For the first time in the history of college sports, athletes are asking to be represented by a labor union, taking formal steps on Tuesday to begin the process of being recognized as employees. Ramogi Huma, president of the National College Players Association, filed a petition in Chicago on behalf of football players at Northwestern University, submitting the form at the regional office of the National Labor Relations Board. Backed by the United Steelworkers union, Huma also filed union cards signed by an undisclosed number of Northwestern players with the NLRB -- the federal statutory body that recognizes groups that seek collective bargaining rights. ESPN's "Outside The Lines" first broke the story. "This is about finally giving college athletes a seat at the table," said Huma, a former UCLA linebacker who created the NCPA as an advocacy group in 2001. "Athletes deserve an equal voice when it comes to their physical, academic and financial protections."