Recipe for unionization

Start with an ever-increasing demand on student-athletes’ time

Georgia coach Mark Richt was asked on Tuesday how much time players spend on football during the season.

“A lot,” he said. “We’ve got a 20-hour rule that’s time that is countable, which is film study, strength and conditioning, practice. For the things that don’t count … is when you’re in the training room, before and after, or any kind of film work they do on their own. Gameday counts as three hours, but if you leave on Friday for an away game and don’t come back till midnight the day of the game, that’s a long time too, you know? So there’s a lot of hours that are put in and it’s pretty amazing for them to do that and then do other things that they’ve got to do academically as well. … They don’t have a lot of free time. Sometimes we talk about teaching them how to manage their time, and they look at us like: ‘What time is that that you’re talking about?’ So they put a lot of hours in.”

Throw in some frustration over a lack of player empowerment

“But what this does … it ensures that players have a voice and whatever route this goes and whatever structure comes from college sports, we have input. We’re out there sacrificing so much. We’re a big part of what college sports is today and the revenue that’s generated off of it. We deserve to have a say in that. We deserve a seat at the table.”

Add a dash of hypocrisy for zest…

I don’t buy the player safety [argument]. Nobody stood up for player safety when they wanted to add games. It seems to me that every time player safety comes up, it’s an auxiliary reason to make money somewhere else. To me, common sense [now] is the opposite of what Coach Bielema was saying. Slowing it down isn’t going to create greater player safety. Creating less contact is. Widening the field. Lengthening the field. Putting fewer guys on the field. Putting smaller guys on the field. Put fiber optics in the helmets so you can see how hard they’re hitting on every play.

And, voilà!  The perfect shit sandwich recipe.


Filed under Look For The Union Label

66 responses to “Recipe for unionization

  1. You always do a nice job of pulling multiple pieces together in one post. Definitely one of your blogging strengths.

    • Thanks. My posting on the subject isn’t about singing the praises of a players’ union. It’s about what’s brought CFB to the point where a players’ union may become a reality.

      I’d ask anybody who rails against unionization to consider what options student-athletes had to get the attention of Emmert, Slive, Delany, et al. and have their concerns heard. I don’t think holding their breaths until their faces turned blue was a viable choice.

      • Scorpio Jones, III

        And that is the point. All the wadded panties about “unions” completely ignore that the players were left with no choice, none.

        That major college football is run like a thinly veiled plantation is simply wrong on so many levels it boggles the mind.

        A hard rain’s gonna fall.

        • I think you are hitting on the very reason there is such opposition to this from some fans. When you refer to it as a plantation (and even players have dropped the slavery label on it in the past) people get riled up. To apply such a charged term to what we spend so much time watching, reading, blogging, etc. about, it generates some very visceral reactions when there really is a lot of common ground.

          Most people want the players to get better treatment; to have more say in their time, health, school, and other things; and perhaps to even get a little more spending money. Most actually want what is in the players’ best interest.

          But when you call it slavery… it is completely voluntary after all. They aren’t being beaten and killed. They aren’t being forced to procreate against their will. And, they aren’t being tracked down by dogs when they try to escape. So, it really is nothing like a plantation.

          The players must be getting something out of the deal or they would have to be the stupidest people on the planet to put themselves through what they do for nothing. Their benefits are largely intangible (the value of an education, the value of expert(?) coaching, the value of having your name on ESPN 24/7, a shot at the NFL, etc.), but they are still benefits. So, now the debate is the adequacy of the slice of the pie, right?

          It seems, like the Senator says, it is past due for the NCAA to come to a better model where players can get a little more pie before the whole shithouse goes up in flames… so to speak. I think better health care, especially long-term health care would be good. Remember the $1B settlement the NFL had? Think about how many more players played for the NCAA. I think a full cost of attendance scholarship would be good. There are other things on the table that the NCAA should find religion about… and really quick-like.

          • Scorpio Jones, III

            A few rich universities, administrators, coaches, etc are getting rich while labor has no say in their voluntary contribution to the bottom line, if that does not sound like a cotton-pickin plantation, please enlighten me.

