Don’t make ’em put you in the box, kid.

Another one of those suits where student-athletes, in this case, some former track players, sought to have a court find that athletes put in enough work at universities to be entitled to minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act was shot down.  The ruling itself wasn’t especially notable, but the rationale supporting it certainly was.

Plaintiff attorney Paul McDonald summarized the result of the decision. “Student athletes now join prisoners as the only citizens who, as a matter of law, cannot be considered employees,” he said.

He shitteth you not, good people.

… Instead, at both the district and circuit levels, they threw the case out by using a single piece of case law, Vanskike v. Peters, involving convicts. In Vanskike, an inmate at a state prison in Joliet, Ill., had asked for wages. The Seventh Circuit declined to apply the test questions in that instance because asking who benefits from an inmate’s labor was nonsensical and didn’t “capture” the “real relationship” of prisoner to prison.

So, to be clear, the best way to “capture” the relationship of athletes to their campus is to view them as detainees?

The Seventh Circuit’s contorted reasoning bears repeating. College athletes are similar to prisoners economically because the “revered tradition of amateurism” in college spanning than 100 years “defines the economic reality of the relationship between student-athletes and their schools,” the court wrote. As with inmates, asking any questions about who benefits from their work would “fail to capture the true nature of their relationship.” In other words, amateurism is as confining and defining as jail.

Then the court went one step further and declared, “Simply put, student-athletic ‘play’ is not ‘work,’ as least as the term is used in the FLSA.”

That’s something.

It turns out those folks comparing student-athletes’ conditions to life on a plantation were wrong.  According to the Seventh Circuit, they have even less rights than sharecroppers.  Go figure.


Filed under Look For The Union Label

15 responses to “Don’t make ’em put you in the box, kid.

  1. JG Shellnutt

    Do high school football players work hard and earn money for their school?


  2. Macallanlover

    Oh Lawdy, Lawdy! First slaves on the plantations, now chain gangs are brought into the discussion. Perhaps Ken Blankenship can find a good paying job as spokesman and media relations director for the oppressed. Leave it to the legal types to stretch the facts to an unrecognizable form.


    • Maybe you should file an amicus brief, Mac.


      • Macallanlover

        Perhaps, on behalf of all those who may be harmed as “bystanders” But I leave the legal work to my daughter. Although the idea of just voluntarily becoming collateral damage to this strange directional change isn’t my normal style. But the degree of ridiculousness to these hyperbolic examples help to make my case on their own. Obviously the legal geniuses involved have never swung a sling blade in South Georgia summers, nor been enslaved, after serving 3-5 years of hard time on the UGA campus as a scholarship athlete.


  3. paul

    Perhaps a better angle is to argue that players ought to be able to accept crowd sourcing as long as they are NOT on scholarship. Lots of students who are not athletes receive money this way and it’s completely legal. That way you bypass the relationship to the school all together. Couldn’t hurt to try. These ’employee’ arguments don’t seem to be gaining much traction.


    • Macallanlover

      So…the walk-ons could “pass the hat” after games and try to live on the largess of the fans while the scholarship guys are enslaved with room, board, tuition, books, and cost if attendance? Got it. Would definitely be a free market system, pickings might be a little slim at most bowl games and following home games like Nichols State, GT, etc. But with alcohol sales coming, the chances are good the tips will get larger!


      • paul

        I was thinking more along the lines of Go Fund Me or Kickstarter. There are plenty of people on sites like these that have received enough anonymous donations to fund their education



    Walk ons can have a job, I believe.


  5. Go Dawgs!

    It’s getting harder and harder to support this stuff.


  6. Sherlock

    When they put it that way, look at how bad us working schlubs have it. I have to pay for my own room and board. My employer would only pay half of my tuition and not a penny for my books. I don’t get a stipend to cover “the full cost of working”. Nothing is set aside for transportation to work, work clothing, etc. Not to mention healthcare. Prisoners and student athletes get free healthcare. They don’t have to deal with monthly premiums, copays, deductibles, coinsurance, etc. Hell, student athletes (and apparently prisoners now according the article since it is the same as being a student athlete) can walk away at any point. Many of us have contracts with harsh penalties for walking away or not doing the job in a satisfactory manner. Not to mention the scenery. College are full of attractive women walking around a lush campus. Us engineers have to deal with a bunch of ugly nerdy guys and florescent lighting.


  7. fred russo

    This game will be won by the team that fines it self in third and three the most!!!!