Thursday, April 03, 2014

In a world where Nike is "Speedo" and Alberto Salazar is "Mark Schubert" - Track & field athletes want to rise against the empire and unionize!

Track & Field athletes inspired by the concept that both college football players and basketball players can unionize is taking the ruling by the National Labor Relations Board quite seriously. They are now talking about unionizing too after an all too powerful coach arguably gamed the rules at a track & field event.

From the Wall Street Journal: 
"... The discord follows two disqualifications at indoor nationals in February. Both cases involved runners coached by Nike coach Alberto Salazar, which prompted opposing coaches, athletes and competing sponsors to question Nike's influence with the USATF and how the body applies its rules. USATF rejected claims that anyone received special treatment.  
At the meet, as Brooks-sponsored Gabriele Grunewald sprinted to victory in the final leg of the 15-lap, 3,000-meter race, she clipped the heel of Nike runner Jordan Hasay, who finished fourth. Mr. Salazar, a three-time New York City Marathon champion, protested the result on the grounds that the contact impeded Ms. Hasay. Ms. Grunewald eventually was disqualified, though some people said the process deviated from USATF rules. 
Ms. Hasay later withdrew the protest amid backlash, and Ms. Grunewald was reinstated as the winner. 
In the men's 3,000 meters, Nike runner Andrew Bumbalough was disqualified for interfering with Galen Rupp, who was coached by Mr. Salazar and also is sponsored by Nike. Mr. Rupp came in second, while Mr. Bumbalough, who wasn't coached by Mr. Salazar, finished eighth. ..." 

Some supporting "players" in this "movie" that I did not mention in the title of this post are Brooks and Saucony (shoe company rivals to Nike).  They are the TYR and the Arena swimsuits of the sport.

In 2008 USA Swimming was essentially a marketing arm for Speedo. No other suit company could advertise in the USA Swimming magazine but Speedo. This rue was so ironclad that when a TYR logo appeared on a TYR sponsored swimmer in an article, it was ordered to be airbrush off the athlete's suit. Speedo, back then, owned all the marketing and advertising opportunities much like Nike currently has with US Track & Field today

Now I don't want to be racially offensive but the following analogy is going to apply. It is not hyperbole but rather a fact and the definition fits: There is a profound amount of track & field athletes that are of African descent. These athletes like many of their ancestors are now second string "share croppers" to their governing body.

A share cropper, (usually a former slave) would take out a loan from a landowner to buy seeds and tools. This sharecropper would work the land and a percentage of the crops when harvested would go to the landowner as payment. The crop amount delivered to the landowner was about half or maybe a little less than what was grown. On face value this seems fair, but the landowner set the prices that he would pay for the harvest which would be significantly less than market value. Since the sharecropper had no access to the markets at large. The end result was that the Negroes did all the work and the landowners made all the money.

Now enters the NRLB ruling that would allow Northwestern athletes to unionize. Well, it's now time for USA Swimming athletes to considering unionizing too and here is why: You the Olympic athlete are nothing but a "sharecropper." You are slaves to US Swimming. You have no access to royalty payments from the USOC, the IOC, or the advertisers. (About $30-million per year.) This includes royalties from all the Sports networks across the globe and even the royalty rights of your likeness well into in perpetuity.

I have always felt that USA Swimming athletes should unionize and now is the time.  Carpe diem, or, seize the day, athletes.

Tony Austin

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