Friday, September 30, 2011

Putting Politics Into Football

Putting Politics Into Football

Oh man, if you thought I couldn't make football boring for you, then you're in for a surprise. Because I'm going to blow the roof off this mofo and lay down some football boredom on you. Woooooo!

But now that you know a football season is in store for you in a couple of months, perhaps we should take a look at college football and why pay for play could be disastrous

Don't worry, this is just a bit of light reading to start off your week.

There's a dark side to paying student-athletes to play college football.

Collective bargaining.

According to Michael Buckner, an attorney specializing in NCAA enforcement investigations and compliance issues, paying student-athletes could result in the formation of a players union. And that could lead to affiliation with powerful existing unions such as the Teamsters, as well as possible strikes to try to gain a substantial piece of college football's financial pie. That pie is "in the billions of dollars" according to Forbes sports business analyst Kristi Dosh. "Profits for just the schools broke the $1 billion mark in 2009," Dosh said.

With BCS conferences making lucrative deals with networks for broadcasting rights, the pie keeps getting bigger. Since the student-athletes can't legally grab a piece of it, many have turned to street agents, runners and boosters to supplement their income. If the rules-makers can't stop a kid from trading pants for tattoos, how can they expect to prevent an 18-year-old — with maybe $100 in his checking account — from listening to a union rep's lure of riches?

"A strike by college athletes would make the current work stoppages in the NFL and NBA look like child's play, and would impact more people and communities," Buckner said.

"The average number of people at college football games on any given Saturday is five million," Dosh said. That's a significant jump from the NFL's average stadium gameday attendance of 1.1 million. "Aside from the money generated just on game days, there's advertising, television revenues and licensing. The number of towns and enterprises [a work stoppage] touches would have much more of a far-reaching impact [than an NFL lockout]."

Penn State University's surrounding area is an example of the adverse effect a work stoppage could have on a local economy. According to the 2010 census, there are 42,034 residents in State College, Pa., but the Nittany Lions' Beaver Stadium can swell to over 107,000 fans on game days. Jose Felix, an employee at Marriott's Residence Inn State College, said half of the hotel's yearly profit comes from college football season, which is roughly six weekends a year. Penn State football season is to them what December is to retailers. You can get a room right now for $169, but on game days, "it starts at $349 and for bigger games, $399 and up," Felix said. "You have to call at least a year in advance for reservations."

How could paying student-athletes potentially lead to them unionizing?

"If the National Labor Relations Act or Congress defines college athletes as employees and universities are employers (and also rules that other provisions of the National Labor Relations Act apply to the relationship), then student-athletes would enjoy numerous rights, including the right to collectively bargain," Buckner said. "Receiving additional money does not by itself make a student-athlete an employee. Federal labor law must be applied to determine if student-athletes would be considered employees of their respective universities. Previous decisions of the National Labor Relations Board and federal courts have not defined the relationship between universities and college athletes as an employer-employee relationship."

But those decisions didn't reflect student-athletes being paid, other than receiving scholarships.

To unionize, student-athletes would have to file a petition with the NLRB to start organized labor proceedings, and 30 percent of them would have to attest that they were interested in forming a union, according to Nancy Cleeland, Director of Public Affairs for the NLRB.

If the student-athletes' financial-aid contracts were separate from their compensation contracts, becoming designated as employees would be easier to accomplish. And that would open the door to forming a union. Which could then open the door to organized labor making inroads into college football.

Dan Stormer, a top attorney in California specializing in labor and employment issues, when asked whether existing unions would be interested in college football, said "Absolutely. ... It could be a teachers' assistant union, it could be the Teamsters ... it could be anything," he said.

A college football strike would have a snowball effect on the rest of college sports, which rely heavily on football to fund their individual programs. "You take football out of the equation, and the athletic departments of BCS conferences can't function," Dosh said.

There are still some issues that could stop the pay-for-play movement. The biggest hurdle is Title IX, a federal law which states, in part, that no person under an educational umbrella shall be denied benefits on the basis of gender. "Any plan to pay student-athletes would have to adhere to federal law," Buckner said. If football players are paid, then somewhere, student-athletes in a women's sport will also have to be compensated.

