Inside Conditions…Emancipation Documentation

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Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen, glory hallelujah! Now you may think that I don’t know, but I’ve had my troubles here below. One day when I was walkin’ along. The sky opened up and love come down. (From 1867 book Slave Songs of the United States)

Last week a regional office of the National Labor Relations Board backed a bid by football players at Northwestern University to unionize. “I find that all grant-in-aid scholarship players for the Employer’s football team who have not exhausted their playing eligibility are ‘employees’ under” the National Labor Relations Act” wrote Peter Sung Ohr, director of the board’s Chicago regional office in his ruling.

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Aubrey Bruce

As part of the ruling Ohr also wrote that; ”walk-on players — those without scholarships — do not qualify as employees.”The ruling pointed out that; “scholarship football players at Northwestern [basically qualify as] employees: that they perform services for the benefit of their employer and receive compensation (in the form of a scholarship) in exchange and that scholarship players are “subject to the employer’s control in the performance of their duties as football players.”

Ohr also differentiated the case of Northwestern’s football players from those of graduate teaching assistants at Brown University (in which the NLRB ruled for the university in 2004) because “the players’ football-related duties are unrelated to their academic studies unlike the graduate assistants whose teaching and research duties were inextricably tied to their graduate degree requirements.”

“The players spend 50 to 60 hours per week on their football duties during a one-month training camp prior to the start of the academic year and an additional 40 to 50 hours per week on those duties during the three or four month football season,” the NLRB ruling said.

“Not only is this more hours than many undisputed full-time employees work at their jobs, it is also many more hours than the players spend on their studies.”

Wow 50 to 60 hours per week on their football duties and 40 to 50 hours per week on those duties during the three or four month football season, that is a lot of time to work for nada, zilch, nothing.

Training camp 50-60 hours a week let’s take the middle road. 55 hours a week for 4 weeks of training camp; 220 hours for one month equals $2222.00 just for one month of training camp. Now 40-50 hours a week of practice, film studies and conditioning; let’s again take the middle road and say 45 hours a week during the 4 month football season, 45 hours a week time 4 weeks monthly come out to be 180 hours a month multiplied by 4 equals 720 hours times $10.10 is $7272.00 and that is the bare minimum.

Players that perform in the pro football ranks have roughly the same training and practice schedule and ya know what ladies and gents? The minimum salary for rookies in 2012 was $390,000.00.  In 2013, 2012′s rookies were scheduled to earn $480,000.00 in salary as second year players in the NFL, if they make a squad as an active player.
In 2014, the 2012 rookies will earn $570,000.00 in salary, if they make a squad as an active player.

Hey if college players get injured they won’t even have a chance to receive the theoretical $7272.00 base salary that they should receive yearly.

Remember Terrelle Pryor, the Western Pennsylvania and Ohio State standout, (now currently being paid to play for the NFL Oakland raiders)? On December 26, 2010 espn.com news services published an article titled; “Ohio State football players sanctioned.” “Welcome to Tattoo U. What started out as a trip to a Columbus tattoo parlor by a couple of football players has created all sorts of mayhem for star quarterback Terrelle Pryor and Ohio State. Pryor and four teammates were suspended by the NCAA for the first five games of [2011] season for selling championship rings, jerseys and awards. They also received improper benefits — from up to two years ago — from the tattoo parlor and its owner. Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said.

“As a student-athlete, you’re not allowed to use your persona to get discounted services.” Oh, but Mr. Smith what are you allowed to receive?”

It is time for the takers to become the borrowers and the low to become the high. It is time for the NCAA to be tied to the economic whipping post singing; “Nobody knows the trouble they are about to see. Will the NCAA pay the costs of future litigation from the blood, sweat and tears of scholarship players? Love is not coming down for the NCAA. The “freedom” chickens are on their way home to roost, later.

(The sources for this article were insidehighereducation.com, Associated Press and espn.com news services)

Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: abruce@newpittsburghcourier.com or 412.583.6741

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