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Football workers of the world unite


This is really Erik’s beat, but the NLRB is holding a set of hearings this week on the nascent movement among college football players to organize a union. The first witness was former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter (he exhausted his eligibility last semester and plans to graduate in June). Colter is trying to convince the board that major college football players are first and foremost employees of the university, and only secondarily — indeed one might say incidentally — college students.

Some highlights from his testimony (which hasn’t concluded yet), as summarized by a friend who is following the hearings live:

-Colter said players were prohibited from scheduling classes before 11 AM because it interfered with practice.

-Colter said players can’t take eight-week classes in the summer. They conflict with a training camp.

-Colter detailed training camp schedule. Said during training camp (aug 1-31) the day is 6:30am-10pm.

-Colter: “I absolutely hate when people say we get a free ride or a free education.” Says they work for everything.

-Colter testified about a company hired by Northwestern tells players how to manage their social media. He says players’ speech is trained and closely monitored.

-Colter testified that players have a 40-50 hour work week during the season (for football-related activities alone), and that their football-related workload is around 30 hours per week during the off-season. 60 hour work weeks are typical during spring and fall practices, which together last seven weeks.

— Says he knows of only one player who has stayed home and missed summer workouts.

— During the nine-month school year players are separated into weight loss, gain and maintenance categories for meals. Colter was “sad to say [he] was on weight loss for a bit.”

Says “football makes it very hard for you to succeed academically. You have to sacrifice one and we’re not allowed to sacrifice football.”

Football players are discouraged from majoring in areas (like engineering) that would require too much studying to stay academically eligible.

Colter’s main point is that football players at Northwestern are primarily university employees rather than college students. NW’s coaches exercise significant control over their day-to-day activities (much more so than the typical boss in an ordinary workplace), the players are compensated by NW for playing football, and that most fundamentally they have what is in all but name full-time jobs — jobs that generate enormous profits, of which the workers see almost nothing.

What sorts of profits? TV rights alone for the new college football playoff will generate billions of dollars over the next decade:

The group that will administer the coming major-college football playoff agreed in principle for ESPN to broadcast the playoff games and “selected other games” for 12 years, it was announced Wednesday by the group formerly known as the Bowl Championship Series. The four-team playoff and the broadcast deal will begin after the 2014 season.

A person familiar with the negotiations said it is worth about $470 million annually or $5.64 billion for the duration of the contract

Another crucial point in all this is that, as major college football programs go, Northwestern is known for being close to the far end of the spectrum away from being a true “football factory” — the school won’t admit just anybody with a fast 40 time and an impressive bench press, the players are actually expected to go to class, etc.

If this is what major college football looks like at Northwestern, what does it look like in the SEC? (The answer to this rhetorical question is, “like the NFL if NFL teams had minimum wage payrolls and no labor union to deal with”).

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  • That’s actually fairly damning testimony. I’m rather shocked at the restrictions placed on academics. I knew feetsballers were encouraged to take gut courses and had schedules set up to fit around practices, but summer training from 6:30 AM to 10PM is insane!

    • Warren Terra

      Yeah, I ha a strong sense that the time and discipline requirements were extraordinary and precluded serious studies (mostly from some long-ago conversations with someone who had friends who were NCAA Division 1-A Football players), but to see the numbers and rules all laid out like that is shocking.

      • low-tech cyclist

        Seconded. Those facts add up to an unassailable argument that the players are employed by the University as football players, and that the academics are a sham and a cover-up.

        And as Campos points out, this is Northwestern, which may be the Division I-A school that cares the least about its football program. It’s gotta be even worse at Michigan and OSU, let alone the SEC.

        Hell, even if they weren’t going to pay the players, the least they could do is let them come back and have 4 tuition-free years of academics once their football careers are over and they can actually concentrate on their courses.

    • Orpho

      Not to mention that the idea that their “free ride” is compensation is ridiculous – benefits-eligible university employees, some of them who work as little 20 hours a week, are eligible for free tuition for 1-2 classes per semester at most public and semi-public universities.

      And that’s a bene that’s _in addition_ to their salary, health insurance, 401(k)/403(b), etc.

      • djw

        That’s a very good point; one that’s true everywhere I’ve worked, but that I’ve never thought of in this context.

