College Football Cavalcade: Pac-12 Players Boycott Threat. How It Could - And Couldn't - Work

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

College Football Cavalcade: Pac-12 Players Boycott Threat. How It Could - And Couldn't - Work


College Football Cavalcade: Pac-12 Players Boycott Threat. How It Could - And Couldn't - Work


The Pac-12 football players are threatening a boycott unless their list of demands is met. It has a chance to work … maybe.

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Sorry if this take sucks, it’s not my fault …

Actually, I AM your entertainment, I’m not a human being.

But they have their head over the skis by demanding the release of the nine members of the Asian Dawn movement

Pac-12 players, before I begin …

I’m with you.

I’m 100% on your side, hopeful that your threats to boycott the season end up sparking a much-needed reboot of the college athletic model.

I’ve been a players’ rights advocate since CFN started back in 1998, and I interviewed Ramogi Huma before most of you were born, but …

You’re about to get totally creamed unless you get three things at the highest of levels.

Representation, representation, representation.

You actually think the sport that’s been rolling over the last 150 years is going to buckle now?

You think a major conference will have any sort of a problem waiting out the next six months in order to keep its self-serving system in place?

Again, I’M WITH YOU, Pac-12 players, but exactly what kind of leverage do you really think you have here?

All of your points and demands in the letter published by The Players Tribune at least deserve to be discussed, but you’re going to lose unless you have someone who can punch in the weight class with the Pac-12 and the NCAA.

There’s some hinting at an agent or lawyer being the “representation” when it comes to liability waivers, but you also need a big-time professional specialist – no, I won’t make any reference to Spencer Strasmore – whose high-powered sports management firm eats major corporate litigation and negotiation battles for a mid-morning snack.

Go it alone, and the potential to get destroyed in the PR battle is enormous. It starts with …

The possible second Great Depression holding on line 2

Players, read … the … room.

You’re never wrong with the Jerry Jones five keys to sales success – ask for the money, and forget the other four – but here’s one of your big misfires in your demand letter.

“Because we should be included in equitably sharing the revenue our talents generate, especially in a pandemic, #WeAreUnited.”

You’re demanding this NOW?!


YES, Pac-12 players, you deserve a cut of a pie. YES, you deserve to have full rights to your names, images, and likenesses. YES, schools do generate revenue off of licensing and other ways that you should get a part of, but in case you haven’t noticed, college sports in the fall of 2020 are nothing more than a delusional dream at the moment.

What, you’re going to boycott the season if you don’t get a cut of the football revenue from a 2020 campaign that either won’t happen, or will happen with no fans in the stands?

You think if you boycott playing football in 2020 there’s going to be the slightest appetite for any of your demands being met in 2021 – if things are close to normal again – when schools are trying to piece things back together?

Do you not see athletic departments all over the country slashing and cutting everything possible?

You might be totally in the right, but when it comes to optics and the national focus on school and colleges right now, you could lose everything on this alone considering every college parent is freaking the freak out over 1) sending the kid away to college while 2) blowing tens of thousands of dollars for a glorified streaming service.

Remember, Pac-12 players. The rich old people at the table became rich old people by being very, very good at this

Players, the possibility of college football happening in 2020 is hanging by the barest of threads. Don’t think for a moment that the Pac-12 – who’s this close to cancelling the whole thing anyway – won’t steamroll you and your demands by coming out with something like this if it thinks it can’t and won’t have a season …

“We hear you, Pac-12 student-athletes, and we’re looking forward to having an in-depth and meaningful dialogue to address each and every one of these issues. Out of concern for your safety and health in this time of an unprecedented global pandemic, and with an abundance of caution, we’re cancelling the 2020 fall athletic calendar for all sports. Student-athlete safety has, and always will be, the Pac-12’s top priority.”

Boycott movement over.

Or, maybe the Pac-12 chooses to go forward no matter who’s playing and sends out a press release like …

“We acknowledge the concerns of our student-athletes whose voices must be heard in these unprecedented times. We respect the wishes of those who choose to opt out for any reason as we push forward in what we hope to be a safe and exciting 2020 college football campaign.”

And then the Pac-12 plays its ten-game conference-only schedule, even if its with teams half full of walk-ons.

Boycott movement really over.

Then what? What’s your play, Pac-12 players?

And then, while you’re looking for a massive overhaul in the revenue model, there’s this from your letter of demands …

“End lavish facility expenditures and use some endowment funds to preserve all sports.”

Yeaaaaaah, okay … how many players chose a given school partly because of the kick-ass locker room and snazz facilities? (Hey, Oregon, how’s it goin’?)

It’s not like Stanford just whacked a slew of sports for something to do. Players, you might be demanding that they return, but while you’re fighting for social justice and change, you’re really trying to force a shift in the endowment system for … non-revenue sports?

Whatever. Go for it, Pac-12 players. You’re in the right, but …

Start with the sure-thing battles you can win.

Again … representation.

Focus all of your arguments on the demanded third party representation for your safety when it comes to COVID testing, protocols, and best practices.

If you say you don’t want to go to fall workouts because you don’t trust the schools’ ability to keep you safe from the virus – boom. No one outside of the super-cool coronadude deniers will say boo about you wanting to protect your health and well-being.

Get what’s there for the taking and don’t try to get too cute – that includes trying to redo the collegiate athletic budgets.

Complaining about the salaries of coaches and Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott – which you’re SO right about – will be greeted with a condescending laugh finished off with a sneer. They might temporarily cut their own salaries for PR purposes, but overall, if there’s something beyond a non-starter, that’s it.

Several of the other demands are more than gettable.

The NIL battle is almost all a positive. It’s going to take a fully-focused effort and – to be totally obnoxious by further hammering the already submerged nail – the proper representation to work with a Congress that appears to have a friendly lean to the players’ side.

You can win that.

A task force of leaders and experts to help end racial injustice in college sports and society is a given. That’s an easy win.

Participation in the charity work of your choosing, allow for a one-time player transfer without punishment, and the ability to return to school seven days after the draft if a player changes his mind about leaving early. You can win all of those.

The 50% revenue cut has zero shot, and the six-year health insurance idea after eligibility – which, I’d argue, doesn’t go nearly far enough – isn’t happening, but …

Someone has to try.

There’s no perfect way to do these things, and I do hope I’m wrong and the Pac-12 doesn’t put this away on the opening drive, but there’s something here to work off of. You started the discussion.

Thanks, Pac-12 players. Go for it.


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