Breaking the Law? Northwestern Football Coach Pressures Players Not to Unionize
OT - Dave Zirin on Pat Fitzgerald and NU unionization effort
take from the Nation and an attorney from a nonprofit dedicated to economic and social justice.
Not surprising. But accurate. Fitzgerald's "advice" is totally inappropriate and self-serving. He's a dick.
Perhaps. But the lawyer is claiming the actions might be illegal, not just inappropriate or self-serving.
involved in several Union organizing activities from the "no" perspective. Many times the "company" will cross the line unwittingly.
The key is to make sure eveyone involved uses their First Amendment rights. For example, Pat can say, "I believe by voting in a union will destroy College Football Forever and perhaps the entire universe" or "In my opinion, the Union is run by Satan himself".
He can also say; "If the Union is certified, I will no longer be the HC of NWU. You will get new coach and who knows what type of system he will bring"
The "company" employees and those against unionization can wear T shirts, buttons and other advertisements that say "No Union". This again is a First Amendment right.
He cannot say, "If a Union is certified, I will do XXX to you or the team" or "Dont vote for the union or else I will XXXX to you or others".
I have seen where Union organizers inside the company will take tape recorders and provoke Management into saying "one little thing" that will cause the NLRB to automatically certify the union. So Pat should be careful in what he says but NWU has one of the best Law Schools in the world and I am sure that he has been advised numerous times on what he can and cannot do. I would be surprised if he crossed the line.
BTW: In all 3 of my union organizing situations, all 3 failed to organize. (Just in case you were wondering).
conditions aren't the same, but unions use tactics as well. The workers that want the union use intimidation and physical violence to get their fellow workers to vote yes. "If you vote no or we think you vote no and we win, we will do XXX to you and your family." The more vocally opposed to the union you are, the more you risk retaliation.
I was involved in one union vote while employed as a summer worker. The owner had three separate businesses on the same property. One was union as required for auto industry and aerospace work. Two were not because the products they manufactured were not required to have union work. The union came in and wanted to unionize the company that made products for oil drilling. The owner said: "If you vote yes and the union is certified, I will close down my business and open it at another location". The union won and the business was moved. I went back to school in the fall, but a lot of guys lost their jobs.
I don't know if his actions necessarily reflect his character. Unfortunately, I think he's basically doing his job at this point. Fitzgerald's status as a former player has always been at the forefront of his image and, at least in what we've seen in the press over the last couple of years, made him extremely relatable when it comes to his players. I think this is really a case of him being forced by the university to do their bidding.
It will be interesting to see where unionization heads. Even if this vote fails at Northwestern, I think it's only a matter of time before some school passes it. The proverbial cat has been let out of the bag. It'll be interesting to see how this develops and how it affects the landscape of college sports.
so there's absolutely no way this union idea would be a negative?
Consider, just for a moment, that Fitz actually has his players best interests at heart and believes what he is saying. Apparently that simply can't be true to many of you. Apparently you and others know what the world will look like with unions at schools and it will clearly be a better place for the athletes.
OK put that aside, lets say his comments are "self serving" (put aside the possibility that they could be both self serving and in the interests of the players). It is now inappropriate in this country to argue for something that is in your self interest? Why is it ok for a player to do something self serving but not a coach, an AD, a school?
but your last point is clearly flawed on the premise that someone serving their own interests in a manner that negatively affects others as opposed to just doing something for your enjoyment.
you can't possibly believe that.
that sounds horrible s/
it will suck if we achieve it.
to do things without the consent of the participants.
As opposed to freely entered transactions that both sides agree is in their best interest.
Now I'm not for the NCAA. It's been said that companies with unions usually deserve them.
Funny how the universities--which have an unquestionable political slant--treat their own minions.
I understand my profession's place in the universe. We are evil monsters with smaller-than-average genitals and a lack of conscience. But I do get a little sick of people being all "leave it to the lawyer to point out alleged violations of law." It's like saying "you just think Global Warming is real because of your 'research,' MISTER SCIENTIST."
I believe he was trying to point out that there might be a little bias. I also believe many of us suffer from overreacting to everything syndrom.
That's the way I took the comment as well. The writer would have likely gotten a completely different answer if he had asked a corportate lawyer who works against union formation.
You don't speak for us all.
I'm pretty happy with my girth.
