Fisking The Internet On CAPA Comment Count

Brian March 27th, 2014 at 12:36 PM


we're going to have a picture of Kain Colter at this press conference from ALL THE ANGLES

BiSB's terrific post earlier today covers much of the ground I wanted to, except from a lawyer who actually knows what he's talking about. I did want to put my two cents in, because approximately 74% of the comments I've read in the aftermath of the NLRB's decision make me want to find the person and shake them, shouting something along the lines of "HAVE YOU EVER MADE A COHERENT ARGUMENT IN YOUR GODDAMNED LIFE?!?"

So let's address these things. These are actual MGoBlog user comments. I'd say I'm sorry if I picked yours, but I'm not.


I could definitely see Northwestern arguging that football athletes shouldn't get special treatment over all the other sports, etc and just dropping it the way Chicago did.

So… your theory is that Northwestern will drop football, get kicked out of the Big Ten, lose about 99% of their athletics revenue, and pay for its nonrevenue sports out of its own pocket because the football players have the right to collectively bargain. The people making this decision will be throwing away countless hours of free marketing, making their school less attractive to prospective students, and essentially firing themselves.

Seems likely.

Wow. Stupid. So long college sports as we know it.

"So long the Olympics as we know it." –this guy, 1992

No way is the third string back-up tackle as valuable as Jake Ryan or Devin Gardner. Why should a guy who contributes little to victory receive the same level of pay that a Gardner does?

Also, this will basically destroy the MAC  and other small schools. They don't have the budget to negotiate anything. I foresee schools dropping football or going to non-scholarship.

This is an argument that the future system might be unfair because it treats all athletes the same when some of them are worth more than others. I'm sure if we think about this very hard for a very long time I can come up with a flaw in that.

The MAC may not be able to provide the same sort of financial support that bigger schools can. This will undoubtedly crater their recruiting, which features many head-to-head wins against the Big Ten.

Won't this cripple many athletic departments and force them to drop sports? Perhaps not Michigan, but schools of lesser stature?

Maryland recently dropped several sports.

There are broad swathes of schools playing NCAA sports, and most of them are going to be completely unaffected by this decision. To be an employee you have to be involved in economic activity, and most NCAA schools are spending, not making money. The top and vast bottom are going to be fine. There is a middle tier of schools that face a choice between narrowing their focus to keep up with the Joneses and abandoning their dreams of being Louisville.

The problem is: they already face that choice. They run with a D-I minimum of sports and throw their resources at the revenue generators. This won't "cripple" them any more than their already short resources do.

Maryland dropped several sports because it was run by an idiot, a problem orthogonal to this discussion.

if this decision stands they will have just walked tens of thousands of student athletes right out of college sports.  title IX will be effectively gutted.   your daughter that wanted to row/field hockey/basketball, etc, kiss that good bye.  your son who wanted to play a sport that really doesn't generate revenue, say gymnastics, wrestling, and track,   well that's all done too.  nice job [insert expletives here].

There are 311 Division II institutions that make zero money on sports. There are 449 D III institutions. There are hundreds—thousands—of D-II and D-III field hockey, rowing, basketball, gymnastics, wrestling, and track programs. The chance that a high revenue program that has to deal with a player union is forced to drop sports is very low, and the overall number of opportunities to participate in intercollegiate athletics is not likely to change in any significant way.

And even if it did, I don't think there's any compelling reason to privilege generally wealthy nonrevenue athletes over the general student population and especially the relatively poor and underprivileged revenue athletes.



The athletes do not draw in the money. The name does. Michigan Football brings in the revenue. I didn't watch Denard any more closely than Sheridan. I don't watch Derrick Walton more often than Darius Morris. Have you ever said you were going to stop tuning in because a player left? Probably not, so it's not the players drawing in the money. The coaches play a big role, because they determine which players get recruited and how well the team performs (more fans watched Beilein than Amaker, for example).

Lots of players come and go every year, and the amount of revenue is not affected.

The hell you say. Traffic patterns during the last two football seasons here certainly indicate a correlation between success and engagement, and while football teams have a pile of goodwill built up all you have to do is look at ticket availability at Minnesota versus Wisconsin, or Northwestern, or Purdue, or Indiana to get an idea that the players make the name over a long period of time. If Michigan had a string of 3-9 seasons over the last 30 years, Michigan Stadium would be a decaying half-full wreck.