      • Jordan

        awesome, very good point.

      • Orpho

        Also, holy hell, my horse for an edit button.

      • tree

        Generally, one needs to be a full time employee to be eligible for the free tuition these days. In the past, the children of long time employees (20 years)and tenured professors also received a full scholarship at the university where I worked.
        The professors’ kids could even take that scholarship with them to several other schools who had formed a pool for such purposes. The offspring scholarships seemed to have died off for new employees some time in the early 90s but they may still be available to the academics.

        • Orpho

          All the universities in the Boston area that have 5000+ students given tuition benefits for part-time employees who are benefits-eligible (but not to contractors, or non-benefits-eligible employees like technicians, work-study, and the like).

          They also still give the kids of full-time employees (the oft-maligned administrators as well as the virtuous professors)free full-ride in-state tuition.

          Given that YMMV as much with benefits as with, say, adjunct pay, I think it’s hard to generalize in all states and locales, but I’d put forward that it’s more common than not.

  • Schadenboner

    Let’s assume that the tuition, room, board, etc is payment-in-kind.

    By looking at the cost for an on-campus student you can value these in-kind payments.

    What does that work out to as an implied hourly rate if 50-60 hour weeks during the season and 30-40 during the off-season is the norm?

    • Warren Terra

      No, let’s not assume the tuition waiver is payment-in-kind. You pay tuition to access the educational resources of the university. Football players are precluded by their football responsibilities from accessing most of those resources.

      • Schadenboner

        Well, my point is that even under the most favorable possible interpretation the university has got to still be paying way under the minimum wage.

        Personally I don’t know how people can be ok with watching college sports.

        • DrS

          I’m very glad I never got too invested in college sports either.

          Hard enough feeling conflicted about the professional versions.

          • JMP

            The abuses of the NCAA at the top level make me very glad I went to a school that was Division 3, where there were sports teams but nobody gave a shit about that at all.

            Maybe some of the actual players did. Maybe.

            • I enjoy watching my local D3 sports teams. There’s no money in them, so there’s no meaningful degree of corruption/exploitation. The embody what, in my naive idealism, I think college sports SHOULD be about.

            • Johnnie

              Div III athletics are an interesting flipside to the big league version. Whereas many, if not most, Div I players are given scholarships under the assumption that teh athletics themselves will bring in money (or, you know, because it’s a Title IX requirement) Div III schools are barred from giving athletic scholarships. This essentially makes athletics at small schools into recruitment tools to attract affluent kids who want to continue participating in competitive sports.

              • Davis X. Machina

                There’s ‘barred’ and there’s barred.

        • Mike Schilling

          Most college sports are fine. It’s (unsurprisingly) the ones that generate lots of money that are corrupt. I know some guys who crewed, and they don’t have a bad word to say about it.

          • I know some guys who crewed

            As distinct from crude guys, ubiquitous at University.

            • PhoenixRising

              Welp, if you ask anyone who smelled us in our 8am classes (there’s time to eat 1200 calories OR shower after 5:30am workouts, but not both…) we were fairly crude, if you have any kind of aesthetic sense.

              Happily for me, the now-Mrs thought sweat was sexy.

              • It could be worse. Did you ever smell hockey pads in the pre-febreeze era?

                • Ahuitzotl

                  yes, from the other side of the campus

      • Sounds like something of a breach of contract, to me.

        Sure, they can take advantage and get a degree – but maybe not a degree in the field they might be most interested in career-wise after football, because it would interfere with college football related activities.

        Let’s face facts, if there ever really were “student-athletes,” then those days are long, long, gone.

        • Schadenboner

          They never were. Check out the Atlantic’s article on NCAA history. Professional athletes enrolled as “students”.

          Hell, just watch Horse Feathers. No, seriously, watch it. Great flick.

          As always with The Atlantic, the comments section will make you want to gargle bleach.

          • Oh, I practically know that movie by heart!

            And thanks – I’d actually used that EXACT SAME Marx Brothers movie as an example of this, years and years ago.

            I think I’m starting to get that Oltimer’s Disease (sic).

          • Mike Schilling

            “Where they always sleep. In the classrooms!”

        • JL

          There are plenty of student-athletes, but they aren’t the ones playing Division I football.