I know, sophomoric, but his name always made me giggle.
You mean other than that he passed away in 2012? His name was pronounced CO-burn, by the way.
I hadn't heard that. I haven't subscribed to The Nation in 5 ish years. I meant no disrespect. I did enjoy his Devil's Advocate column.
Is it illegal if he's telling them not to vote to unionize with a non-existent union?
Or rather, did we completely settle whether or not these are Pat Fitzgerald's employees yet? As far as I can tell all they have is this vote.
Like the posted article here says, what they can't do is offer promises or engage in anything which could be seen as threatening or retaliatory, although the WSJ did report that, at one point, supposedly Fitzgerald did meet with players individually, which probably is skirting the line of what the university could not do. He also wrote letters to athletes and their parents according to that same article - not sure what the interpretation of that would be.
In these situations, as far as I understand, the union doesn't need to exist, merely the prospect of forming one. Volkswagen just went through this when one of its plants in the United States had its workers ultimately decide not to join the UAW, although I believe that VW was actually supportive of the effort because it better fits the business model of management-union cooperatives that exists in Germany.
Needless to say, however, Northwestern has put a lot of time and effort into advertising why they believe the vote should be "no".
>> The Nation failed to point them out and I'm curious as to why their contributing Law Attorney, Tony Paris, neglected to as well.
One has to start with the possibility that there wasn't any breaches of the labor laws. Just because the article suggests something doesn't mean it actually happened.
Articles such as these are part of a huge PR war being fought. This article is battlespace preparation based on an anticipated "no" vote.
I thought the article was pretty clear: the author posited that an employer cannot lawfully use threats or intimidation to deter employees from voting for a union, and then suggested that Fitzgerald's remarks amounted to threats & intimidation.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the part you didn't quote from Price points to the part from Fitzgerald you paraphrased away.
In my heart, I know that the downside of joining a union is much bigger than the upside.
You paraphrased this as Fitzgerald saying there's "no upside," but that's (importantly) not what he said. Thus Price:
The coach is entitled to his opinion, but his claim that the downside of unionization is ‘much bigger’ – could arguably be construed as a threat and/or imply some sort of reprisal.
Despite being pro-unionization, I don't think it's actually a threat. I don't think Price is being biased either, though. He's just explaining what could be argued if the pro-union people wanted to press an interference claim before the NLRB (or whomever). He's hedging pretty hard while he does it--it's not like he's insisting Fitzgerald did something illegal. He's just saying what would be focused on in a hypothetical legal argument.
You edited this before I could reply, so I guess everything's copacetic?
The alumni association's threats of the players not getting access to the networking opportunities provided by being a football player at Northwestern is the most obvious one. That's a pretty blatant violation of the law.
Let the players do what they want. It is their team.
You really think "it is their team'?
I bet the coaches, the University and fans would say otherwise.
but CAPA is a union as far as the NLRB is concerned..
really, thats what matters.. it is only a matter of time before northwestern or some other private school certifies.. then, its on.. even if it werent to be expanded to public schools, by the NLRB, it will cede an advantage to private schools that would be taken up by public schools..
How will that be an advantage? They still have to play by NCAA rules. And if it was just private schools, who would want to go coach and have to deal with a union if you had a choice. This would be a very clear disadvantage.
[I'm generalizing] I agree and especially when you have the mentality of a highly recruited, hyper-competitive athlete. You want to go play for the best and with the best because you think you're the best. And having one more body to answer to, in addition to the coaching staff and school administration seems more like a burden to a big recruit than an incentive.
but, if you are offered a guaranteed 4 year scholarship at USC v an Alabama crapshoot, which will you choose?
if Vanderbilt offers full medical coverage and Tennessee doesnt, which will you choose?
which would you encourage youre son to choose?
If Northwestern or Notre Dame offers both and Michigan doesnt, which would you take?
This is all about a benefits package that creates competition. If a union at one school can offer that and another cannot, all other things being equal, who would not take the security?
I'm not saying that kids are going to choose Holy Cross over Kentucky basketball, or Pitt over Penn State football tomorrow, just that the trend will move that way over time. if Pitt can pick up an extra 4 star each year because of the benefits that they offer that Penn State doesn't, eventually their recruiting profile will rise, and theyre in on the same 5 stars. And at that point Penn State has to guarantee the same things, or a similar package, or lose out on 5 stars.
a rising tide lifts all boats.
