Former Northwestern Wildcats quarterback Kain Colter was in downtown Chicago earlier on Tuesday to present his case as to why Northwestern should be able to form a union when he spoke at the National Labor Relations Board hearing.
The hearing is expected to last three days, but on the opening day, Colter made strong comments to the board as he tried to convey just how much playing college football takes out of you in the short and long-term and that it absolutely is a job.
“It truly is a job,” Colter tells Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune of playing college football. “There is no way around it. … “I like to think of it like the military/Navy SEALs. They spend months and weeks preparing for operations. It’s the same thing as football. We spend months getting ready for our operations.”
While college football players work longer and harder hours than many professionals in various industries, actually convincing the board that they should be considered employees is another thing, but College Athletes Players Association lawyer John Adam presented his opening argument.
“Northwestern football players must be disciplined, must be fit, must be diligent, resilient and smart,” he said. “They must be dedicated, they must put in long hours year-round. We will show that being a football player at Northwestern is hard work. It is work. It is a labor of love, but it is labor.”
“As you will hear,” Adam continued, “Northwestern is a good employer, the players appreciate what Northwestern does for them. At the same time, they want a voice in their working conditions, their health and safety, their insurance, medical treatments for injuries that stay with them long after football, sometimes forever.”
This likely will be a long and winding road for Colter and those seeking a union, but you can’t finish a marathon without taking that first step, and that’s what the former NU quarterback did today.
The comparison to the military and the Navy SEALS is a bit over the line however and shows he’s still a college kid.