Historic Vote at Northwestern Will Have Huge Impact
Because the National Labor Relations Board has accepted Northwestern University's appeal to the football players' union vote, it might be several months before we know the results of the vote. The vote results have been sealed and won't be counted until the appeal is heard.
What we do know is that even if the players voted against creating a union, there will undoubtedly be a huge impact on the future landscape of college sports. If the players decide to unionize, universities and the National Collegiate Athletic Association will be forced to make changes that may be costly to their wallets but improve the health of players.
If the players decide against unionizing it still doesn't close the door on the possibility and the threat alone might force the NCAA to do a better job of insuring players and allowing them to leave without penalty. The most important part is that regardless of major injuries, athletes would not to lose their scholarships-- allowing them to finish their degrees and make a living outside of football.
Either way you look at it, I do believe that this vote will lead to the improvement of student-athletes' quality of life. Less physical practices, better healtcare, and ensuring more athletes can graduate. While I don't foresee players getting paid to play, I do see the NCAA changing the rules to allow players to earn some kind of living to improve their financial situation and not have to take money from boosters or agents to buy a pair of shoes or a shirt they want.
Because the NCAA has become a mutli-billion dollar machine, it is growing increasingly harder to view the arcane rules that exist as fair to student-athletes. Universities don't offer full four-year scholarships, but only offer them on year-to-year basis. This leads to thousands of athletes that never finish college and end up back in the tough neighborhoods they were recruited out of. I believe the possible existence of a college athletes union will lead the NCAA to make the necessary changes to their rules and improve to quality of life in all student-athletes-- regardless of gender or sport.