The benefits, competition, and basic econ werent the point.. Labor law 101 was the point I was trying to make. The NLRB makes a decision, when they do, it wins. the next battle is in front of the full labor board. If they rule in favor of CAPA, they're a union and can bargain collectively, deal with it.
As with everything else, when people collectively bargain, it creates a competitive advantage that others have to keep up with.
Thank you for letting me abuse your straw man though.
What mercenary college coach would want to goto Notre Dame and recruit with a labor negotiated contract that says recruits have guaranteed scholarships, medical coverage, paid trips home, etc.. Who would ever take a good private school job where he can tell mama her son is covered like that?
Competition is tough enough between ND and us already.. you dont think Michigan would have to offer the same things just to keep up?
He knows from personal experience that every player will avoid severe injury and go on to make $2.2 million per year, so they don't need to organize. That's true, right?
So you're saying that if you do suffer injury or otherwise don't go on to make 2 mil a year, you do need to organize? Sorry, how does that follow?
My point is that it's easy for Fitzgerald to sit where he is now and "know in (his) heart" that a union won't help...Has Fitzgerald gone to bat for catastrophic health insurance for players? Maybe he has, but I"m not aware of it. You'd think a guy who's looking out for his players would want that. Why be against something that could deliver it, especially when that something hasn't exactly made pro players worse off?
Well, we don't entirely know that he is against it. His personal beliefs may not coincide with the statements that he is delivering to his players. Despite the prominence of the HC position, he's still an employee of Northwestern and is beholden to a large number of people who are far higher in the food chain than him. This may be a case of him begrudgingly following orders from his bosses.
This is complete conjecture and shouldn't be read as an authoritative statement. Just a theory.
This will probably be taken down for fear of politics (personally I'd just lock it so that people don't keep posting it), but I think what Fitzgerald did really does skirt the border of what is allowable. The power of a union is to protect its members from undue pressure from superiors; putting undue pressure on people ABOUT starting a union by superiors is dangerously close to that behavior, and if only I had taken employment law in law school I'd feel more knowledgeable on the topic. That said, the level to which Fitzgerald has gone to dissuade his players from even considering joining a union, and the veiled threats/admonishments about future consequences, would make me uncomfortable as a lawyer for NW.
could lose millions. Which is why. . . never mind. The players have accomplished an enormous amount simply with the threat. Who knows, other Americans might want to check it out.
They did. Worked great until it stopped working. There's a reason private sector union membership has fallen off a cliff.
This. That era is long gone. That VW vote in TN was HUGE in terms of that movement ever picking up steam. VW didn't remotely oppose it and it still lost big.
Right now as working conditions seem fair and people are more grateful for having a job than not in this economy, unions won't seem like a good idea. Why pay money to something you don't have need for. I'm sure union popularity will cycle back into America if things get bad for employees.
that their decline results from something other than their lack of efficacy. In this case, for example, the NCAA is doing backward somersaults to better accommodate the players in the face of even the threat of unionization. To this extent, again, the players are succeeding.
I don't personally know, btw, whether unions for players are a good thing or can work, but I do know that organizing with other people who are in a like situation and have a grievance is a pretty good idea--has worked for a lot of people down through the years. Is working once again. I see these things more as objective truths than politics.
What the unions can't stop is playing time. Right now before the union is formed and adopted across the country this is the "ace" that's in the universities hands to play. You vote "yes" you sit the bench. It might cost the university a game or even a season but in the long run and the message it would send be a benefit?
Unions won't have the power to decide who is #1 #2 QB. Who starts who sits. That's still the coaching staffs choice. This could get really ugly.
This is the thing I have been wondering. If a scholarship player needs to be disciplined or isn't playing well, is a walkon now a 'scab'?
The thing you describe is called "retaliation" and is really really illegal. Also, union balloting is secret for a reason.
How can the union prove it? How many 4-5 star players don't make it? Who evaluated the players during practice to see who starts? The coaches and right now at NW is where this ends or it blows up and everything changes for the worse.
I just believe the threat of not playing to an 18 year old might be enough to sway how this vote goes. What other choice or "retaliation" to avoid this does the school have? Honestly, I don't know and would like others opinions.
Would it upset fans like me and you? Sure. But I'm upset that their trying to form a union. Unions tied to college sports will tear apart what I grew up loving. I like the NFL but I LOVE college football.