            Gosh, it never occurred to me the plantation theme would stir up some folks. Folks need to be stirred. Or would you rather continue to just ignore the obvious, which is certainly easier….just sit in the stands and yell. That’s worked out great.

            “Most people want the players to get better treatment; to have more say in their time, health, school, and other things; and perhaps to even get a little more spending money. Most actually want what is in the players’ best interest.”

            Some of that may even be true, although I don’t see a lot of evidence of that mind set here.

            • Rhymerdawg

              Your argument hangs on the “no say in their voluntary contribution to the bottom line.” However, if something is voluntary then there is a “say” in it. Just because it is not what you wanted to do doesn’t mean you have “no say” in it. If something is voluntary then you can quit and do something else if you don’t want to submit to the powers that be. I mean honestly if we were this upset about Obamacare where there is “no say in their INVOLUNTARY constribution” then we would be in a better shape as a country.

              I am going to have to say while I agree there should be health care for players does’t mean that the argument presented is a good one. My rebuttal is going to stand on the fact that quitting is always an option. Just because there is no good alternative to what you want to do is not a valid argument. Simply because what you want and what you can do are two different things.

              • Rhymerdawg

                Let me continue to say that I think unionization is the best way to get a voice. Please don’t confuse my rebuttal of your argument as a means to rebut the unionization of players.

              • Well, as somebody else commented earlier, schools have the option of quitting athletics if they don’t want to submit.

            • They could quit and not die. That’s why it is not at all like a plantation. In our society, though, we believe to get people to come to the middle, we have to go extreme one way or another. Instead the reaction we get is extreme in the opposite direction. So, by using the word plantation and trying to stir people up, you evoke the opposite reaction you are after.

              As I said, I think the players should get more. I think the NCAA should reform. But, athletes are getting something out of the deal, or you wouldn’t see so many young guys trying their damnedest to be the next signee for State U. I could be wrong, but I don’t recall reading about camps and tryouts and walk-ons at the local plantation.

      • Yeah that was the point I made on Facebook with some friends who were debating it back when the Northwestern players very first filed. At that point I didn’t think they had a chance in hell of winning (shows how much I know) but my point was that they had to do something to get the issues into the public eye. In general, I’m no fan of unions, but I don’t mind them using this route to get the issues out in the open. Especially the medical coverage, transfer rules, things like that, that go beyond pay for play.

      • SC Dawg

        I find it comical that you think players at any school other than Northwestern and a few other private schools even understand what unionization is or means. Or further, that they know who Mark Emmert, Jim Delaney, et al are either. I would bet everything I have that if you polled every player at UGA and asked who either of them are, less than 10% would know. College football players in mass don’t have concerns their voices aren’t being heard, they want more free stuff just like the majority of Americans who are receiving free stuff. That’s it. That’s all this is. “Give me more than you’re giving me now” and you rationalize that sentiment by saying it’s not fair that universities are making money off them and sight examples like Johnny Manziel. Who’s the left tackle for A&M? Don’t know? Me either. There’s a handful of players, just a handful, who may legitimately have a claim that they, their likeness and name, are making the their schools money. Other than that handful, nada. Further, that you think right to work states are going to pass legislation to allow unionization is beyond naive and hilarious. You lawyers are all the same…chasing money in the name of a self-righteous cause.

        Look! There’s an ambulance, senator…better start running.

        • It makes your argument so much stronger when you resort to cheap personal shots.

          • SC Dawg

            Truth hurts.

            • Truth? Dude, I don’t litigate.

              • SC Dawg

                Again, you should be smart enough to realize that this will never happen. No right to work state will ever allow unionization, not even for Saban.

                • I believe I quoted Ed Kilgore on this to you the other day:

                  There could even be a bit of an inversion of the usual “race to the bottom” that has contributed so much to the erosion of working conditions and bargaining rights around the country. The University of Alabama isn’t going to have unionized football players any time soon, if ever. But if Nick Saban decides benefits provided by, say, Notre Dame or Southern Cal might cost him a single five-star recruit, how long will it take him to insist that Bama meet the competition? Not long, I would guess.