          • Cardinal

            I TAd at Stanford as a grad student. Almost all of my many athletes were also good students. The exceptions were the football and mens basketball players, who seemed like bright kids that were clearly not doing the work. It is just a handful of sports that are the issue.

            I also suspect this is mostly a male student issue. Most of my elite female athletes from popular sports, including people on national teams, seemed to be put more into the classes than the male athletes in the money making sports.

            • BigHank53

              Very few female athletes harbor delusions about their potential careers as professional athletes.

            • Captain Subtext

              As a former Student Athlete at Northwestern (Field events from Track and Field) I can attest that the students in the non-football/basketball were still very high caliber athletes but were also top notch students. Most of the track team was majoring in engineering; fitting in an engineering degree with 20-30 hours a week practice is no easy feat but most did it very well.

          • snarkout

            This recent profile of former FSU safety Myron Rolle and how he torpedoed his likely status as a first-round NFL pick by becoming a Rhodes Scholar provides an interesting complement.

          • Jordan

            Not quite fair. I did my undergrad at Rice (actually D1!), and there were more than a handful of smarties doing really tough degrees while simultaneously doing the football thing.

            I have absolutely no idea how they did it (Hermione’s time travel device?), but they did.

            • JL

              That’s fair (also, huh, Rice is D1?).

              My intent wasn’t to insult the intelligence of D1 football players. My intent was to say more or less what the OP is saying – that coaches force them to be athletes and not students. Relatively few people, even smart people who want to do well in school, can pull off being committed full-time students while also doing the equivalent of working a full-time-and-more job (and a highly exhausting job at that).

              My undergrad was D3, but the crew teams, for some reason, were D1. I did crew as a freshman (I had never done it before, but this was a school that gives no athletic scholarships and you can walk on to most sports with no experience). The coaching staff were mostly new. There was a fair amount of conflict between the athletes and the coaches that year (and our head coach actually bailed after that year because of it). The coaching staff were unhappy that the athletes (who like I said were all walk-ons with no scholarship or legal commitment to the program) were unwilling to work as many hours as the athletes that they were used to. The athletes were unhappy that the coaches didn’t appear to understand what frickin’ school they were at.

              I quit after freshman year. I enjoyed the sport, but I could stay on the team, or I could do two or three non-NCAA-sports student activities (or study more, or hang out with friends more) in the amount of time that quitting the team freed up.

      • Wiley

        Scholarship athletes do gain access to educational resources that the average student does not – team tutors – so their
        loss is offset somewhat. This access however is controlled by the team so it is another instance of being “managed” to a much larger degree than the average student.

    • wengler

      Tuition, room, board is like getting paid in company scrip though. They aren’t getting the same education as other students because their primary focus is football. Room and board is all up to whether the football program allows you to live in an off-campus apartment and buy your own meals. The university football program controls all aspects of these athletes’ lives, which is sort of the whole point of the unionization drive.

      • NonyNony

        Room and board is like getting paid in company scrip.

        From what Colter says up there, and from what I’ve heard about Big 10 schools, the tuition part is like getting paid in a gift card for the company’s gift shop. With restrictions on it so that you can only buy a handful of items.

        • Lee Rudolph

          But you also get several free lottery tickets, with much better than MegaMillions payout odds!

          One’s the NFL lottery. The others (which are bundled into the former, but also given separately) are the various Long-Term Disability lotteries‐several choices there, but Brain Damage is a perennial favorite.

          • Breadbaker

            I don’t know anyone who ever suffered a concussion or an injury that left them with difficulty walking while buying a MegaMillions ticket. And the odds of making the NFL, or more particularly making the sort of NFL living that every D1 football or basketball player thinks he will get, are not much better than MegaMillions. The NBA has only two rounds of its draft and a lot of the draftees never play a minute in the NBA. I have a colleague who played basketball in Europe and I don’t think he thinks he won any lotteries.

    • dave

      Using this link: http://collegemeasures.org/4-year_colleges/institution/University-of-Georgia-GA/scorecard/cost-per-student/

      I calculated the University of Georgia ($12,000/student) as paying its full scholarship athletes $5.13/hour (assuming half the year at 55 hours/wk and half the year at 35 hrs/wk).

      I am terrible at math so I beg someone to check my numbers.