This is not to bash unions. I belong to a union. I'm a professional firefighter. The key word "professional". The UAW or the IAFF have no place in college sports.
Kids can stay in school and get their college education for free do too their athletic ability. If gifted enough they can go on to the NFL and join their union and get paid after only 2 years of school.
I'm rambling I know so I'll stop. I know things always change. I know change worries people and they don't like it. I just hope college football doesn't lose it's amateurism because it's that innocents' about this sport I hold dear and love.
that innocence was thrown out a long time ago.
I'm generally anti-union, but you can't really fault them for wanting to unionize just like you can't fault management/ownership for opposing it.
Maybe unionization isn't the right answer here, but there are a lot of problems in the college model that need fixing and this at least seems to be pushing it to the forefront.
We should stop paying firefighters and then you won't need to unionize because you won't be professionals. I cannot see any downside to this general line of thought.
A person following a profession, especially a learned profession.
One who earns a living in a given or implied occupation.
A skilled practitioner; an expert.
As a firefighter I'm all the above.
College football players are given the ability to earn a college degree because of their ability on the football field. In turn the University makes money in sales related to the team. Football players go to college with the hopes of becoming a "Skilled practitioner" that will lead to the ability to "earn a living in the implied occupation" NFL. At this stage they are not professionals in need of unions to fight for what really is nothing more than an internship with the hopes of landing a job at google.
Well funny you mention that, because judges across the country have been finding many internship programs in violation of various labor laws due to their exploitive nature. The DOL has guidelines for when compensation is not required (http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs71.htm). A lot of internship programs skirt these rules and the interns end up doing what otherwise paid employees would do for free.
As for this: "In turn the University makes money in sales related to the team."
Why does that need to be the case? I had an academic scholarship to Michigan and I don't remember there being such a set-up for me?
making money off of the players? Yes. And the benefits extend far beyond dollars and cents. This is going to be a hard fact to get around. Employees too get benefits from their jobs. But that doesn't mean they're not employees.
Just because universities across the country are making money off from Basketball and Football programs that doesn't make those in the program employees. They are students. They are people who agreed to play for the university of their choice. They went on visits offical and unoffical. They looked to their parents and high school coaches then made a choice to attend a university of higher education (not employment) that has a Football/Basketball program. Why? For the 110,000 people in the stands cheering for them. To "learn" under the coaching staff that they believe gives them the best chance to make it to the NFL/NBA at which time they become employees. Then there are those students who know D-1 will be the end of their amature career in sports and choose a university based on the education they will recieve. Why? To gain employment then making them a employee.
It was 2am and the bar was closing. They just showed you love for different reasons. I'm guessing you both woke up happy as you seem to be a fan. :0)
The players appear to me to be "following a [learned] profession," they "earn a living" doing so (see: room and board scholarships), and anybody playing D1 ball is certainly a skilled practitioner and, by the time they see the field anywhere but on Michigan's OL, an expert.
I mean, suppose that only firefighters in the 32 biggest cities were paid, with volunteer forces everywhere else. Suppose also that volunteer firefighters were all spending 60 hours a week trying to eventually land gigs with ("get drafted by") the paying operations. Then on your view it seems like it would be ok if they weren't paid. For one thing, they would (trivially!) fail to be professionals insofar as their positions wouldn't pay.
More generally, there is something seriously wrong with predicating the legitimacy of organizing workers on the basis of whether or not they earn a substantial enough living, insofar as a primary reason to organize workers is to push for more substantial benefits.
Last I knew, incidentally, Google paid their interns something like 6k a month.
What do you think would happen if Northwestern gets rid of their starters for voting? First, players are going to be pissed. Second, fans are going to be irate (as irate as NW fans get) when they're watching basically a high school team fielding a bunch of walk-ons and general student body volunteers.
I doubt very much NW would take any such immediate and drastic measures.
More likely, if the impact of any unionization begins to affect the University's ability to manage the program and its costs/benefit ratio, the University will start to isolate and starve off the program ... along with other non-revenue sports supported by football.
Even still, it would take some time to see this manifest. But, to the extent outside factors make operating a football program less and less in the University's interest, the University will respond to control what it can to balance back to its interests.
There's absolutely nothing that says a school like Northwestern must run a football program.