Meanwhile, I note you compared Derrick Walton to… uh… Darius Morris. I will expect a full report on the details of Gavin Groninger's career by Tuesday, in exacting detail.

So a 4 year full ride scholarship is not getting paid? This concept is a mockery of the system.

It may or may not be a 4 year full ride, and that full ride is not like getting an engineering degree (most of the time—I see you, Jordan Morgan). Many of the kids coming in are under-prepared to get a meaningful degree and have to spend 50 hours a week year round on their chosen sport. For many the value of their degree is approximately zero, both in terms of vocational knowledge gained and their ability to apply that to a real world job.

This is not because they did not "take advantage of their opportunity." It is because the opportunity was to play football and the rest of it was window dressing.

Also, CAPA was arguing that the scholarship is payment. The issue is that these players are compensated, making them employees, and the NCAA illegally colludes to cap compensation at a certain amount. That is not legal.

And the system is a mockery of you, man.

It's not free labor, they pay them in the form of education, meals, $1,200 month stipend, etc. Nobody is telling these kids that they can't go to college unless they play football, they can take the normal route and get student loans and be a normal student. That's what grinds my gears about the whole thing.

They are telling them that this is the deal, take it or leave it, if you want to get to the NFL. And oh by the way as you're embarking on your probably-failed quest to have an NFL career that's going to be about 3 years long even if you do make it, we are going to make millions of dollars off your single outstanding skill.

It is ludicrous that everyone in college is all about getting theirs and we bristle at the idea of the players doing the same. Any moral high ground the NCAA had—and they did try to cap assistant pay back in the day—is 20 years gone.



I wonder what cut the IRS will get from these Unionized employees

lets say 50000 a year for tuition, food, room, board, books and everything else

thats 50000 x .25 since thats 25 percent tax bracket = 12500 taxes

12500 x 4 = 50000 taxes owed

good luck kid

This was capably addressed by BiSB: the NLRB has nothing to do with the IRS and vice versa, and even if it did the way the law is currently written athletic scholarships should already be taxable. If anything, negotiating a provision that the scholarship still applies even if the player leaves the team puts the non-taxability of scholarship on more solid footing. Meanwhile, room and board money is already taxed.

What happens when needs aren't met? Strike? What happens then?

What prevents players from sitting down now? 

If the medical benefits, etc. that these players want really comes to fruition, what is that going to do to ticket prices?  The schools are going to try to come up with some sort of calculations as to what these new benefits to the players is going to cost and almost certainly try to figure out where the money is going to come from to fund the new player benefits.  Odds are it's going to be the consumer (ie - fans) that are going to be asked to help fund the new player benefits.

If ticket prices had any relationship to the cost of supporting the athletic department they would not have quadrupled in real dollars since 2000. If NCAA athletic departments were not trying to wring out every last dime they can already, Rutgers and Maryland would not be joining the Big Ten next year to the outrage of 90% of current Big Ten fans. If athletic departments could not afford to shift some of their money towards the athletes under their care, coaching salaries would not have gone up 70% since 2006.

Does this mean that Northwestern can fire all of their underperforming players and replace them with better ones now?




March 27th, 2014 at 12:43 PM ^

I love it.  

What really saddens me is the players are from a similar class of many of the commenters.  But these people side with the administrators and their own rooting interest, rather than the players trying to negotiate.


March 27th, 2014 at 1:13 PM ^

with either, with the exception of the medical benefits issue. Beyond that I wish the NFL was forced to have their own farm system. Let the players make the choice, including earning all of the revenue their names and likeness earn in the NFL's farm system. Let them toil in front of the small crowds of the NBA's developmental league or MLB's farm system. Let them stay at sponsor's homes, ride busses and all of the rest of that life.