      • Warren Terra

        When calculating the 55 hour weeks, remember they’re really 62.5 hour weeks – mandatory time-and-a-half for overtime!

        • dave

          I don’t think they qualify for overtime. They are “seasonal” workers.

      • postmodulator

        Don’t forget different rates for in-state/out-of-state students, though.

    • JMP

      But then there are the other benefits; like the guarantee that, if a football player rapes any other student, the university will do everything in their power to cover it up.

      • UserGoogol

        Many other students get that “generous amenity,” though.

  • wengler

    The most damning facts are also the most easily accessible. The head coaches at D1 universities are making multiple million dollar salaries. The university and NCAA contracts with companies in sponsorship deals worth tens of millions. But most damning is that these players are prohibited from nearly all job/activities that could make them money to support themselves and their families.

  • ChrisS

    A few years ago, I was in a class with a lacrosse player at fairly predominant lacrosse school (with much larger revenue generating sports as well). I was and wasn’t surprised at how little he actually was in class. And mostly it was because he was traveling for games or had mandatory weight training schedules and team meetings. The kid seemed bright enough and was actively trying to participate in the class, which was a 300-level hard science class.

    As for the free education bullshit, well, just because something has value, doesn’t make it valuable. Especially for someone that has no use for a college education in general studies. What if your employer started handing out Red Lobster gift cards instead of paychecks – people would revolt (or get insanely fat on cheddar biscuits).

    • somethingblue

      What if your employer started handing out Red Lobster gift cards instead of paychecks

      Probably just a matter of time.

      • catclub

        He probably knows Red Lobster is about to fold, AND they are counterfeit.

    • UserGoogol

      At least gift cards are transferable. (Not necessarily officially, and they aren’t the most liquid asset in the world, but you can exchange them for cash if you really want to.)

    • Red Lobster, home to the finest in Disney villains.

  • Anonymous

    I wish a similar testimonial forum would be provided for law graduates from 2008-present describing their current job status, financial situation, and debt loads. Maybe then the ABA or NLRB could be alerted to the abuses ongoing in the legal “profession”.

    • Anonymous

      I have zero sympathy for lawyers. Should have gotten something more useful like a STEM degree, but that would actually require intelligence in something that matters like math.

      • Schadenboner

        Ok, Mr. Math,

        Let’s assume that some percentage of law students instead got STEM degrees (for the purposes of discussion let’s say that every law student who could have been a successful STEM graduate decided to major in such a field).

        Will the increase in competition for jobs that such an increase in the number of STEM graduates implies tend to increase or to decrease the wage rate of the median STEM graduate?

        Show your work.

      • Denverite

        A lot of lawyers have STEM degrees.

        • Tyto

          A former classmate has a PhD in physics. Luckily for him and his family, he did very well both in school and in the job market.

          • TribalistMeathead

            I used to work for a lawyer whose undergrad degree was in aviation engineering. Really came in handy when he was assigned to a case involving a dispute over an aircraft lease between the manufacturer and the airline it was leased to.

      • sharculese

        Man, the list of people you irrationally fear and resent just grows by the day, doesn’t it?

        I have a JD AND I’m better at math than you.

      • Captain Haddock

        The law doesn’t matter? At all?

      • JL

        1) Plenty of lawyers have STEM degrees

        2) STEM degrees are hardly surefire protection against unemployment or underemployment. Especially at the bachelor’s level. At least as of a few years ago (2009-2010 data) unemployment for recent math and computer science grads was less than a percentage point lower than it was for the general recent grad population, which, while helpful, is hardly any sort of job guarantee.

        3) Do you WANT people who aren’t good at math to have jobs that “matter” that require a bunch of math? Maybe it’s better when people work in fields that they are good at.

        4) Even if you only look at jobs that the right-wing values, there are some obvious non-STEM ones. Military linguists, intelligence analysts, CEOs, etc.

        P.S. I am a grad student in a physical science field.

        • DrS

          Also, which science? I don’t think that a BS in Biology with no more advanced work gets you that much of a leg up.

          • Davis X. Machina

            I have nephews and nieces who went that route — can’t even get in the door as a spear-carrier, despite a widely touted biotech boom. A lot of process work is automated… the days when you could just walk in and work in QC or the like is gone.