Are you suggesting NU (or other schools) would be mandated to run football to support non-revenue sports? I understand the part about proportional participation ... but I see it more likely that if the revenue sports prove more trouble than worth they'll just phase out all sports.
And if we ever get to the point where institutions of higher learning are forced to provide facilities, staff and pay to support athletics ... well, then there are bigger problems facing us all.
There is literally not a single plausible scenario under which this would happen. Like there is literally a better chance of pigs flying than anything you described happening. Any member of congress that proposed this would have every major college president so far up their asses it wouldn't be funny.
As far as SCOTUS, given the current make up of the court and the Morrison and Raich decisions, that's more unlikely. The decision you mentioned is also far more nuanced than you described.
Are we forgetting basic tenants of human behavior? Fitzgerald has a job to field the best team. If he doesn't, he probably won't have a job very long. If he wants to get petty and axe a bunch of starters, presumably his best players, because of their vote on this issue, he's putting his ass on the line. He's likely not going to act that far out of his own self interest, and if he does, then good riddance because he's probably not a very good manager then.
So what I expressed is the extreme.
This is a very common response to a union organizing campaign, and generally speaking, is legal.
It's not a political opinion piece, it's just asking questions:
you can't possibly believe that.
Basically, 1) they didn't get any pressure from the university and 2) they are smart enough to realize they are getting an awesome deal (how many NW players actually go to the NFL??) so they aren't ones to rock the boat.
I think you're much more likely to get kids to unionize at a school that produces some NFL talent (i.e. I'm here for the exposure, not the education) that doesn't treat them like royalty on campus. So, essentially, no where...
c'mon man, he's just being paid to be a university mouthpiece, or he's cowtowing to threats, its simply not possible anyone, let alone Coach Fitz or a player could believe that a union wasn't necessary. /s
NW is to Northwestern
MG is to Michigan
Yes!!! I don't understand why NW started. They are NU. I liken it to people referring to Michigan as MU.
If anything you might be able to say it's like calling UM "MI" not "MU". Northwestern is often abbreaviated NW because, well, the word "northwest" or "northwestern" or "northwesterly" (winds) is abbreviated "NW". So, no, not really.
That being said I know a couple NW alum that actually write "NW" in our e-mail chains so...
Northwestern captain had some things to say about the union and the thoughts of some of the players: http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/10844309/northwestern-co-captain-says-union-not-necessary-our-team
While I respect his opinion (and he obviously has a better take on the team than outsiders), I also think we need to gve credence to former players like Colter who feel that change needs to happen. And it will also be interesting to see how the voting results come out, as perhaps Vitabile's sense of how the team perceives the school's treatment of them is not one shared by everyone.
Ditto Colters. There are obviously people on both sides of this that feel differently than others.
Despite the screaming and hollering, Colters testimony is not indicative or representative of the thoughts of every member of the team (either past or present), just like Vitables most likely is not either.
Threatening workers for forming a union is horrible, but I don't think Fitzgerald actually threatened anybody.
While the meetings may or may not have involved Fitzgerald directly, NU players have been subjected to three-on-one sessions with NUAD and university personnel during which time they have been pressured to vote against the union.
So only the pro-union side is allowed to advocate for their position? Is that really how that works? If so, that sounds less than fair.
It is not. Speaking from experience... This is a pretty typical, and legal, response by an employer.
NW could have stopped this union thing in its tracks if it simply threatened to require anyone who voted "yes" to read more Dave Zirin articles. Seriously, this guy has to be one of thw orst writers to actually be getting paid for writing.
WTF is up with ">discuss the manifest issues" and ">playing a "sport" that requires as much as sixty hours a week" and "In Coach Fitzgerald's world, there will be no dental plan no matter how badly Lisa needs braces," all just from the first paragraph?
People who read Zirin are now more stupid than they were before reading him. Why would he even quote a source who merely says that something may have happened ("coach Pat Fitzgerald may deserve a flag for encroachment")? He goes on to argue that players' ability to take the classes they want to take is "subject to the whims" of their coaches. He never actually gives any evidence of this, or of his assertio that the NCAA has made players "as powerless as possible," he simply makes the assertion and then draws conclusions from it. His conclusion: that, because Zirin's assumptions are true, the conclusion is that, at Northwestern football, "threats' are "omnipresent." What a crock of shit. Not one player or former player has alleged anything of the sort.
