Kain Colter leads NU in Historic Movement Towards Social Justice

Kain Colter leads NU in Historic Movement Towards Social Justice

When it comes to Kain Colter, the Northwestern football team supporting him, and the College Athletes Players Association with which they stand, there are not “two sides” to this issue. That’s one of the biggest fallacies of journalism- that every story needs “both sides” to be “fair and balanced.”

Global warming or “climate change” exists, it’s man made and it’s destroying the Earth. The science is in on this and it’s conclusive. Follow this guy on Twitter for more.  There is no “debate.”

Regarding college athletes in the revenue producing sports, they are being exploited for their unpaid labor. Period.

The debate begins with what are we going to do to remedy it? A full ride scholarship for basketball and football players was a fair deal in the 1950s, when:

-College football TV contracts, and the revenue that they produced were a miniscule fraction of what they are today
-Coaches and administrators made a mere pittance compared to the exorbitant salaries they receive today
-Most people didn’t even go to college, so a bachelor’s degree gave you a tremendous competitive advantage in the labor market
-College football, and March Madness in college basketball were nowhere remotely close to the extremely lucrative national past times that they are today

So as the invisible hand of the “free market” has evolved in the last 65 years, why shouldn’t compensation of the labor that provides the very backbone of the industry?

If you have any sense of American capitalism, of the ideals of “pure competition” and “free enterprise,” there’s only one side you can take in this fight. To be against Kain Colter and the NU football players is to be completely morally and intellectually bankrupt.

Today, at the Hyatt Regency hotel on Wacker Drive downtown, Kain Colter continued Chicago’s longstanding tradition of socially progressive politics. No, this was nowhere near as radical as Haymarket Square or The Weather Underground; but it was certainly more crusading for social justice than Barack Obama (who’s actually a thinly veiled centrist) has lately or the Daley Democratic Machine (which was a lot less populist than advertised).

By now you’ve heard about the cause of Colter, National College Players Association leader Ramogi Huma, CAPA’s new president; United Steelworkers (USW) President Leo W. Gerard; and Tim Waters, USW Political Director. They are forming the first union for college athletes in history. They are not looking to get paid. Let’s make this clear, no one is asking for money here. They simply want more of a voice and better benefits.

“It’s almost like a dictatorship,” Kain Colter said of the NCAA.

“We want someone who is going to be looking out for us.”


Here’s the statement:

“We Northwestern football players are grateful for our opportunity to play football for a prestigious university and athletic program. However, just as other athletes who compete in multi-billion dollar industries have done, we must secure and maintain comprehensive protections by asserting the rights afforded to us under labor laws. We are not taking these measures out of any mistreatment from Northwestern. However, we recognize the need to eliminate unjust NCAA rules that create physical, academic, and financial hardships for college athletes across the nation.

“To remain silent while players are denied justice is to be complicit in inflicting injustice on future generations of college athletes.”

Here’s video of Kain Colter at the presser in Chicago this morning

The NCAA will obviously not recognize the organized labor movement of the athletes as a legitimate professional workers union. So this will be decided by lawyers. This case will probably get appealed enough that it goes all the way to the Supreme Court. Will the Federal System find in favor of the NCAA? Depends on if they uphold the term “student-athlete” and maintain that it is a legitimate legal designation of a labor category. Conversely, we could see true social justice if they rule that college athletes are “employees” instead of the indentured servitude model that persists today.

Walter Byers, first executive director of the NCAA, serving from 1951 to 1988, invented the term “student-athlete” simply to keep Universities protected from paying workman’s compensation benefits, or wrongful death benefits. That’s all the phrase “student-athletes” means.
It’s just a legal definition protecting schools from being held liable, and potentially sued by players.

I asked Ramogi Huma today at the press conference about what terms should replace “student-athletes” and “amateurism” moving forward? “Workers?” “Employees?” “College athletes?”

“College athlete is appropriate, by law under the definition we are also asserting that they’re employees” Huma responded.

“They’re not mutually exclusive, if a student is working at a book store, they’re still a student, and an employee of the University.”

“Walter Byers, who built the NCAA, the architect who stood at the helm for over 30 years, he reported in his book, called ‘Unsportsmanlike Conduct’ how they saw all this coming, they knew they were paying players, but they wanted to wanted to avoid paying workers compensation, so they invented the term student athlete to skirt labor laws and this is the time when it all comes full circle, and the players are saying, well, we do have rights.”



Indeed, Kain Colter is a brave social progressive. He’s a hero. What he’s striving to accomplish politically, and socioeconomically, is much more important than what he striving to accomplish at the NFL Draft combine next month.

Here’s more reaction to today’s ground-breaking events:

Ramogi Huma video and Q&A

Kain Colter Q&A

Northwestern responds with a statement from A.D. Dr. Jim Phillips

NCAA responds via the head of their legal team

Learn more about CAPA at collegeathletespa.org and on Twitter @CAPAssociation

Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. An MBA and Fulbright scholar in media studies, he’s also an analyst for multiple news talk radio stations across the country; with regular weekly segments on ESPN, NBC, CBS and Fox Sports Radio.

A former writer for NBCChicago.com and WashingtonTimes.com, he’s also been featured on the History Channel. President Barack Obama follows him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)

Type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

Leave a comment