March 27th, 2014 at 1:36 PM ^

I'm with you.  I completely understand if someone wants to earn money from their labors.  That's completely fair.  And no, I don't think it's a stretch that money is where this will eventually go should it hold up.  But I don't want to watch that.  There's a reason I don't watch professional sports.  If a kid wants to make cash for playing football, there has to be a way to set up a system to do this, and then allow those who would rather attend Michigan and play football to do it without getting cash as compensation.  Those who value the degree that hangs on their wall; those who are willing to make a the sacrifice of their time to play football.  Those are the people I want to watch.  I agree that the system currently in place does not really allow this at all.  So change THAT.  As Brian said, everyone is trying to get theirs.  As a fan, I'm trying to get mine, and I don't want a recruiting visit to depend on which school offers the fatest contract.


March 27th, 2014 at 2:56 PM ^

How could people not side with their own class? Since we see everything through the prism of class of course, and we know that the merits of every argument are rooted in what class you are from, and that therefore the truth of a matter is always self evident--either for the rich or for the working guy, then of course your comment makes so much sense!

Except of course if you try to actually, think.


March 27th, 2014 at 4:13 PM ^

I think you might be jumping to conclusions, here, although class-as-economic-background often does come up when talking about unions.

I think it's fair to point out the irony that people who criticize student-athletes for fighting for certain conditions would very likely fight for those conditions themselves.   



March 27th, 2014 at 4:21 PM ^

I believe I'm just stating a fact to say that people in the United States largely do not think in those terms when compared to people around the world. 

Maybe you did not mean to create the impression that people in the U.S. are bombarded with the idea of being conscious of class.  If you did not, then my point didn't need making. 


March 27th, 2014 at 4:29 PM ^

That's a good point, and makes me want to clarify my last post: in the U.S., sometimes when people use the word "class," they don't necessarily mean it in the Marxist/Marxian way.  

That may be what the original poster meant, but even then, it doesn't mean the O.P. thinks that way all the time.  When labor law gets involved, bringing up class can be pretty hard to avoid.  


March 27th, 2014 at 12:51 PM ^


Andy Staples has a great take on SI today too:


The schools and NCAA could fight these cases, but there will only be more. The lawyers smell money, and they aren't going away until they get it. The players are compensated with tuition, room and board, but they haven't gotten a raise since the 1950s. Now, they're the stars of a wildly popular series of television shows. In a courtroom, outside the insular system that is college athletics, the NCAA's arguments sound ludicrous. In February, an attorney representing the NCAA tried to claim that television broadcasts are protected by the first amendment. You could test his claim by bringing a camera and streaming the Michigan-Ohio State game on the Internet, but ESPN -- which pays several million dollars to televise the game -- and the Big Ten would put the lie to it by burying you in cease-and-desist letters that threaten very costly legal action.

Read More:…


March 27th, 2014 at 1:08 PM ^

Wouldn't that mean that tuiton at universities hasn't increased since the 1950's?

If the scholarship for tuition is part of the compensation package that a player receives, wouldn't any increase in tuition by the univerisity amost be like a raise to the person on scholarship?

If tuition is $20,000 this year but the school raises it to $22,000 the next.  That scholarship is going to cover that 10% increase, is it not?


March 27th, 2014 at 1:17 PM ^

Right but a scholarship is also supposed to cover cost of living and that hasn't been raised as the cost of living is going up, not to mention the articifial cap put on the montly stiped despite colleges being located in places where the cost of living may be drastically different.  A player at georgetown is going to have a higher cost of living than one at texas tech.


March 27th, 2014 at 1:23 PM ^

that the players get on a monthly basis is about the only thing that hasn't gone up.

As food prices have gone up through the years, the players still get training meals provided free of charge.  While most people see their monthly premiums for medical insurance increase every year, the players still get free medical coverage. 


March 27th, 2014 at 2:07 PM ^

They don't get "free" medical coverage as much as they receive medical coverage that is part of their scholarship.  Most students also receive a certain level of "free" medical care from the schools' health departments, and they pay for this service via tuition and other expenses.  My wife opted out of it when she entered grad school, but she would have been charged otherwise.

I think people get confused about explicit vs. rolled-in costs.  Yes, athletes do benefit in some respects over other students, but that's a contractual relationship that may be available in other forms to other students.  And like those other students, ahtletes should be able to negotiate for better options if they so choose.


March 27th, 2014 at 1:59 PM ^

Tuition costs the university approximately $0 for student athletes. That psych 101 class is going to meet with 24 students or 27 students either way. Those costs are sunk. Those 3 athletes going to that class are costing the university about nothing.