Fuck Zirin, and fuck the guy who linked to him.*
*[not really. I just liked the internet-tough-guy sound of that]
give the guy a break. he threw in the flag/encroachment bit to relate to you football types. because that's what the people want, and dave zirin understands the people.
Dave Zirin didn't say that. He was quoting a lawyer who said that Fitzgerald may have encorached." That's a totally meaningless construct. The sun may have exploded eight minutes ago. Martians may have secretly taken over the US government. Anything may have happened... except Zirin writing a piece worth reading.
My bet is that even you would find something of interest in any of the following books written by Dave Zirin over the past decade or so. The guy's been quite prolific, is all about provocation (ie getting people to THINK, whether you agree or disagree...) He has a sizeable fanbase.
Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics and Promise of Sports
People’s History of Sports in the United States: 250 Years of Politics, Protest, People, and Play
The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed the World
Brazil’s Dance with the Devil: The World Cup, The Olympics, and the Fight for Democracy
What’s My Name, Fool? Sports and Resistance in the United States
Game Over: How Politics Has Turned the Sports World Upside Down
Bad Sports: How Owners Are Ruining the Games We Love
Muhammad Ali Handbook
Zirin also knows his stuff about sports. He's the rare thinking sportswriter (the opposite of what we all routinely complain about on this blog!) Golfers beware, however, he doesn't consider that to be a "sport."
It's not really a people's history, but rather a Leftist interpretation of a people's history. As any observant person surely knows the populace does not think the same. The people are a diverse bunch that views events and subjects from many angles. There is no collective people when it comes to opinion and perception.
Those books you reference...who cares? I don't care what Dave Zirin thinks and I don't have reason to. I would sooner listen to Kermit the Frog pontificate about why owners are ruining sports as I would Dave Zirin.
I find this hard to follow--people don't think alike? You're actually of the opinion that there isn't uniformity of opinion about a lot of issues? A lot of sociologists and political scientist are going to have to hunt up new work.
Nowhere does "People's History" imply people's opinions; it suggests that a story that has been told from other points of view is--especially from the poitn of view of the rich and privileged--will instead be told from the point of the poor and working middle class. It may be a tired trope, but you're misconstruing it completely.
"will instead be told from the point of the poor and working middle class."
Interesting. So only the poor and working middle class are considered people?
There is general consensus, but uniformity no. For example, 90% of the people after Pearl Harbor supported going to war. That means 10% did not. I aso challenge you to name a sociologist or political scientist who uses uniformity to describe political opinions. A honest one will admit that there is a variance in belief.
As for "People's History" those classes you mentioned have different points of view. You seem to think that they don't. That is an egregious error on your part. People from the lower classes DO have diverse opinions. That is why you have Tea Partiers and Occupied Wall Streeters coming from the same socioeconomic classes.
- Drew Sharp, Ace Williams, Mike Valenti. Saying stupid and/or false things about Michigan in order to get Michigan fans upset is a tried and true way to phish for clicks. Let's not feed the trolls.
It's funny that the articles you chose to highlight, as a way to justify your post, include the word politics in their title, along with other politically loaded words. Zirin's a fine and interesting sports writer who writes for an inherently provactive political magazine. There are plenty of political blogs, and numerous political commentators, who love talking about sports. I know a lot of people enjoy coming here because it's an escapte from politics.
All that post does is point out that, yes, Zirin is a well-published author. I listed books, he has written for ESPN and tons of other online and print publications for a long time. Also, there are folks on this blog that will in fact be interested in at least some of what he has written.
That doesn't mean that I think you, or anyone else seeing this, need agree with his perspective. However, his voice as it pertains to not only this but many other debates having to do with sports is valid, and he raises legit questions.
Now, as for the politics bit - sigh. We say that we want to avoid politics on this blog, but at the same time they are often rather unavoidable. The whole unionization question did not begin with this post, and it is inherently political, in that it raises questions of policy and how that policy, or set of policies, gets determined, the interests involved, exercise of power and influence, etc.
