Courts Will Decide Athlete Unionization; Court of Public Opinion is Pointless

Courts Will Decide Athlete Unionization; Court of Public Opinion is Pointless

You’ve no doubt heard a ton about Northwestern football players being legally deemed employees and being granted the right to unionize. Even if the NU football team votes against unionizing on April 25th, they’re still legally employees.

Kain Colter’s “the NCAA acts like a dictatorship” soundbite made The Colbert Report. NU Coach Pat Fitzgerald’s media session made The Daily Show. The unionization battle is on every channel in every medium all of the time.

And when something is this ridiculously saturated in over-coverage to this grandiose effect, you unfortunately know what follows next.

Yes, indeed.

We’ve had tons of misinformation, pathetically bad sports punditry and sports “political” bloviators adopting ridiculously indefensible positions on this case, simply because they’re desperate to drive up their terrible ratings.

We’ll expound more on all of this, but first here are two principles I need you, the reader, to take away from this column before proceeding further.

1.) None of these idiotic opinions, nor even the smart, informed opinions, actually matter in the long run. My opinion is worthless too. Unless you’re a labor law expert, what you say has little to no relevance. 

2.) This is not a media-driven story. It is not over-hyped. This is important; it’s history, but that still doesn’t make the fans actually care. The media loves this story, not the people. The media over-report this because it’s cheap and easy to “report,” and since no one actually knows what is going to happen, there’s more speculation, less actual reporting going on. The only “work” the media are actually doing here is copying and pasting press releases, legal statements and then opining on them.

This story does nothing to drive ratings, readerships or page view clicks. AT ALL.

Debates about collective bargaining in sports, debates that could take over a decade in the Federal appeals process to be settled, is not what the people are looking for. Stories about Hooter’s waitresses, Playboy bunnies, cheerleaders, drunk/dead celebrities or famous drunk/dead celebrity former Hooter’s waitress/Playboy bunny/cheerleaders are what the people want.

So you may be asking me:

“if you’re saying all these people suck so bad at their jobs, why not just call them out by name? “

Here’s why that won’t happen.

1. Some of these people, with horribly misinformed opinions, are people that I actually like as human beings. They’ve been nice to me and/or done favors for me. So while I find their work abominable, I’m not going to directly antagonize those that I’m friendly with. Michael Jordan the person is notorious for being a total prick. Michael Jordan the basketball player or product pitchman…well, that’s the pinnacle in those professions.

2. Business entanglements.

It’s not in my financial interest to call out a certain network. Who had a very “fair and balanced” (and by that I mean a ridiculously arch-conservative pundit) as their lone analyst on this case.

3. Whack-a-mole

Every time I want to tear down a newspaper column that reads entirely as if a Sports Information Department professional ghost wrote it…up pops another internet blog on a local news site that seems as if NCAA President Mark Emmert had ghost written it for the blogger.

There’s just way too much crapola, and so little time.

You guys are smart, you know who sucks, I don’t need to name names.


4. Some of it is just mindless Kain Colter character assassination.

Some pundits have simply just run out of angles. Desperate to carve out some type of niche position on this story, they’ve resorted to attacking the protagonist. Much like other idiots are instead praising the antagonist (that would be Emmert) or both. This is very unfortunate, but also not something worth spending a lot of time on as there’s so little substance to these people’s arguments anyway.

5. I don’t want to be a total “Negative Ned”

Some people are doing some really good work on this. This guy below seems to agree with me that Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times has been giving us proper perspective in reporting on CAPA.

6. You can make up your own mind.

Like I said before, your opinion is what matters, not mine and certainly not the guaranteed-to-dumb-you-down opinions that comprise the pathetic “coverage” of this case. Noam Chomsky would often advocate to his audience: “don’t just blindly accept what I’ve told you, go look it up.”

And if you want to truly be disturbed, and this is something I learned from attending a Chomsky lecture, go look up Henry Kissinger’s “anything that flies on anything that moves.”

Paul M. Banks owns The Sports, an affiliate of Fox Sports. He’s also a frequent guest on national talk radio. Banks is a former contributor to NBC Chicago and the Washington Times, who’s been featured on the History Channel. President Obama follows him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)


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