The other big issue is the difficulty some smaller schools would face in coming up with the money to pay student-athletes. "The Big Ten Conference discussed a proposal that would pay student-athletes to help cover living expenses on top of their scholarships during the league's 2011 spring meetings," Buckner said. "Unfortunately, not all schools could afford to do so."

The prospect of a college football work stoppage is a fan's worst nightmare. Hearing crickets chirp on fall Saturdays across the country from Eugene, Ore., to Norman, Okla., to South Bend, Ind., to Baton Rouge, La., should give the pay-to-play movement pause.

Be careful what you wish for.
What the fuck, pay the athletes. Pay them all. Pay football players more, who fucking cares. Right? Because really, professional athletes might want decent compensation and working conditions in exchange for their services.

I bet you think that most of these kids shouldn't get this payment because they're just going to end up making a shit load of more money as professional athletes once they graduate. The answer to that is no.

It's only a small percentage of college athletes that are able to go pro, and only a small percentage of pro athletes make enough money to support themselves for the rest of their lives after retirement, when their long list of injuries, including many head injuries for football players come into play, and their spotty, devalued education just adds to the laundry list of things that make it difficult for them to support themselves in traditional employment, you'll probably think twice about the whole notion of abusing your body for a couple of years of glory.

Factor in that there's really no pro league at all for women which pays them anywhere near enough to live off for the rest of their lives. And none for athletes who choose a sport like track and field.

But I guess that's part of the problem. Those don't bring in the big bucks. There's no sport that really is revenue generating except the top men's football and basketball programs. Maybe you'll be lucky to get the women's basketball teams in there as well. But not all of those are really going to break the bank to pay the athletes a nontrivial amount. If you're going to justify athletics at all at Universities, you might as well pay the athletes though because chances are they aren't going to get it anywhere else.

Most pro players only play for a few years with a relatively normal NFL salary and have medical issues that eat up all of that money fairly quickly anyway. It's something like 80% of professional American football players end up going bankrupt within 3 years after they retire. Isn't that some shit. That's why you see them shilling their autograph for $20 at your local sports memorabilia shop.

Superstars make millions but the anonymous line players are probably making just an upper middle class salary for a few years. Then they have to quit and have no skills other than hitting people, a worthless degree, enduring physical injuries probably making it near impossible to get health insurance in this country, and are haunted by the specter of repeated concussions causing chronic traumatic brain injuries leading to a lot of suicide.

Not to long ago a former football player killed himself by shooting himself in the chest so that his brain could be examined for proof of the long term brain damage done by the sport. And you look at nerds foolishly for not wanting to have anything to do with High school sports?

Worse is when you think about the numbers. The mediocre college players are basically a dime a dozen. There's probably a few hundred NCAA schools graduating players every year and only 32 professional teams. You do the math there. I don't even think all of them are even on scholarships. So it ends up being a case where a lot of the second rate players are paying for their own crippling and exploitation.

And exploitation it is. These people produce entertainment spectacle at the expense of their own physical well-being to the tune of millions and millions of dollars for their schools, and they are exploited by them and the media for merchandising companies that partner with them.

College athletes should get all surplus value resulting from their labor. Just like all other workers should. And if you say that you get paid pretty well for your shitty work at the office job you have, but the company generates almost inhuman profits from said work, but you don't benefit from it, then it sounds like you and your co-workers should seize the means of production by any means necessary.

Because fuck, I bet you didn't know that the cheer leading industry was fucked beyond belief and it's wholly owned by the official uniform company that you have to be a slave to in order to display your body in front of a large crowd of gawking men salivating for violence.

You know how bad all this shit is? There's a great article about how the players are exploited and destroyed that had to be written by a baseball writer because the football journalists wouldn't touch it due to not wanting to be black listed by the NFL.

So yeah, that's why college sports are an abomination and American football is pretty barbaric bloodsport that makes its living off the broken bodies of anyone it can grasp on with this ideology that you'll some how be a big time baller who drops bills at 'da' club like it's nothing. At the very least we can pay them for destroying said body.

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