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What We're Fighting For
Unveiling the CFBPA Platform for Change
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 by clicking the subscribe button above. If you’d like to financially support our efforts at the CFBPA you can do that here. If you are a past, present or future college football player, I ask that you consider becoming a member of the CFBPA.
Any good movement needs a platform to tell the public and prospective members exactly what we’re hoping to accomplish. Our movement here at the CFBPA is no different. However, up until this point I, and our Leadership Committee, have waited to unveil any part of our platform to the public. With so many open and complicated questions facing the world of college football today, we are wary of weighing in with a full collective platform for change until the end of our Summer Membership Drive. At that point, we’ll survey our members and produce a full platform letting the world of college football know where the players stand on NIL regulation, transfer portal regulation, college football expansion and every other complicated issue facing the world of college football today.
However, the Leadership Committee agreed that there were at least a few platform planks we wanted to unveil today. On some issues, there will likely be very little debate among our membership and it is with one of these issues where we will begin our platform planks. This issue is player health. From physical to mental health, college football—and college athletics generally—has seen player after player after player suffer and in some cases die from the strains of their sport. As an institution, we’ve developed our first three platform planks with this reality in mind. Here they are:
Guaranteed independent medical care enforced by a CFBPA rep
Health, safety and welfare practice guidelines similar to the NFL and Ivy League football enforced by a CFBPA rep
Health insurance after playing days are over to cover football-related injuries.
Every single one of our members, and every single college football player I have ever spoken to, has a story about the toll the sport takes on their body and their mind. These three platform planks are intended to make sure that toll will not be as great and that whatever toll is taken will be taken care of when players’ careers are over.
The third platform plank is the most straightforward but the first first two require a bit more explanation. The NCAA, despite being founded to deal with issues of health, safety and player welfare in the game of football, has completely abandoned that responsibility. While the NCAA has numerous guidelines and “best practices” regarding player safety, the fact remains that monitoring, investigating and enforcement of these guidelines is nonexistent. In a recent case involving former Oregon lineman Doug Brenner, the NCAA attorneys called such monitoring, investigating and enforcement “unworkable.”
Here at the CFBPA, we do think that monitoring and enforcement are workable and our solution is the CFBPA rep. A fuller outline of the rep is contained in our CFBPA vision online. However, in short, the rep is an independent third-party advocate who is employed by the CFBPA and who is embedded in every football program. That person, likely a former college football player who played for a different program, would be there to ensure that rules and regulations were being followed within the program.
In the case of our first platform plank, the rep would ensure that players were receiving truly independent medical care not subject to a coach’s influence. As to our second platform plank, that person would be there to enforce new health, safety and welfare practice guidelines similar to the NFL and Ivy League football. As I’ve written about before, most of college football is woefully behind today’s NFL when it comes to practice safety. Despite being an extraordinarily controllable environment, injuries, concussions and even deaths are far too common in college football practices and training rooms. Like the NFLPA, who negotiated new practice guidelines in the last decade, we aim to negotiate the same with the CFBPA rep as the enforcement mechanism.
There will be naysayers to these planks and especially the workability of the CFBPA rep. Obviously, a negotiated collective bargaining agreement (CBA) would be the best way to guarantee that the rep be truly independent and provide third-party enforcement. However, we also would not rule out working with forward-thinking head coaches who are willing to cede some control in exchange for a better, safer and healthier workplace for all involved. We are open to all possible avenues to move our platform planks forward.
For now, we intend to use these planks to organize and add new members in our Summer Membership Drive. In the media, and most importantly in our peer-to-peer conversations with prospective members, these planks will be at the center of our conversations. Leadership Committee member Justin Falcinelli showed exactly how this works in a recent radio interview and so I urge you to check it out. More media will be coming in the days and weeks ahead. Stay tuned!