Unions are out of style. Just like kids from suburbia with popped collars. Despite this “behind the times” thinking, The NLRB ruled on March 27th that Northwestern University Football players are employees and can unionize because college football generates enough critical mass in dollars to warrant an employee designation. What makes me uneasy about this?
Northwestern does not bring in the big bucks:
In 2012 the Big Ten generated $315 million in football revenue finishing first atop all other conferences. How much of that did Northwestern account for? As the only private institution in the Big Ten they do not have to report numbers but let’s compare the Wildcats with my Buckeyes.
- Ryan Field – 47,000
- The Shoe – 106,000 (and growing, we need to compete with the Team Up North)
- Two Best Available season tickets at Ryan Field – $572 bought online
- Two season tickets at The Shoe – $1468 plus fees and not guaranteed; season ticket holders must enter a lottery
Bowl games: (The conference receives a pay day when their teams are not only selected for bowl games but also when their teams WIN the bowl games)
- Northwestern – 0 BCS bowl appearances
- Ohio State – 10 BCS bowl appearances
- Northwestern – 1 bowl win since 1949
- Ohio State – 20 bowl wins since 1950
Simply by the numbers, it is clear Northwestern does not bring in revenue anywhere close to others in their conference such as The Ohio State University. They’re a David in a Goliath game.
No one knows who Kain Coulter is:
If you’re going to lead a charge as game changing as this, it might be more credible if people knew your name. The incremental name recognition difference between Kain Coulter and Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, Braxton Miller, Aarron Murray, or AJ McCarron is substantial. Even between Kain Coulter and AJ McCarron’s girlfriend for that matter.
It’s similar to running a political campaign; you have to be influential in your field in order to be a game changer. If Kain Coulter was drafted by the Cleveland Browns, with say the 22nd pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, do you think the Browns would have sold 1200 season tickets in the next four hours? I think not. If Johnny Manziel was fighting for CAPA everyone might pay a little more attention.
Universities are still academic institutions (that make money, A LOT of it):
Why do schools like Ohio State exist? Outside of what our moral beliefs are about education might be, let’s talk dollars because that’s what this “union” is about.
- The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center – $2 billion in fiscal 2013
- Student tuition for Ohio State – $962 million for 2014
While I will be at each home game this year for the Buckeyes and I thoroughly enjoy football Saturdays, it’s only a small portion of what these universities do, even in terms of the pocket book.
I’m over unions like I’m over American Idol.
Granting the athletes a union is a Band-Aid. It is another public acknowledgement of the exploitation of college athletes. It’s real. It’s happening. However, will a union really solve the problem? The NCAA isn’t going to listen until the college football powerhouse schools start to make moves. Until then, let the debate continue.