Odds and Ends

Plenty of ongoing discussion about the Northwestern football team’s decision to try to form a recognized union entity.

Dave Zirin discusses it here.

Central to the players’ concerns, via Zirin, according to one player posting to Reddit anonymously:

“This isn’t about getting paid. What it is about is protection. Many of us will have numerous injuries throughout our playing careers. A group of those players will continue to feel the effects of those injuries long after their playing days are over. The goal is to have some sort of medical protection if we need surgeries stemming from injuries sustained while playing for our university.… Would it be nice to have some part of jersey sales or memorabilia sales? Absolutely. But that is not the goal as of right now.”

Paul Barrett of Businessweek also weighs in:

This resistance reflects the NCAA’s traditional stance that the only compensation college athletes ought to receive is their degree upon graduation. With college sports now generating upwards of $8 billion a year from television rights, tickets, and licensing fees, the young people whose labor actually makes all that money possible are getting impatient with amateurism rooted in 19th century British ideals.

Finally (for now), John Culhane in Slate. Here’s a summary from Culhane of a 2006 law review artlcle by Robert McCormick and Amy McCormick, “The Myth of the Student-Athlete: The College Athlete as Employee:”

Their findings are a splash of ice water in the face of anyone claiming the players are students first, athletes second. Based on the number of hours spent on the sport (as many as 53 per week), the number of days per year given over to football (262 for those teams in bowl competition; 240 otherwise), and the restrictions placed on their academic choices in service of the sport, the school’s control over the athletes is almost complete. It’s hard to call these men “primarily students.” Colter put the matter simply: He “can’t miss an athletic event to attend class,” but the reverse is routine. And the compensation itself—in the form of scholarships, housing, and meals—enforces the control: no compliance with the rigorous demands, no money.

Obviously, much more to come on this story.

2) Travis Waldron has a long essay on the ongoing fight over Washington’s nickname. Interesting to note that the last team owner to meet with Native American representatives was Edward Bennett Williams in 1971. I find it amazing that neither Jack Kent Cooke, who bought the team in 1974, nor Snyder, who’s owned the team since 1999, even saw fit to have a meeting.

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