          • Linnaeus

            In my experience, it didn’t. My first job out of undergrad was as a research assistant/lab tech and it paid less than 20K a year (this was in the mid-90s, but still). And I was still competing against people with advanced degrees.

            • wjts

              That’s what a friend of mine with bachelor’s in biology told me circa 1998/1999 when he was working as a lab tech: the degree he had qualified him for that job and nothing else in pure biology.

        • Rigby Reardon

          3) Do you WANT people who aren’t good at math to have jobs that “matter” that require a bunch of math? Maybe it’s better when people work in fields that they are good at.

          Like most conservatives, JenBob sees workers as just another interchangeable part of the production process. You don’t ask a conveyer belt if it’d rather be working in a microchip manufacturing facility or in a cardboard box factory; why should you ask workers what they would prefer to do?

        • quercus

          > Even if you only look at jobs that the right-wing
          > values, there are some obvious non-STEM ones. Military
          > linguists, intelligence analysts, CEOs, etc.

          I’m going to have to ask if you have any evidence that the right-wing does in fact value military linguists or competent intelligence analysts. Rather the opposite, it seems to me.

      • dr. fancypants

        Should have gotten something more useful like a STEM degree, but that would actually require intelligence in something that matters like math.

        Curiously, the only people who claim that STEM degrees are the solution to unemployment never have STEM degrees themselves. My hypothesis is that anyone with a bare minimum of numeracy knows better.

        • sharculese

          Jenny has a STEM degree. It’s a major part of his background that he made himself miserable getting a degree he didn’t like and hates anyone who didn’t.

          He flips out every time I point out that that’s nobody’s fault but his, usually accuses me of being transgender (which I guess is a insult in his weird little mind.)

          • Lee Rudolph

            Jenny has a STEM degree

            Say, rather, has claimed that. Maybe, maybe not. Solely on h/h posting history, it’s somewhat hard to believe h/s managed to complete any kind of 2-to-4-year degree (but of course h/h physical and mental condition might have declined to its apparent present level from a sufficiently higher level to have once made the relevant effort possible; or, less likely but I suppose possible, h/s might be a well-adjusted, gainfully employed, happy and well educated person with just one weird bad habit!).

            • sharculese

              I honestly believe that about him, just because it seems to be the only thing besides gay people that really gets a reaction out of him, and also because he does seem legit super bitter about it.

          • Comp Sci, by any chance? (I am not deriding people in the comp sic field, just noting that a lot of internet trolls I’ve encountered seem to have that degree. Then again, Bin Laden had a civ e degree, like me…)

            • sharculese

              I always assumed it was Comp Sci, yes.

          • dr. fancypants

            It’s a major part of his background that he made himself miserable getting a degree he didn’t like and hates anyone who didn’t.

            Fascinating. While that’s almost certainly an insufficient explanation for Jenny’s trollfulness, it does explain a lot.

    • Warren Terra

      Quite different. You can argue law students are making a bad bargain, or even that they’re getting defrauded – indeed, Campos has spent a lot of time making some version of this argument, though quite where on that spectrum he’d place it you’d have to ask him. But they’re not laboring for the benefit of the law school, all the school gets out of them is their tuition. And the law students are receiving the very best law degree their school can give them (and that they can study for), albeit that many law schools can only offer a law degree that in practice has limited value.

      The football players, on the other hand, are laboring mightily for the university’s benefit, and they’re not remotely getting the educational opportunities an enrolled student normally has access to.

  • Learner

    The whole concept of “student-athlete”, particularly involving Div1 FB or basketball, is a total sham and farce. Instead what should happen is the NCAA should just run an NCAA professional league and treat the players as employees. These teams would then be affiliated with certain schools but with no requirement that the players actually be students.

    Let’s just do this and end the sham. Div1 FB and BB is basically just a parallel professional development league for the NFL or NBA.

    We are know that MOST players are there just for FB or BB. So let them be there for only that and stop the charade. If we want to make the players have some plausible connection to the affiliated school, then give them a “lifetime” scholarship to attend and complete a degree at any point in their lives but with no obligation to do so. That way they could focus on the real reason for being there and if it doesn’t pan out, they could go back to school for real then.