The same could be said of what just happened with McGary. On the pages of this blog, the policy of the NCAA regarding marijuana use (and the related punishment) has been ridiculed. Drew Sharp, meanwhile - as to be expected because it involves a Michigan player - is taking the personal responsibility route and criticizing McGary. It is in fact a highly politicized issue that involves a college athlete, within a much broader context nationally involving the whole marijuana decriminalization debate. At least I can't think about the narrow issue/question without thinking about that broader context, and the question of just why the NCAA would have such penalties on the books at this point in time. I suppose that there are those who think that the University should share the NCAA perspective - but it does not.
With all that said, I still look to this blog first of all to help me keep up with Michigan sports, especially football, bball, hockey. At same time, the blog has offered plenty of insights about the broader context in which all that takes place - I don't think it would be about the University of Michigan if it did not.
Like I said, Zirin's an interesting writer, but the line drawn regarding politics here is if it directly involves Michigan, hence Chait's stuff appearing here once in awhile.
I agree that he raises legit questions and I understand why you'd want to post it here. I'm someone who works and participates in the questions Zirin likes to discuss, however something from The Nation isn't particularly useful to this blog, especially an article like the one you posted. It's not about Michigan, instead, it's about accusing a coach who doesn't coach for Michigan about breaking a law that currently doesn't apply to Michigan and was posted under the guise of asking a question, from a particular political point of view, that no one here was asking (did Fitzgerald violate the law?)
Still has very much to do with a topic of discussion in this blog, tho!
I have a simple solution that should make both sides happy: let's make the sport truly amatuer.
The player's complaints stem from that fact that revenue generating sports (basketball and football) are really semi-professional farm leagues for the NBA and NFL. Those two sports are BILLION dollar businesses. They are billion dollar businesses due in part to the skills these players bring (yes, I know the institution argument the Michigan die-hards here would attend if the team never won another game for the rest of eternity, but let's put that aside and talk about the average person for a moment). How many #16 Michigan jerseys were sold from between 2009 and 2012? Can anyone honestly say like 99% of these weren't attributable to Denard Robinson?
Naturally, the players feel like they should get a bigger cut of the pie. Big time college sports make money for the stations that broadcast them through ad revenue, make money for the apparell companies, make money for the video game companies, make money for the bowl game adminsiters, fill 80K stadiums, etc. At schools like Michigan, football and basketball support all the non-revenue sports. Coaches and ADs are being paid 7 figures.
They do get an education and that's very valuable. Between undergrad and grad school, I'll be paying loans back for a while. Sadly, I'm a flatfooted 5'7" 135 lb unathletic white guy so I couldn't get an athletic scholarship. How valuable is that education though when you're more than likely not prepared due to your socioeconomic background (again in terms of the revenue sports)? Would most of these guys get admitted to Michigan if not for sports? Even if you want to try and care, between your athletic committments, how much can you really care, in terms of hours/day? Maybe it's worth it in terms of a grand social experiment -- being the first person going to college in your family will help their kids, etc. I don't know. I guess the paper is worth it.
Ok so we have all these factors above. The players want a bigger slice of the ever growing pie (naturally). The other side (universities, coaches, NCAA, etc) are in favor of the status quo. Given the above factors, I don't really see how college football and basketball are amatuer, other than in name. So it seems like we're an impasse. A lot of fans don't like it ruining the "purity" of college sports (though I think that position and naive and not placed in reality, it is a position that a lot of people hold).
So what's the solution? Schools don't want to pay and players want a piece of the pie. If this is really about student-athletes, amatuerism and purity, let's get the money out of the sport.
You have to meet the same admission standards as the rest of the student-body. If you're on scholarship, you have to finish your degree. If you leave before finishing your degree, there should be some penalty. Get rid of the players who want to play for the NBA and NFL -- let them figure out their own developmental model. Get rid of liscencing, get rid of humongous TV deals, cut down on the capital expenses -- do we really need a LAX field, field hockey field, etc.? Put them all in the Big House. House basketball and hockey in the same stadium.
Basically, put the worms back in the can because the can of worms didn't open in the past 10 years or so since the player's movement started, but decades ago. But we all know that won't work.
how little they can get away with paying. Like other employers.
Someone doesn't understand basic economics.
Yeah... Wow. I'm glad at least one other person had that thought, too.
Universities ARE employers--I have worked for them in various capacities, studied economics as an employee, even (as a grad student). Maintained a 4-point average doing it. The status of athletes, who offer additional services to universities, mirrors that of grad students in many ways (including in the fact that they in turn receive various goods or benefits from the u, which doesn't alter that fact that they are employees).