                  That makes sense to me. But what do I know – we’re just a couple of fucking lawyers.

                  • SC Dawg

                    Again, not even Saban has the ability to get union legislation passed. So what is the point? All this is going to lead to is Northwestern dropping football. And as to what lawyers know…well, if y’all knew half of what you think you know, y’all would be pretty smart.

                    • Sixty years ago, you’d have sworn Southern universities would never integrate, let alone integrate their football teams. Times change.

                      Besides, is there some rule that says there has to be a union in place for Saban to match benefits given to unions at other schools?

                    • SC Dawg

                      You don’t know what I would have thought sixty years ago, but that’s the problem with all lawyers, your self-righteous arrogance leads you to believe that you are a lot smarter than you are. Oh, and comparing player unionization to integration? Straight from the democrat play book. Play the race card anytime you’ve been checkmated. Well done Harry Reid, Jr., well done. Pathetic.

                    • I was using “you” in the colloquial sense. Sorry if that confused you.

                      I don’t know why you’re trying to bait me with all the personal insults, but it’s working. Keep it up and you can take your act to the AJ-C blogs. They love a good food fight there.

                    • SC DAWG

                      So apparently disagreeing with you is fighting and is grounds for expulsion from your so very important blog? Got it. Quite a little regime you’re running here comrade.

        • Hackerdog

          So, if only a few players are being exploited, but most aren’t, that’s OK? What’s the threshold for exploitation before it becomes a problem? If your son was the next Manziel, would you be content to know that your son was being denied the opportunity to profit from his own likeness because nobody would want the tackle’s autograph?

          • SC Dawg

            I would be thrilled knowing that he received a 100% free education to include room and board and a stipend check in exchange for his athletic prowess. Heck of a deal for the parents.

        • The left tackle for A&M is Jake Matthews. He’s about to be a top 10 draft pick. Just cause your ignorant doesn’t mean the rest of us are.

    • AthensHomerDawg

      I come here for the musical palette cleansing myself.😉


    The unhappy players could always quit playing ball. They would have more free time that way. They might not be able to afford to pay for school, eat and have a roof over their head though. Life is full of tough decisions.

    • I don’t get this line of reasoning. By extension, doesn’t it justify letting a school/coach treat players any way they damned well please? If not, where are you drawing the limits?

      • PTC DAWG

        I think the way they are treated now is just fine. They have rules/limits now. If anything less practice time might be worth looking at.

        Coaches pay, now that is what is out if hand.

    • I Wanna Red Cup

      The NCAA makes millions on player likenesses in video games, jersey sales, etc. But, when AJ Green sells a jersey he was given as part of bowl swag he cannot play 4 games? And the coaches can run them off when they decide they like someone else better, or leave and get more money somewhere else but the player cannot leave without sitting out a year. Wake up man.

    • C.S.

      “Take it or leave it” has never been a very convincing legal argument. Or moral argument. Or any sort of argument, really.

    • And we could just not have a football team to root for on Saturdays too.

  3. KitteryDawg

    According to Darren Rovell, ESPN Sports Business Editor, if the Northwestern players were to unionize, ALL expenses paid on their behalf (tuition, room, board, tutors, apparel, etc.) would be considered taxable income and could create a tax liability to the player of $15K to $20K per year.

    • GaskillDawg

      Okay, your point? That is a factor the players may have to consider before voting. If that is the case it is their decision, not mine. By the way, I understand that current tax laws allow the IRS to tax the value of the benefits but it has not. I do not know whose comments are accurate and whose are not in that regard.

    • AthensHomerDawg

      Ahem! “Rovell attended and graduated cum laude from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, in 2000, where he is on the advisory board for graduate programs in sports administration.[2] He majored in theater instead of journalism, believing it would be better practice for TV appearances. However, he also hosted a college radio show about sports business

  4. Normaltown Mike

    I’m just glad that these greedy 1%ers won’t be able to take advantage of the 400+ scholar athletes at Georgia that don’t play football.

