William Wallace defied Longshanks “authority”.
Martin Luther, a Catholic priest, promulgated, and then stood by, 95 theses.
French commoners stormed the Bastille (more symbolic than AbuGrabian, it had only seven prisoners at the time).
Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton demanded to vote.
Gandhi introduced non-violent protesting against the Brits.
Branch Rickey placed a call to Jack Roosevelt Robinson.
Rosa Parks sat down in the front of the bus, thank you.
Curt Flood sued baseball over the Reserve Clause.
Moses Malone, left Petersburg, VA High to sign a professional basketball contract with the St. Louis Spirits, bypassing college and the ready and waiting Charles “Lefty” Driessel.
In large things and small, war games and the sports and games people play, in government, in society, there occur tipping points that mark the beginning of a change in the way things are. Kain Colter’s move to lead the unionization of Northwestern players (giving potential new meaning to the term “Wildcat Strike”!) is a triggering event.
Now don’t major in minors and don’t get caught up in the thick of thin things. The toothpaste is out of the tube. Northwestern may prevail on appeals at the NLRB or in the court system. But the light bulb has gone on for athletes in all the Divison 1 and smaller schools.
Know this: Before a decade passes, college players at the revenue producing schools will, WILL be paid. Holler, weep, hold your breath till you turn blue, even gnash your teeth if you are in a Lenten, biblical mood. But change gonna come.
Many colleges, not the one sitting under the protection of the physical and spiritual image of Christ’s Mother, have been overworking, and undereducating athletes and skimming the money from the efforts with an audacity and ruthlessness that would make Carlo Gambino blush. Change is not easy, particularly for the exploiter (again, Notre Dame is a proud and shining example of non-exploitation)) when the exploitee starts to untilt the playing field. Longshanks didn’t like it, the Pope didn’t like it, the French royals didn’t like it, USA men didn’t like it, the Brits didn’t like it (hell, they have not been the same since we freedom-slapped them and tossed their tea in the harbor), Dixie Walker didn’t like it, the KKK, Bull Connor and George Wallace didn’t like it, baseball owners didn’t like and the NCAA didn’t like it. Too bad if you are on the wrong side of history!
“There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” Victor Hugo. Sure emotions will temporarily overwhelm logic and law and principle. Nostalgia will be more comforting than change. The NCAA? Hah! Its pharisaic, filthy, hypocritical ways were never more clearly revealed then when they devilshily agreed to a devilish bargain with the devil himself-David Stern-and adopted the one and done rule, An affront to personal freedom, a travesty of student athlete, and the fulcrum that enabled John “I knew nothing about Marcus Camby’s issues and was in church with my mother at the time of Derek Rose cheating on the entrance exams” Calipari. Teflon John is tailor made for the new 1 and done.
Except it’s not one and done. Sorry to burst your bubble, but the Kentucky players and most other one and doners quit classes about when they start practicing for the Conference tournaments. The NCAA will get dumptrucked in the courts, the Congress and in the court of public opinion. So now thanks to this bargain, Canadian knucklehead Justin Bieber can come into the US and make tens of millions as a teenager, but Mitchell Wiggins cannot. Send your thank you note to the NCAA, Mr. Wiggins!
Now remember this about triggering events. It is never a straight line to the final solution. There will be twists and turns. But even last Fall, Steve Spurrier, morphing into a staestman as he nears twilight, recommended that players get paid and mentioned that his large salary could be reduced to pay a portion of it. THIS IS NOT YOUR FATHER’S FOOTBALL.
Once upon a time in St. Joe County, Notre Dame players showed up in September, and concluded the season after Thanksgiving. We didn’t play in bowl games. Some lifting,with Father Lange, a few weeks of Spring football, then home for the summer, and a job, after classes. ended in May. No summer school. No early entry. Now it’s full time. Enter early, high school seniors report in June, classes and Longo, bowl practice, then winter conditioning and more Longo before Spring Practice. $500 a month? $1,000 a month? The discussion ought start there.
Oh sure, Colter’s action was about safety, insurance and such, not pay. But it follows as night the day. There are two sides of history. The right side and the wrong side. Which side are you on? And let us hope that Our Lady’s University shows some enlightened and compassionate leadership on the issue.