Rick Telander, a respected columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and author of the book The Hundred Yard Lie, which exposed a lot of the myths and hypocrisy surrounding college football when it was released in the late 90’s, has written a column calling for a players strike in big-time college sports.

If the players don’t strike, “the powers that be will never cede anything except crumbs of fairness, just enough to keep the feds away and enough to make it seem as if they actually care,” wrote Telander. “They do not.”

Telander goes on to decry the fact that the players don’t get a cut of the revenue that allows coaches like LSU’s Les Miles and Alabama’s Nick Saban to make well over $4 million a year. Telander, like Joe Nocera in a recent New York Times Magazine article, wants players to get paid from athletic department coffers. Patrick Hruby, in an Atlantic magazine feature, calls for a change in the rules that would allow players to collect all the outside endorsement and booster money they can get (just like any other college student) as an alternative to trying to figure out how paying college players a salary would actually work in practice. Basically, Hruby says the best approach is simply to legalize money handshakes.

Telander, Nocera and Hruby all make good arguments. The question today isn’t when college athletes will get paid (at least in the big-time revenue sports) but when.

The good news is the march for fairness is gaining steam.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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