By Ray Glier
I am going to be at a forum one of these days that will feature a labor lawyer and distressed college athletes sitting on a stage telling a tale of woe. I just know I will.
They will be talking about how they are exploited. I am going to nod my head and agree with them, but reserve sympathy.
If they want to see exploited employees they should work at Wal-Mart for $10 an hour. The athletes should see big box store employees having to get their children health care through limited state programs because they can’t afford it at work.
If the athletes want to see exploited they should work for $8 at a fast food restaurant and stand on their feet for eight hours and barely keep the car running and the heat on. Check out the revenue at these fast food stores. These companies make so much money they can buy NFL teams.
Exploited? How about factory workers whose businesses are bought by a Wall Street hustlers and their union is crushed and the per hour wage is dropped below $20 and they have a mortgage and kids in college.
You want exploited. President Trump’s first choice to be Labor Secretary, Andy Puzder, opposed minimum wage increases and overtime protections and paid sick days. Thank goodness he was shown the door.
Division I college football players are getting $3,000 to $5,500 in cash for spending money, plus $100,000 or more in education, health insurance, free tutors, a dental chair in a lot of training rooms, mental health experts to counsel them, and usually a couple of meals a day, and all the snacks they can stuff in their pockets. They can use steroids without being caught because they are protected and warned in advance of drug tests.
One positive test for pot and an employee at a retail store is fired. Athletes can get multiple chances.
I know these things. I have covered college sports for the NY Times, USA TODAY, The Washington Post, and many other outlets for 42 years. I have been on the ground and talked to athletes. They should get a little bit more money, sure. But our whole labor system is corrupt and the college athlete is way down the list of exploited workers in this country. The market takes better care of them than it does a lot of others.