    • catclub

      “f we want to make the players have some plausible connection to the affiliated school, then give them a “lifetime” scholarship to attend and complete a degree at any point in their lives but with no obligation to do so.”

      Good idea.

    • Warren Terra

      I have some sympathy for players like Richard Sherman, those rarities who manage to excel in sports while apparently still being quite serious students. But the system makes this incredibly difficult even for those who aspire to it, and as you say it’s clear many or even most “student athletes” are athletes first, and students a distant second or worse.

      I’d offer a slight amendment to your proposal: rather than reforumulating the existing NCAA as an organizer of avowedly professional leagues, it should be completely reconceived. Division 1 Revenue Sports should be recast as minor leagues; any affiliation with any schools should be recast in the form of scholarships the players can redeem once their playing careers are over. The affiliations can be retained for branding and merchandising purposes, and so the incredible facilities lavished on NCAA revenue sports aren’t wasted.

      If it is desirable to have something like the NCAA that arranges lower-stakes contests between schools in non-revenue, non-televised sports, a reborn NCAA can arrange these things – after everyone with any significant responsibility for the current system has been fired. Starting with Emmert, who made clear his love of Revenue Sports and his disdain for Education while at the UW.

      • Lee Rudolph

        any affiliation with any schools should be recast in the form of scholarships the players can redeem once their playing careers are over

        if they haven’t won the Brain-Damage lottery!!! (And really, very few of them will, all things considered.)

        • postmodulator

          With that said, the Injury Lottery Leading To You Losing Your Scholarship is one of the most evil things about the NCAA — to the point where I literally didn’t believe it when I first found out.

          These are kids. You break ’em, you bought ’em.

      • Orpho

        I have some sympathy for players like Richard Sherman, those rarities who manage to excel in sports while apparently still being quite serious students. But the system makes this incredibly difficult even for those who aspire to it, and as you say it’s clear many or even most “student athletes” are athletes first, and students a distant second or worse.

        This is all the more reason to have an _actual minor league_ for basketball and football rather than college minor leagues. People who really want to go to college can go! But they have to qualify, and they have to also be serious students, and it’s not for the faint of heart, frankly. And the Sidney Crosbys of the world can enter minor league/be drafted immediately*.

        *And yes, I fully accept that 18 year olds shouldn’t, as I said until last year, be on the same field as the Ray Lewises and all those players who’ve been on “Adderall” for the last 5 years. They need to bulk up. So, farm teams and minor leagues. In my pony candyland dreams.

        • Learner

          The NBA already has a minor league called the NBDL. Nevertheless it hasn’t created a situation where only serious students go to Div1 BB while the rest go to the NBDL. There are various reasons for this but it comes down to the popularity of college BB. It only works for the MLB because no one cares or watches college baseball and it is hardly even aired.

          • drkrick

            European professional leagues are another more lucrative option for elite high school players that have no interest in academics.

      • FlipYrWhig

        Division 1 Revenue Sports should be recast as minor leagues

        Division I revenue sports should be recast as _major_ leagues. That’s basically how sports works everywhere else in the world, isn’t it? At the end of your secondary education, if you want to pursue being an athlete, you find a club that pays and trains you. There’s no good reason why post-secondary education ever had to have anything to so with high-level sports competition. Instead of University of Alabama Crimson Tide, paying coaches as public employees and giving the players nothing, just organize as Crimson Tide F.C., with revenues derived from the SEC. If Crimson Tide F.C. wants to keep its players together for more than the length of a typical college education, fine by me. Maybe one day they join the NFL because they’re one of the best 32 football teams of any kind in the nation, and Buccaneers F.C. gets relegated to the SEC to rebuild.

        • FlipYrWhig

          “Major league” in this case meaning not organized into a farm system for a parent team, the way current minor leagues work — but didn’t use to.

    • Hogan

      It’s a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham.

  • SOB

    Football Workers of the World Unite

    This makes perfect sense that this is used here at LGM since this phrase is a famous quote from the Communist Manifesto.

    No surprise here.

    • sharculese

      Good job, jenny. You explained the joke.

    • Schadenboner

      [[That opera clapping scene from Citizen Kane.gif]]

    • Vance Maverick

      Curses, our true affinities exposed. How could we have been so careless? What will the Comintern say?

      • catclub

        and it wasn’t Untie, so we can’t claim dyslexia/ Yglesias disease.

