Several Northwestern University football players are drawing attention in Chicago as they try to seek representation by a labor union to be recognized as employees by the NCAA.
I'm a huge fan of college football. But I'm not a fan of paying athletes.
In fact, I think one of the biggest downfalls of professional sports is the inflated salaries of athletes today. Don't get me wrong, athletes deserve to get paid well, and some of that compensation does include the travel, the hard work, the injuries, the short careers, the lack of privacy, the constant visibility, spotlight pressure, autograph requests and mooches – both on and off the field.
That said, there's a real problem in college sports: the inflated salaries of college coaches. I'm not opposed to college coaches making a living and earning great incomes – especially the best coaches. But when there was discussion of Texas paying Nick Saban as much as $10 million a year to coach college football there, I became convinced that you can't pay that without having to also pay players. And I am adamantly against that.
My big beef is if a school paid its head coach $10 million per year, which was allegedly the offer Texas made to Nick Saban, he'd essentially be operating an indentured servant hood operation where the head coaches and universities become slave masters by not paying their players. Even the actual slave masters of the 19th century and before provided housing, meals and perhaps training and resources for their slaves. I don't think college football or college athletics in general want to identify themselves with these kinds of connotations – it’s not a good story or position in the marketplace to be telling the public and children. And ultimately, when you look at it objectively, when the university and head coach are making so many millions of dollars, there arises an incredible disparity between the players and coaches.
It's no wonder that some college coaches feel like players should get paid. Paying players protects the coaches, their incomes and their interests. And again, I do think coaches should get paid, and paid well, but only to a point. We need to scale back excessive salaries (in all sports!) and we need to keep the integrity of college football alive, and allow players to play perhaps with some expense stipend. But not in the capacity of paying them a salary to play. Part of the thrill of college football is seeing guys who are putting it all out the line, working hard without any guarantee of compensation. That's just my opinion as a public relations expert, and a fan of college football.
– Jason Mudd, APR, is CEO of Axia Public Relations. He is an Emmy-Award-winning accredited public relations practitioner, speaker, author and entrepreneur. His public relations portfolio includes work for established national and emerging brands such as American Airlines, Budweiser, Dave & Buster’s, Brightway Insurance, Florida Blue, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, It Works! Global, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Ray Charles, Southern Comfort, Verizon and more. Connect with Jason at @jasonmudd9 and Axia Public Relations at @axiapr. Be sure to tweet and share your thoughts below. We’ll read and respond to each of them.