Building a Nationwide Community of College Football Players

The Continued Development of the CFBPA

This is a free online newsletter for Jason Stahl, Executive Director of the College Football Players Association (CFBPA). If you’d like to sign up for the newsletter, you can do so here. If you’d like to support the work we’re doing in building the CFBPA, please consider a donation over at our official organization website. In October, we are particularly seeking NEW DONORS at any amount $10 or above. By the end of the month, our goal is to solicit 1,000 new donors to add to our existing donor base. So, please consider helping at whatever level you’re able to. All donations, while not tax deductible, are kept private.

When we launched the CFBPA in late July, we wondered whether or not the sports media would take notice and were very happy when they did. From our initial launch being covered by ESPN, we’ve gotten consistent coverage from a wide variety of sports media and I urge you to check out all of those stories over at the CFBPA website on our media page.

I imagined that it would take much longer for non-sports outlets to cover what we’re trying to do at the CFBPA. Last week, however, we received unexpected help in this regard when the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Jennifer Abruzzo, issued a “guidance memo” to all NLRB field offices. As always, Michael McCann at Sportico provides some of the best analysis of the contents of the memo and so I urge you to read his entire write-up.

In some important ways the memo is actually very simple. Abruzzo declared that so-called “student-athletes” are actually employees of their schools under the National Labor Relations Act. As such, they are entitled to “act collectively” and “improve their terms and conditions of employment.” Given that the NLRB has jurisdiction over private colleges and universities, many are correctly arguing that Abruzzo is opening the door for the creation of unions of college athletes at such institutions. Some even saw a footnote in the memo as Abruzzo opening the same door at state public colleges and universities.

Although it does not have the force of law, the memo is obviously a huge step forward for what we’re trying to do with the CFBPA. Many in the media recognized this and it led to new coverage. Advisory board member Michael Hsu talked about the memo’s implications with sports reporters in USA Today and I was interviewed for the first time by a non-sports outlet.

I’m grateful for the coverage Hamilton Nolan gave us in the magazine In These Times which reaches many in the labor organizing community that may not have heard about the CFBPA. Nolan’s article did a good job of laying out our plans for the remainder of the year and so I urge you to read it in full.

In my newsletter today I wanted to expand on a thread from Nolan’s piece which I think is extraordinarily important to stress when assessing the implications of Abruzzo’s memo. Namely, while the memo is important and welcome it nevertheless only slightly alters the power imbalance for college football players nationwide. Once players at a school are ready to attempt to establish a union chapter, this memo will be very helpful as they gear up for the final steps of this process. However, the memo does nothing to alter the huge organizational challenges presented to college football players nationwide. Two such challenges stand out. First, players are subject to easy retaliation through pulled scholarships and/or loss of playing time--both of which are extraordinarily hard to police. Secondly, this is an unbelievably transient workforce with teams changing over every year for multiple reasons. So, while we celebrate the memo we also want to be cognizant of the challenges ahead of us.

However, we think that the CFBPA is uniquely positioned to meet and overcome these challenges if we stick with the vision we have in place for building our new institution. I urge you to read about this vision at our website, but the gist of it is this: we want to build a long-term stable institution--a players association--composed of individuals and chapters that feel bound to one another in a CFBPA community. By building a players association one member and one chapter at a time, we believe that we will build the necessary collective voice, relationships and community through which major structural reform of college football and college athletics is possible. Once this hard work of building such a community has happened, individual chapters which want to unionize will be a natural--and imminently possible--next step.

How will this community be built? First and foremost by current college football players making the individual decision to become a member of the CFBPA. If you are a current college football player, you can do that right at this link and then you can talk with your teammates about becoming a member as well. As we add more members we can gauge where we have the greatest potential for establishing a CFBPA chapter. If you are a current player who has questions about membership or chapter development, please do not hesitate to reach out with questions by emailing me at

However, to really build this nationwide community, we are going to need help from anyone and everyone who is interested in our mission. This includes high school football players who think they might be college bound and who can sign up for our high school membership category. This includes parents of high school and college football players who can sign up for our parent membership category. This includes former college football players who are done playing the game but want to register for our alumni membership. It includes others who might be interested in helping as a volunteer.

Finally, it means building our financial resources before the end of the month. If you support what we’re doing, I ask that you consider donating any amount of money $10 or above. In October, we are particularly seeking NEW DONORS. By the end of the month, our goal is to solicit 1,000 new donors to add to our existing donor base. So, please consider helping at whatever level you’re able to. All donations, while not tax deductible given that we will be filing with the IRS as a 501(c)4 nonprofit, are kept private.

One final note before I sign off from this addition of my newsletter. Since my last newsletter updating on CFBPA activities, I wanted to note that we continue to add to our fantastic advisory board. We are very grateful to add Roxanne (Roxy) McCray and Corey Staniscia to the board. Roxy developed the advocacy group NFL Wives for Change while Corey is a leader in the world of NIL reform. Head on over to their links to check out their full bios.