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The football programs may not be worth the decaying
frost-covered post-industrial arctic hellscapes* that its universities are
dotted across but damn if the B1G isn’t leading the pack into the future of
* Yes it’s cold here,
why do you ask?
** We are also good at
basketball. And women’s volleyball.
It was reported today that the Northwestern Wildcats
football team filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board to first, be recognized as employees and second, be represented by a union. The organizers
and their backers, including the College Athletes Players Association and United
Steelworkers (who say they will have no stake in membership dues), seem fairly
confident that they have a sufficient number of signatures to at least get the
process moving forward.
I’ll leave guesses about where this specific case goes from
here to the lawyers but the bigger point, the broader point is that this whole
system is done.* Even if the NCAA fights and wins against Northwestern players,
this issue will have been brought even further to the fore and once that happens
– once people start to think about the INSANE amounts of money men's football
and basketball players generate for their Indianapolis-based** overlords on top
of the risk of injury and the prevalence of support systems explicitly
designed to avoid providing the education so often claimed as compensation*** –
there’s no way any right-thinking person could continue support the status quo.
* The Ed O’Bannon
lawsuit should also be mentioned here but this filing is so much bigger. O’Bannon
only goes after the use of a players’ likeness. This case cuts right to the heart of the NCAA's ideal of “student-athlete.”
** Another reason
nap-city blows. I should probably visit at some point if I’m going to keep
knocking it, huh?
*** Turns out these
support systems are often more concerned with keeping athletes eligible than
educating them. Youdon’tsay?
Now the bigger question becomes what happens? To be honest,
I have no idea. Maybe football and basketball players are allowed to unionize
but a couple tweaks here and there manage to keep the current competitive
ecosystem mostly in place. Maybe we go completely off the deep end and start
providing the tennis players with $20,000 stipends because hell, they're athletes too right? Things could get hairy because
really, even though critics will say athletic departments in the five power
conferences* pull down over $5 billion in annual revenue, a much smaller number
actually turn a profit. Hell, maybe this could even bounce back around and
affect the status of graduate students(a recent point of contention at both Michigan and Minnesota). *Sorry Big EastAmerican Athletic. Whatever, sucks to be U(Conn).
For now though those questions don’t matter so much. Things
are about to get interesting and really the only way I feel right now is that it’s about damn time. Ed. note: H/T to Brandon Bruhn for some sharp editing fixes.