    With this bold move, the Northwestern football players are going to make sure that the girls volleyball, equestrian, hoops, softball, soccer, field hockey, fencing, gymnastics and rugby team are given their “fair share”.

    • Maybe.

      But then I attended the NCAA convention earlier this month, where Duke lacrosse player Maddie Salamone — representing the organization’s largely ceremonial Student-Athlete Advisory Committee — got up in front of 800 Division I administrators and lamented, “The student-athlete voice is not as meaningful as we have been led to believe in the past.”

      Guess it depends on your point of view. No doubt yours is the more authoritative, though.

      • Normaltown Mike

        “The student-athlete voice is not as meaningful as we have been led to believe in the past.”

        Oooh, speaking truth to power. Be still my beating heart.

        No doubt as “employees” the lacrosse team can expect to be consulted and given a “voice” in the management of a University.

        It’s time we listen to the youth for a change!

    • AthensHomerDawg

      I’d leave the lady ruggers alone if I were you. I once watched as a young lady rugby enthusiast beat a guy up on the deck at TK Hardys on a Wednesday during Zoo night.. As there were about 20 of her teammates present no one appeared in any hurry to rescue the unfortunate male who at the time was rumored to have made some misinterpreted advances towards one of her lady friends. At least that’s what I was told— but I think he was pissing off the back deck (as we all often did) and one of the ladies took exception to that. It could be she resented that fact that he could do that and she couldn’t. Ladies were funny about restroom toilet rights then. It was during this same time period that I started to notice ladies in the Mens room at concerts taking advantage of the Mens facilities there. It was because of my experience at TK Hardys that I never complained or took exception to their right to use the Mens room. Once I was a Men at Work concert and I was up next at the urinal when I noticed that the ladies line to the stall extended all the way to the men’s line to the urinal. There we were strangers and butt to butt… when she happened to look over her shoulder about the same time as me while I was attempting to get rid of some of that beer I had borrowed …..nothing happened. Something was up and I was way too young for prostrate problems. Damn embarrassing. DIF this ever happen to you? Be honest.😉

      • AthensHomerDawg

        Why not?

      • Dog in Fla

        You are so shy and inhibited. Once I was at a Stones concert at Joe Robbie where the girls in the men’s room outnumbered and outgunned the guys but they were going in the stalls not the urinals so no flow was mometarily impeded. That was a great concert because of the hot commando-style hookers in the row in front of us who gave us the best bend-over show ever and it didn’t cost me anything except my wife’s bad case of chapped-ass. She likes shit like Chicago and Bobby McFerrin and if she’s got to be around ho’s, she wants them to be fully clothed at least in the geographic vicinity of the Victoria’s Secret Triangle. Of course, back when I was just a wee lad, who can even remember where the heads were at The Warehouse on Tchoupitoulas. The only thing I remember is Leslie West’s work on Mississippi Queen always sounded live just like it sounded on the album, what the fuck…. maybe someone, probably him, was just tripping and that’s why the roof of the cotton warehouse seemed so close like you were in a smokey diesel-powered sub where everybody was loaded in so tight we were all touching each other which I am convinced is where the Davinyls got the idea for their one-hit wonder…

  5. reipar

    I think if done right (I know what does that qualifier not apply to) the union could be a good thing for the players and the schools like UGA. However, the one issue that I have not seen anyone discuss, which Mike kind of gets to is what happens to title IX?

    I mean if the football player union gets more benefits and better treatment for its members then would the university have to provide some type of similar benefit to all sports or is title IX limited just to participation numbers?

  6. Normaltown Mike

    The Marc Weiszer article is really precious because the players keep deviating from the approved message:

    -“I think we should get some type of reward for it and get paid for it…”
    -“Everybody’s got like $20 in our back account. Shoot, we want some steak sometime
    -“You should get something to be able to go to the movies or go home,”

    Aren’t they aware that the Northwestern case has nothing to do with money. It’s about a “voice” and getting “investments” into sports injury research and “support” for athletes to graduate.

