You are probably aware of what happened at the University of Missouri this week. Although my ignorance of the situation forbids me from commenting on the larger issue of racism on the campus (many have commented in spite of that), I cannot help but be struck by the fact that the football team got the president fired. By refusing to practice and play, the president of the univerisity was forced to resign. As many have pointed out, such a move could have far-reaching consequences.
For example, let’s say that the players decide that they want to get paid for playing, an idea that is regularly tossed around concerning college athletics. Seemingly all they have to do at this point is demand it by refusing to play. If enough teams and coaches got together next year and refused to play without pay, then the powers that be would be left with few options:
1. Fiiiiirrre e’rbody: One option would be for the administrations to just fire the coaches and staff, find new players who would play for free and just start over. Practically though, this would never work. How could you find coaches and staff in such a short amount of time? And how could you replace the players? Nothing like watching the walk-ons duke it out on Saturdays, final score: 0-2 (the seventh overtime ended the game with a safety).
2. Cancel e’rything: No more season openers. No more TSIO (Third Saturday in October, for the non-Tennessee/Alabama fans). No more watching the polls to see who is going to make the playoffs. Heh, no more playoffs. Yeah, that ain’t going to happen. (We cannot comprehend how much revenue would be lost, which is really what is driving the whole thing).
3. Pay em’ their money: Write up the contracts (expecting negotiations and hold-outs). Write down the rules and salary caps and what-nots. And write your name on the checks!
Seriously though, in light of what happened at Mizzou, why would we not expect something like this happening in the near future? It seems like it is just a matter of time. And it is not that hard to understand how we got here: millions and millions of dollars (I didn’t actually do any calculating to arrive at that number, but it is fairly accurate). When the athletes realize how much their willingness to play is worth (especially in the sports of football and basketball), then they will know just how much power they have. It seems we are heading in that direction. Just not very confident that such power will be wielded well. Guess we’ll find out soon enough.