Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Game Is About to Change - II

Thank you to all who responded (via e-mail and some open discussion) and I’ve apparently found a topic that everyone has a pretty strong opinion on.  And I want to clear the air on a couple of things that I believe, before I get to the more intelligent (and less intelligent) salient points that people brought to my attention:

I am NOT PRO-UNION!!!  I never said I was for unions!!!  (Fergodsakes….You people read WAY too much into my comments!!!) In fact, the Federal Judge only ruled that the players (football) at NWU are in fact, employees….THAT’S IT!!!  But that ruling gives the players the right to unionize, if they so choose.  That’s all I was stating and I was trying to convey that this is actually a good thing for players…But there isn’t a union yet....
Whatever the case may be and however the players end up going about protecting their rights or getting what they have coming to them, I’m about as right-winged and anti-union as they come.  (Actually, I’m more Libertarian the older Iget – Go ahead, Take the 10 Question Test!)

The problem I have with the “system” is stated in the original post.  Today’s student athlete is so restricted by the rules laid down by the NCAA (which each D1 school is a part of) that they can’t even hold a dishwashing job in the dorm if they are on scholarship.  A student who is on a full-ride ACADEMIC scholarship can hold down a part time job, and they can work in THEIR FIELD OF STUDY and make money before they graduate!!!!  IF you are preaching that you are in support of fairness without unions, how does this sit with you?  My argument has been that if a student athlete can make money signing his autograph for 5 hours on a summer Saturday and he/she can make $5,000 doing it….LET THEM!!!!  That’s what I’m trying to get across.  This would not affect the universities revenue stream and the athlete is earning money on his own!!!  The union is the players’ only option at this point and the only leverage they have if this huge injustice is ever going to get addressed. 
No, I don’t want to see players “Going on Strike” at noon right before kick-off and having a sit-in on the 50 yard line while 100K fans and TV audiences sit there steaming – in fact, your MMQ suggested that exact thing happening awhile ago….But, I asked you then and I’ll repeat the question, what EXACTLY is keeping the student athletes from doing that today?  They don’t need a “union” to strike.  Nope….They are free to sit their collective heinies down on that field today if they so choose.

In short, NO – I DON’T WANT to see players in the NCAA unionized or playing under union rules!  To the person that asked if there was going to be coffee breaks during the 2 minute drill…really?  I’m trying to keep this serious…to a certain extent and that would really screw up the game.  And it’s not going to go anywhere near that far if cooler heads prevail and look at this thing reasonably.  Not only that, public universities will each be subject to the union rules of their state, so it’s moot as to how all this impacts them, anyway.
But The Students Aren’t Employees!!!:  To the person that e-mailed me this….That’s kind of what the judge ruled on and the judge disagreed with you.  The student athletes ARE in fact employees and they are “working” 50-60 hours or so per week in their endeavor and in fact are indirectly/directly generating revenue (huge amounts of revenue) for the university.  So, to your comment I can only say that you have been over-ruled by a federal judge.  I’m not saying he’s right…but he is a Federal Judge.  Please re-think that through for a minute and respond with a better comment – question to what it is you mean…exactly. 

TITLE IX:  Someone stated to me that if “money is given to the men’s varsity student athletes, it has to be given to the women’s varsity student athletes.  That’s what Title IX dictates.”  No argument – you’re right and that’s federal law.  However, not to put tooooo fine a point on it, there’s two interesting points in that statement you just made.
1.    Title IX dictates based on the fact that you are treating them like “Student Athletes”.  And the federal judge just ruled that football players are now “EMPLOYEES”.  So, what does that do to Title IX?  Is football and men’s basketball now a different entity because they are employees and not student athletes?  Is EVERYONE that is a student athlete now an employee and is Title IX toast?  All good questions…

2.    But, and this is the one point of power that University Athletic Departments will have left (and it’s really where the rubber hits the road), if the day comes when the “revenue generating athletes” are able to get additional money from the system, something will have to give.  And what happens across the country in every athletic program that exists is when the budget comes up short, programs get cut.  So, if the women’s crew team comes to the table filing a “friend of the court” brief stating that Title IX means they also get the same stipend as the men’s football and basketball team, if I am the AD, I will simply say, “Okay, ladies – Welcome to the Women’s Crew CLUB.  In other words, women’s and men’s non-revenue generating varsity sports programs will get cut to make ends meet.  It’s that simple and it happens all the time.  While I attended Michigan, they cut several Men’s programs that they simply could no longer afford to keep around or balance out with women’s programs.  So, go ahead and play your Title IX card, but it’s not gonna’ fly very long and you can kiss that scholarship and all the money associated with it good-bye.  Or, if your sport chooses to, you can forego the stipend and keep your sport.  Your call.
Full Cost of Scholarship:  To the person who responded with this and that it should solve a lot of the problems, yes, I also think this is inevitable and it will come to fruition.  For those that are not clear on this subject, read the article linked here. 
If you don’t want to read it, a quick summary is in order.  The NCAA more or less dictates what a “Full Ride Scholarship” is for any school that is participating in D1 sports.  They do an average and in the spirit of “Fairness”, they dictate that $30,000 annually is the amount that you can “give” to a student athlete in the form of tuition, books, room and board, etc.  I hope everyone can see the problem and quickly realize that not every university is going to have the same costs of education, room & board, etc.  So some schools have “extra” to give, where other schools (mostly the big boys) have to figure out creative ways to get student athletes money to “close the gap”.  Many of the Big 6 conferences have argued for full cost of scholarship and I think it’s going to happen sooner rather than later and yes, it will create a disadvantage for smaller schools, but also help the student athlete at larger schools.  But it still doesn’t completely address my concern regarding the student athlete’s freedom to make money outside of the university in his or he particular field of expertise.
That’s really the core of my issue.  Yes, I do think the university should protect the welfare of the student athlete and the case of severe injury, as someone else brought up and that’s the main reason in the Northwestern case:  The lifetime cost coverage of the individual that suffered the injury.  That should be something as simple as setting up an insurance policy for the collective group of athletes or by class or something that would trigger if symptoms or disabilities occur later in life.  There’s enough insurance guys around to figure it out and calculate a reasonable premium on a policy that all D1 schools pay into.  I’m actually a little shocked and disappointed that this already hasn’t happened.

What I really want to see is athlete’s to be given the freedom to work either inside or outside their field of expertise and make whatever money they can make – JUST LIKE ANY OTHER STUDENT ON SCHOLARSHIP OR OTHERWISE in good standing at the university! 
There’s a study that showed that D-Rob’s likeness, jersey, etc., made the University of Michigan almost $4M over the 4 years that D-Rob played there.  How much of that money do you think D-Rob saw?  (IF that is in fact the accurate number....I question the amount to a degree...)

Yes, that’s correct.  $0.
Is that fair?  Is it right? 

You tell me.

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