So if tuition goes up, that's not a "raise" in the dollars sense.

The other way to think about it is that college sports has a salary cap. That cap is tuition, room, board and stipend. It has been that forever. If a job was a $50,000 salary, healthcare and a company car but that was that forever, I don't think we'd admonish that person for asking for a raise.

Seriously, the goal here is players asking for a voice when it comes to their "work" environment. Can everyone disagreeing with that say they've never asked for a raise, dropped a suggestion to a boss, or anything along those lines?


March 27th, 2014 at 2:25 PM ^

+1 to you sir. But that's the kind of logical fallicy that will get you in trouble in math classes. I'm not sure how lawyers feel about them (engineer here).

And to most of the people in these discussions so far. There's been a whole lot of civil back-and-forth in both BiSB's thread and this one. Part of why I like this corner of the internet.


March 27th, 2014 at 3:26 PM ^

To be fair, he's spent LOTS of time here explaining his reasoning and then people come back with the same arguments that he's taken issue with before.  Maybe he could have turned down the snark a bit, but at the same time I'd like to think everyone who reads this blog is big enough to handle a bit of it from our great leader.

Amaizing Blue

March 27th, 2014 at 12:56 PM ^

Let me put it in the simplest terms possible, ones that I am probably a bad person for mostly agreeing with.  Exploited athletes blah blah.  Legally blah blah.  I read the story and I hear this, over and over in my head.

This could change college football.  I love college football the way it is.  I hate this.

I used to have 64 points.



March 27th, 2014 at 12:56 PM ^

PLEASE Brian, make it a regular thing to make a mockery of the posters on mgoblog. Your tactful undressing of fools is why I love TWIS, and feel these boards are rife with fodder to be blasted and ridiculed on the front page. If not a "regular" thing, certainly quarterly would suffice.


March 27th, 2014 at 1:36 PM ^

Yes.  We badly need more on-sided bullyragging of people expressing honest opinions.  Too many people here don't just shut up and let the smart people like Brian tell them what to think.

Personally, i could use less of Brian's misunderstanding of the law and how scholarships actually work ("the way the law is currently written athletic scholarships should already be taxable" - the source for this assertion being another poster) and more of his writing about football, basketball and hockey.  At least he knows something about the latter.

""So long the Olympics as we know it." –this guy, 1992" is an especially telling comment.  I would agree that the Olympics has become far more corrupt, bloated, and bureaucratic since 1992.  The very things Brian whines about regarding the NCAA are engaged in by the IOC on a far vaster and more blatant basis.  Be careful what you ask for; you might get it.

Plus, "To be an employee you have to be involved in economic activity, and most NCAA schools are spending, not making money" is hilariously un-thought-out.  Does Brian really think that the people working at Motorola last year were NOT employees, because Motorola was losing money?  Losing money is economic activity, and players for money-losing schools are employees if players at money-making schools are.

I am neither for, nor against, player "unions."  I can see player input adding a lot to the value of college sports.  If scholarship athletes become university employees, though, I don't think that college sports can survive.  The pros already do the pro stuff better than colleges ever will.


March 27th, 2014 at 2:14 PM ^

Feel free to use my tongue in cheek, sarcastic, drive-by type comment (which happened to have nothing to do with the topic of player unions and everything to do with the general state of these very boards and those who parouse them) and turn it into a soapbox. HOWEVA, I must point out that to come on Brian Cook's blog and bitch about the innacuracies of Brian Cook's opinions seems a bit of a waste of time. 



March 27th, 2014 at 3:28 PM ^

"I must point out that to come on Brian Cook's blog and bitch about the innacuracies of Brian Cook's opinions seems a bit of a waste of time."

Of course.  This is a sports blog.  By definition, posting here is a "waste of time."  Your coming on the blog to bitch about my opinion is a waste of time.  This response is a waste of time.  Thank hod for time wasted! :)

French West Indian

March 27th, 2014 at 1:11 PM ^'re right.  I stand corrected.

Of the 30,000 students at Michigan clearly all of them were serious scholars, none of whom would have played high school football or ever dreamed about wearing the winged helmet in Michigan Stadium.  And it's not like Michigan has ever had any walk-on players make the team.  Do they even offer tryouts?  Probably not because who would show up.


