COLLEGE FOOTBALL IS BACK is the exclamatory phrase of college football fans across the country.
The sport is pure.
They are playing for the love of the game.
School and regional pride is beaming like sun off the stadium grass morning dew.
Strike up the grill! It’s time to day drink and tailgate.
It’s Labor Day weekend, and the smell of autumn and pigskin is in the air.
You could bottle and sell the enthusiasm for college football as the hours wind down to kick off.
Not so fast painted faced warrior.
There are 4 reasons college football fans’ enthusiasm should turn into a third of a cup of warm beer:
1. College football players still cannot collectively bargain.
Northwestern football players were able to secure a temporary victory when they won the right to unionize last March. Getting the right to unionize meant players could collective bargain for better rules regarding their safety, working hours, the contracts they sign in order to play (National Letter of Intent), potential compensation, transfer rules (redshirting), potential revenue sharing, arbitration, offseason workouts, termination pay, medical care, team discipline, benefits, insurance and a litany of other issues currently not adequately addressed by the current NCAA model.
The full board decided to decline jurisdiction of the matter in a very faulty decision on August 17, just a couple of weeks before the football season was set to begin. The NLRB did not want to upset the structure of the current system. Sounds like some fans were on the bench.
There were plenty of hurdles before unionizing would have began in earnest, but it was a significant blow that concussed the mission of college athletes to be recognized as employees.
College football players not having the ability to protect themselves on and off the field should concern you as a fan. This isn’t gladiators in a Roman coliseum.
2. College football players still are not being paid for the use of their names and likenesses.
Ed O’Bannon was a lefty who took NCAA to task for using his name, image, and likeness long after he finished playing. After a protracted fight, a consolidation of cases won the right for college players to be paid by NCAA member institutions using their name and likenesses. Deferred payments of $5,000 were set to begin in the 2016-17 season. Instead, the court ordered for those payments to be stayed until the case reaches a final conclusion.
The court punted the ruling just as NLRB did.
Every Saturday you’re going to wear nameless jerseys with a number on the back, knowing exactly who the player is. You’re going to see the marquee promo on television, not advertising just school versus school, but star player versus star player. You’re going to see giant banners around with players in various action poses. You might even get a bobblehead doll or a fathead.
And the player is getting not one dime, while the school through it’s licensing relationship, gets millions.
But you’re okay with that, they’re just doing it for the love of the game!
3. College scholarships are minimum wage to many players.
When NLRB decided not to take jurisdiction, their excuse was pointing players the ability to sue in antitrust against the NCAA and its member schools.
In the suit, Kessler alleges the NCAA has colluded against college football players by limiting the amount they receive for playing to merely grant in aid scholarships, room, board, and textbooks.
The star quarterback is getting paid the same as the second string fullback.
Not a capitalistic system the suit essentially alleges.
No decision has been made in the suit, but the Power 5 conferences gaining autonomy to govern themselves was definitely a response. Part of that autonomy may include adding stipends to cost of attendance as well as concussions and other ancillary benefits.
The benefits would be the same for each player.
Football is a game of inches.
In this case, paying each player the same $2,000 benefit is an inch where the payment structure should be yards down the field.
But the hot dogs cost too much at the stadium, so why should you care about paying these guys? Isn’t that why you love college sports? These guys aren’t getting paid right? You get to feel some measure of superiority over them. You’re spending your hard earned cash to watch them play.
4. College football players are still playing without a concussion settlement
The NFL has a $765 million settlement still being sorted out. NCAA has a significantly larger number of players. Their settlement number is $70 million.
The deal has been rejected, and the case is in limbo.
Wow! Did you see that hit! That guy got rocked!
Yes, we did, but there isn’t a tougher concussion-management and return-to-play guideline, medical monitoring fund, any set asides dedicated to concussion research or treatment that could result from a final settlement or ruling.
However, you’re not only comfortable watching but actually enjoying it.
College football is back. Along with the excitement of enjoying the sport comes with a willful ignorance college players do not have the right to collectively bargain for their rights, are undercompensated labor, are not able to be paid for the use of their name, image and likeness, and are not adequately compensated or protected in a dangerous sport where many players suffer traumatic brain injury.
Is that beer warm enough for you yet?
Exavier B. Pope I, Esq. is an award winning attorney, on air legal analyst, media personality, and Fortune 500 speaker. Mr. Pope has over 200+ appearances on air, including: international television on BBC and Al Jazeera English; national television on Fox News Channel, HLN, NBC Nightly News, Al Jazeera America, WGN Morning News, Fox Business Channel, and Huff Post Live; Top 3 Local Media Markets on Fox, CBS, and NBC; international radio on BBC Radio; national radio on ESPN Radio, Clear Channel Radio, NBC Sports Radio; contributed digitally to CNBC, Huffington Post, Jet, and Black Enterprise; and has appeared in other media outlets nationally and internationally. Mr. Pope is represented by top media and literary agency RLR Associates. All opinions expressed are those solely of Mr. Pope.
© 2015, Exavier B. Pope I, Esq.
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