“He’s two, so when would he start playing?” Pelosi wondered in amazement.

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner did not know whether the speaker had formed an opinion on the subject either.

Boehner left Washington earlier today for an extended campaign swing through the southwest.

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