March 27th, 2014 at 2:16 PM ^

This argument drives me crazy.  Last time I checked, athletes are students as well.  It's almost like they wear multiple hats and are 3-dimensional human beings.

If universities could no longer provide "scholarships" to athletes, I'm guessing you'd just start seeing kids get admitted with mediocre grades but as part of an "outreach" program by the school who would, oh by the way, be really fast and strong and good at sports.  The machine that funds March Madness and the Bowl Series (and, to be fair, gives this blog something to talk about and finances a half-dozen people or more) isn't going away, and a fairly large number of universities would play along in whatever charade it would take to keep it going.  

Again, people are freaking about something that makes no sense to me.  Let the guys formally negotiate for their own well-being; it literally means nothing to 99% of the people bitching about it.  If it sucks, then go watch the pros and get on with it.  But this faux outrage drives me crazy.


March 27th, 2014 at 3:08 PM ^

an 85 man squad made up of 4.0 HS GPA kids probably wouldn't be as bad as you would think, but at best you could maybe get a competitive D-II (Not even D-IAA) team.

Most of the people who played HS football and got into Michigan on 100% academic merit presumably also aren't delusional enough to think they would be a competitive D-I athlete.


March 27th, 2014 at 1:22 PM ^

Some would, yes.  My roommate one year was an engineering student who was recruited by a few Ivies to play football, but his family couldn't afford it and he went to MIchigan instead.  He considered walking on, but decided against it.  He was about 6'3" 260ish.  He could have gone out there and hung with the team.  

I have another friend, an econ major funny enough, who was a shot/discus thrower on the track team. He was offered a preferred walk-on spot on the football team, but was a much better thrower so chose track full time.  I'm sure he would have hung with everyone just fine.  

Those are just two guys I know, they are not the only ones.  

French West Indian

March 27th, 2014 at 1:44 PM ^

...big guys too when I was a student who could've probably pulled it off.

But presumably if the football employees are on strike for one team then most likely the ohter team would be on strike too (lest they cross the picket line).  This is one of the areas where unions representation in college gets very tricky.  Sports leagues need a consistent baseline in order to ensure fair competitiveness. 

If not the whole NCAA, at the very least within the conferences (such as the Big Ten) there needs to be a level playing field amongst all schools.  Anything that the union wins for the football players at Northwestern needs to be implemented at the rest of the Big Ten too. 

And on a side note, this is why a "national" playoff is so difficult to achieve.  Which is why I personally (as long as the SEC is effectively playing by different rules than other conferences) prefer the old-fashioned Big Ten championships/Rose Bowls to the new model "national" championships/playoff.


March 27th, 2014 at 2:20 PM ^

People always say this and it may be true, but I've watched Ivy football and it is, well, not much better than a good HS game.  Which is fine, but Columbia isn't filling the stands at their stadium most games.  And Harvard isn't running games on ESPN.

And I think people ignore the fact that not every football player is an idiot, and some of the guys on the team certainly would have gotten in without football, and probably would have been admitted without a scholarship at other schools as well.  So it's not like the talent pool disappears, but I do think it creates a "race to the bottom" that isn't helping anyone either.

turd ferguson

March 27th, 2014 at 1:02 PM ^

Here's a variant of the "it's not about the players in the uniforms, it's about the name on the uniforms" argument.  (This isn't about unionization, which I support.  It's a more general comment about $.)

The relative quality of my school's players matters a lot to me.  The absolute quality matters relatively little.  In other words, I want to see Michigan beat OSU, Notre Dame, MSU, and everyone else on their damn schedule.  They do that when they have better players (and coaches) than those schools.  I don't really care about the overall quality of play across all schools.  If overall quality of play is what mattered to me, I'd watch the NFL.  I sure as hell wouldn't watch college basketball right now, since all of the really good, mature basketball players are in the NBA at this point.  In absolute quality of play terms, college basketball is a disaster.

If you took all of the current players out of college football and replaced them with an entirely fresh group, all recruited like this group was recruited, I don't think you'd see much of a drop-off in interest.  The next group in wouldn't be as good, but Alabama fans will be just as excited to dominate even if their WRs are running 4.6 40's instead of 4.5 40's (against slower defenses).