      • Mike Schilling

        Depends. It is an unpaid Cominternship?

        • Davis X. Machina

          +1, Tovarich! Is good.

        • Schadenboner

          In Soviet Russia, Internship pay YOU!

          Wait, shit…

      • wjts

        What will the Comintern say?

        I don’t know, but at our inevitable show trial, I’m blaming you, comrade.

        • Ken

          We will all denounce one another, repeatedly, for the cameras. That’s the point of a show trial.

          • Vance Maverick

            And photoshop one another mutually out of the resulting images.

    • DrS

      A specter is haunting the NCAA

      • calling all toasters

        Political power grows out of a barrel of Gatorade.

        • PhoenixRising


      • CD

        A revolution is not a tailgate party.

    • sharculese

      This is actually a predictable effect of jenny’s STEM obsession – thinking basic history and lit facts are somehow obscure.

      • calling all toasters

        JenBob: I’ll bet you didn’t know that Lincoln was a Republican!!!!1!!!

        Or was that a quote from conservative intellectual supernova Rand Paul??2????

      • DrS

        Me: something innocuous about expanding banking regulation in light of that whole thing
        Wing nut uncle with engineering degree: you can’t do that cause free market and it’ll interfere with market signals and that’s just Econ 101.
        Me: yeah, you know my degree is in Econ. I have some awareness of the..
        WNUWED:… Let me tell you about Hayek!!

        • DrS

          Oh, and SEK was in the background. Wearing some sort of “hat”.

        • drkrick

          It’s odd how few of the people who cite “Econ 101” understand that it’s really a discrediting argument. Would Uncle Engineering have tried to build a bridge on his own after the first semester of Freshmen year?

    • Warren Terra

      Pancakes are the opiate of the masses!

      • Warren Terra

        Oh, and tortillas are the opiate of the masas.

        • Hogan

          And mint juleps are the opiate of the Massa.

          • calling all toasters

            Chowdah is the opiate of the Masshole.

            • Correction: chowdah is the opiate of the Bassomatic.

          • sharculese

            Mint juleps are the best, tho.

    • wjts

      Have the Smiths fallen to the Red Menace? Intrepid Boy Detective JenBob is on the case!

  • Mike Schilling

    Colter testified about a company hired by Northwestern tells players how to manage their social media.

    Of all the things he mentioned, that’s the only positive. All teenagers should get one of those.

    “Yes, you do look nice there, and he is quite evil, but a topless death threat might not be the wisest course of action.”

    • postmodulator

      Like it’s for the athletes’ benefit? It’s to avoid repeats of things like that Ohio State player who last year Tweeted “We ain’t here to play school.”

      • Mike Schilling

        I’m sure it’s there to stop them embarrassing the school, but it has the added effect of helping them not embarrass themselves. That kid was a third-stringer who hadn’t played a down. He’s going to be in the real world sooner than later, and a reputation for being aggressively ignorant is not going to help him.

  • Joshua

    What’s funny is that this was happening alongside the new NBA commissioner’s plan to raise the minimum age for players; effectively forcing the most talented players to donate two years worth of labor to their school rather than one, and costing the players millions of dollars.

    Of course, the talking heads on ESPN and the like love the idea, saying that “the league hates one-and-done, teams hate one-and-done, universities hate one-and-done.” Nothing about what the players want, of course.

    • BigHank53

      …when did what the players want start mattering?

      • Joshua

        Yea, of course, but it sure is depressing. Just once I’d love to hear one of these guys wonder out loud how players would feel about playing for free for one more year, risking injury, etc., without getting any say.

        Of course, I think sports fandom in this country is built on this idea that the players don’t deserve their high salaries and are screwing their deserving billionaire owners.

        • postmodulator

          Well, the belief is actually that the athletes are screwing the fans. The owners aren’t even on the radar unless they start acting cartoonishly evil — the Steinbrenners, the Modells.

    • medrawt

      One of the nice things about the NBA is that it provides, at least for someone like me, just about the lowest % of “ethical issues that make me really uncomfortable” of any major team sport, while still being obvious that the owners/league are predictably greedy and obtuse. It’s depressingly dependable that every major initiative in NBA labor relations comes down to the ownership wanting to enact rules to protect itself from its own poor decision making.