    Not money. Of course they aren’t interested in money, what would make you think that?

  7. 69Dawg

    “Qualified education expenses. For purposes of tax-free scholarships and fellowships, these are expenses for:
    •Tuition and fees required to enroll at or attend an eligible educational institution, and
    •Course-related expenses, such as fees, books, supplies, and equipment that are required for the courses at the eligible educational institution. These items must be required of all students in your course of instruction.

    Expenses that do not qualify. Qualified education expenses do not include the cost of:
    •Room and board,
    •Clerical help, or
    •Equipment and other expenses that are not required for enrollment in or attendance at an eligible educational institution.”

    Somebody help me out here. It seems that the tuition and books are and would remain tax-free but all the rest is already taxable. I may have missed the specific exemption for Athletic scholarships because like all IRS publications it says see below then there is nothing below that is related to athletic scholarship. This seems to be one of those areas the IRS has ignored for fear of bad publicity. Any compensation over the tuition and books would be fully taxable.

  8. Rebar

    This entire premise makes my head hurt. I’m all for labor, always have been and think unions need to come back strong for our labor market. However, I feel like this can of worms causes more problems than it solves. The ruling the other day was only for privale universities so doesn’t that give them an unfair advantage over public schools? Does a walk-on player who is not on scholarship get the same benefits even though he is paying his own way through school? Do schools that cost more to go to get a higher amount of money? Does that make an unfair advantage for schools that don’t cost as much as others?
    I know the players are saying that money is being made off of them and they have no recourse to earn more of the pie, but I feel that devalues the scholarships. What if there were no scholarships offered? Could most families afford to pay tuition and books and food and everything else that goes into being a college student? I just don’t know where this will lead but I guess it does go to show that money IS the root of all evil.

  9. Gravidy

    I’m not going to wade into the union/plantation debate, because I have no illusions of my ability to sway and hearts or minds on those issues, but there is one quote from one player in one of the linked articles that I just can’t allow to pass me by without commenting. I’m talking about Ramik Wilson’s quote about the number of hours of work the players put in per week. Conveniently, It totals up to almost exactly 40 hours – you know, so it’ll sound all work weeky. But in that 40 hours, he’s including class time and tutoring time. Really?!? Does he really want us to count his free schooling time and free tutoring time as “work” for which he should be compensated? That is astonishing to me. Methinks someone needs a dose of the real world.

    • Did you read Richt’s quote?

      • Gravidy

        Yes, I read Richt’s quote. And I saw nothing in it that would make me think free schooling hours and free tutoring hours (accompanied by free books and free everything else required to get an education – much of which is not available to students on academic scholarships and none of which is available to students paying their own way) should be counted as “work” for which Ramik Wilson should be compensated. If people want to discuss whether their time spent pursuing football should be compensated, that’s a separate argument. The school gets a lot of benefits from that time. My problem is with lumping the all-expenses-paid education time into the mix and wanting to be compensated for that. The education benefits the student, not the university. And, purposefully repeating myself, it’s free.

        Having said all of that, if you are prepared to defend Wilson’s position relative my very specific point, I’m all ears (or eyes, in this case).

        • One difference is that S-As academic time is highly regimented. I don’t know about you, but I skipped my share of classes in college. These guys have monitors who check to see they’re attending everything. And that’s because neither the player nor the school want to have these kids declared ineligible.

    • Dog in Fla

      Ingrate. How dare he think about burning Candyland down?

  10. W Cobb Dawg

    Most foolish suggestion I’ve heard is that players will regret having to pay taxes on their portion of the massive income/benefits cfb generates. What kind of simple mind comes up with this ship!? Please show me a lottery winner who won’t accept the cash because of the taxes.

  11. Patrick

    Re: plantation.

    Here’s one major difference. Many of the people getting rich used to toil in the fields.
    Coaches, broadcasters, AD’s…lots of ex-players that used the system to their advantage.

    It doesn’t end the debate, but I think the “rising tide lifts all boats” argument isn’t pointed out enough.

  12. indemnitor

    If they’re hungry , let them eat cake….
    Marie emmert