In other words, no, I don't want to see Gavin Groninger get his ass kicked by Mateen Cleaves.  That's unpleasant.  If UM Gavin Groninger is gonna kick MSU Gavin Groninger's ass, that's pretty much fine with me.  

I think it's the names on the front of the uniforms that bring value - and gets people really excited - not the names on the back of the uniforms (though we often come to love and respect the guys in the uniforms).

turd ferguson

March 27th, 2014 at 1:24 PM ^

I'd argue that we can actually observe something very similar now... in college basketball.  We've essentially taken all of the best players out of college basketball for the past quarter-century.  Imagine how much higher the level of play would be if guys like Kyrie Irving, Anthony Davis, Trey Burke, etc. were playing college basketball this year as upperclassmen.

Has college basketball been devastated by this?  It's hard to say, since we can't observe what would have happened without this change, but my sense is that people's love for their schools forgives a lot of overall quality of play issues.


March 27th, 2014 at 1:33 PM ^

Yeah, the quality of play in college basketball today is definitely poorer than where it was a generation ago, when most players stayed four years.

The biggest thing fans want is a winning team.  Fans will overlook almost anything else, including pitiful academic performance and off-field behavior, as long as the team wins.  On the flip side, a great individual player on a losing team can get overlooked.  LaVell Blanchard excelled both on the court and off, but he played in front of a half-empty Crisler Arena and has largely been forgotten, despite objectively being better than a lot of guys we have now.


March 28th, 2014 at 8:28 AM ^

Interest in college basketball remains at about the level it was when I was at Michigan in the late 70s and early 80s:  fairly high among students and alumni of good b-bll schools, low outside that.  Quite comparable to pro basketball, in fact.

If you believe that interest in college basketball outside the tournament is essentially non-existant, you aren't coming to this blog except during tourny time.


March 27th, 2014 at 9:30 PM ^

I think that's true to a degree but I also think that over time it'd be harder and harder to get the family of three from Farmington Hills to come on down to the Big House or tune in to watch Michigan play Indiana if they're watching the equivalent of current MAC level talent take the field. It wouldn't happen overnight but given enough time, you'd see all those people who live and die for the Crimson Tide who have no affiliation to the University of Alabama start to turn their attention to the Birmingham Junior Falcons or whatever. 

Everyone Murders

March 27th, 2014 at 12:59 PM ^

In my mind fisking is the point-by-point debunking of someone's article or statement.  This reads more like cherry-picking through 298 (at current count) replies to the original board post on this and beating up on some of those replies.  Not that there's anything inherently wrong in that, but it's not really a fisk.

On my part, despite having been part of a team that negotiated a collective bargaining agreement years ago, I find the ramifications of the potential certification of CAPA pretty hard to decipher.  I get that folks making shrill pronouncements grates, but it is a novel situation in many ways, and goes to the core of what most folks who visit this site are passionate about.

Anyway, welcome back Angry Brian!  We missed you.


March 27th, 2014 at 1:00 PM ^

I was quoted here without credit!

Anyhow, you can't compare the attendace at Wisconsin vs. Minnesota and say that's because of the players.  They are completely different programs with different everything, including history and tradition and enrollments, etc.  

I purposely picked players who played for the same coach at the same school.  I think coaches impact revenue.  There's no doubt Beilein brings in more money than Amaker did, and that has to do with the players, but Beilein (and the AD for improving the facilities) had control over the players coming in.  

You can definitely argue that success impacts revenue, but then you need to determine who affects success, and how much of that is on the players vs the coaching staff or other factors.  My point was that I like the players because they play for Michigan, not Michigan because of the players who play for us.  Had Jake Ryan gone to OSU, I would hate him.  Because he came to Michigan, I love him.  Every year these players get replaced by new ones, and our fandom varies negligibly.

Come On Down

March 27th, 2014 at 1:10 PM ^

You may be right that any one individual player will not change one's love of the program but over the long term schools develop large fan bases due to sustained success. This success is due in large part to the high calibar of players that come through the program. Michigan has enough good will built up to carry it through its current rough patch but if this, or any other program, falls into an extended rut, fan interest would wane.