      One and done players, like high schoolers before them, are usually the best players available, and the best way to pick up a budding superstar. (OKC is not sad that Kevin Durant couldn’t build more name recognition at Texas before making the jump.) BUT SOMETIMES you whiff wildly, and maybe if you’d gotten to see another year’s worth of that guy you would’ve known better. But to just make a blanket decision not to draft freshmen would mean you’d miss out when another team was willing to be more daring. I KNOW, LET’S MAKE RULES TO PROTECT US FROM OUR INABILITY TO SCOUT EFFECTIVELY!

      • Paul Campos

        The NBA Players Union is for obvious reasons also strongly in favor of increasing barriers to entry for young players not yet in the league.

        • CaptBackslap, YOLO Edition

          That would be a switch for them. They’ve normally opposed the rule, for reasons I can’t comprehend; Stern wanted the minimum age to be 20 last time.

          • Paul Campos

            You’re right — the union membership is actually in favor of going back to the old pre-2007 system when high school grads could declare.

      • postmodulator

        The flip side of that is that professional basketball in this country is played almost uniformly by awful, awful human beings.

        • Brian

          For every NBA player you name that is an ‘awful’ human being, I bet that I can name one who isn’t.

          Or was your post sarcasm?

          Or was it a pun about their uniforms?

        • Medrawt

          As opposed to the cuddly darlings patrolling the gridiron?

          Hey, I’m willing to stipulate that relative to the population as a whole, NBA players aren’t the awesomest human beings; the typical development of an NBA player isn’t what you’d look for in crafting a well adjusted A+ citizen. But, at least as far as public knowledge goes, most of them are maybe not the best folks in a way I don’t remotely give a shit about. They’re not my role models, and if/when I have kids I’ll disabuse them of that notion when the time comes. Why do I care if a guy comes off like an asshole? I care when guys start hurting other people, and the NBA isn’t leading the race in that category, far as I can tell.

        • Rigby Reardon

          As is Major League Baseball, to name one of many other sports largely populated by jerks.

    • James E. Powell

      I saw the a guy on ESPN yesterday. He said a minimum age of 20, maybe even 21, would be great for the player. They just don’t know it because they’re so young and inexperienced.

      • Twopoint Five


    • drkrick

      One of the guys who does the morning show for ESPN Radio/ESPN2 actually did point out that this was good for everybody except the players while reporting on Silver’s statement. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he was the only one who did so

  • Matt

    In related but not identical news, a Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader is suing the team for not paying her minimum wages. First link is to the lawsuit, second is to NYDN article that first discussed it.



    • The prophet Nostradumbass

      There are a number of Oakland Raiders cheerleaders doing something similar.

    • Rigby Reardon

      I don’t recommend the comments section on that Daily News article.

  • e.a.f.

    this ought to be good. Do hope the college players win the suit. Everybody makes millions and billions on college sports, everybody except the student/players. some of their coaches are making more than a million a year. if a student/player is injured and can no longer play, they get the boot, not even an education.

    It is high time college sports were regulated and student/players got a of the pie. it isn’t not for profit sports. Too many universities and others make way too much money for that. The college sport industry needs to understand slavery went out a long time ago.

    Young people play college sports because it is a chance to get into professional sports, but few do. Like any other “entertainer” they ought to have a contract which provides for a very large salary or the professional teams ought to be able to hire/recruit players straight out of high school. the rules which restrict players from joining professional teams, need to go also. colleges just like the system because they get to make a lot of money.

    • drkrick

      I’ll be happy to discuss the argument that the “free ride” scholarship is a fair deal for stars in revenue-producing sports when their head coaches and athletic directors start working for the cash equivalent themselves.

      • FlipYrWhig

        Or the coaches could be paid and evaluated like faculty. “Coach Saban, this year you’ll be teaching a 3/3 load in Kinesiology, and we expect a book or several journal articles if you hope to receive tenure.”

  • Philip Arlington

    The most practical thing an ordinary person can do about this is not to watch any of the games. I’m English, and I found it liberating when I accepted that English professional football will never be a healthy, socially useful part of our national life again and gave up on it. Realistically, abandoning big time sport is also the only effective option open to Americans who don’t like what it has become.

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