Or maybe it's the other half of my argument, the notion that universities are recalculating their advantages madly as we speak? Recent hasty conferences by NCAA reps would suggest otherwise. . .
When people LOL it's usually because they can't get it up for real argument. Not sure that mere "basic" economics will get you into the Supreme Court chambers to argue your case, but type with two hands next time and see what you can come up with.
His reaction was most likely to your "figuring how out little to pay, just like other employers" comment. You do realize that many employers, at least those who employ professionals and who actually understand why play as little as possible is a horrible economic strategy, don't operate that way, right?
Also, there is virtually no chance the players prevail if they make it to Supreme Court. Not as presently constructed, anyway.
powerful driver of global profit-seeking. Professionals constitute a tiny fraction of the workforce, nationally and internationally, 20% of American workers to be exact, and--another small fraction of such labor apart--has seen its wages and compensation driven down dramatically over the last 20 years by mechanization, self- and home-employment strategies and permanent temp labor. Basic economics my tuchuses--you're going to lecture people on a Michigan board with that weak palaver?
Yep. Sure am.
You are proposing the what is essentially the Ivy League model for college sports. I don't know why it wouldn't work.
However, I don't think that the college sports needs to go that far. I think that, by and large, what CAPA is asking for is quite reasonable. I don't know how long a players' union would remain reasonable, though. The advantage for players of actually having a union would be that union law would protect their ability to influence the decision-makers in college sports, and the disadvantage is that the decision-making would be in the hands of professionals whose view of what is in the "interests of the players" might be as much at variance with their actual interests as the view of the college presidents currently is.
Another problem with unions is that it would be difficult, and maybe legally impossible, for a players' union to exclude athletes from other college teams at that university. The legal grounds under which union were permitted talks about the players' roles and sacrifices, common to all scholarship college athletes, not the amount of net revenue thrier sport took in. Once that pie starts getting so thinly sliced, there is going to be a lot of anger about why the slices are so small.
My preferred solution is that the college presidents of the big sports schools understand that they have to make changes, either within the NCAA or outside it. Those changes should include giving the players a place at the table. I think they have to be very careful to make sure that they dont create incentives for legal bagman-like buying of players (allowing players to make endorsements, for instance, just begs for bogus endorsement dals to get players to play for specific schools), but I think that the players have as much interest in preventing that behavior as does anyone.
I am more in favor of allowing the use of names and images if the payments for those names and images (jersey sales, product licensing, and the like) goes into a big pot that is distributed to all players of the sport, regardless of whether it is their own specific name or image that is bing used. That eliminates a lot of the potential locker-room issues and reinforces the idea that these are teams.
As you say, the worms are squirming out of the can. Amateurism has taken a huge hit. I'm not convinced that it is dead, but I am convinced both that it is essential to college football as we know it, and that the key to its survival is getting the pros out of college. The college presidents (this means the NCAA, at present, but doesn't have to mean the NCAA in the future) has to force the NFL and NBA to develop their own minor leagues and take the pro under-20 players off the hands of the colleges. Even if that is done, however, the remaining amateurs still deserve a place at the table and a better deal.
That was always justified as a way to protect the school from the AD losing money, but now, because of TV deals, it's not as big of a problem. Instead, it's contributing to Athletic Directors like Dave Brandon hunting down donors, who could be giving to the schools academic wings, thus helping fulfill the mission of the university, and instead siphoning them off with tickets, etc.
I worked with the University of Maryland for a number of years, and there is absolutely no doubt that sports brings in huge donations to the academic side. I worked with a number of faculty members who thought sports should be done away with at the university, and then Maryland won the NCAA tournament. The money and grant opportunities flowed in. Donors are not a zero sum game, athletics bring in far more money in academic donations than they make on the profit margins for the AD. It's why many schools are willing to suffer losses in the AD.
And I've heard the exact opposite. If sports in general and football in particular affected grant money you'd see a lot more top universities with high powered athletic departments.
No wonder DB is raising prices on everything. With Denard gone he must have lost 99% of his jersey sales. Or maybe people buy jerseys because they are Michigan fans. Jaguar jersey sales must have went through the roof last year!
This is so painfully stupid and misses the point so terribly, that it's not even worth responding to in a serious fashion.
I'll just leave you with this if you seriously don't believe jersey sales are tied to players