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Let's talk about what Jim Phillips got right

Yesterday, I wrote a piece calling out Jim Phillips for his comments on unionization, mainly because his arguments against it misrepresented the current reality of Northwestern's athletic department, and other athletic departments around the country.

I stand by my statements that 1) "Operating in the black" is a bad economic argument for not being able to afford to give players benefits, and 2) Arguing against unionization because of Title IX inequity is disingenuous, because Title IX equity doesn't even exist right now. I have very good data to support those points.

However, some people pointed out that I was irresponsible in choosing to write about that instead of Phillips' other comments on student-athlete welfare. While I'm typically averse to writing "college football administrator says he's looking out for student-athletes" types of articles, since it's all rhetoric and basically allows administrators to use media as PR without putting action to their words, I agree that, in this case, I should've included more about what Phillips got right.

That doesn't mean I shouldn't have fact-checked his other statements, which data prove to be disingenuous and misrepresentative at best. But there's one statement I should have expanded on, because Phillips deserves a lot of credit for suggesting it. From ESPN:

"We've asked them in the past to be in an advisory role," Phillips told ESPN.com. "We need them to be in an active, voting capacity. No one is living the experience like they are. We can do that in a way that makes sense, and it's necessary."

Phillips recognizes that student-athlete advisory committees do absolutely nothing to give athletes a voice. In that sense, he's more progressive than most of his peers. Whether you agree with his stance on unionization or not, you have to give him credit for proposing such a radical step forward.

Throughout the union debate, I've tried to keep my personal opinion out of my writing, because it really doesn't matter what I think. You might disagree with that because so many of my articles have attacked Northwestern's and the NCAA's arguments, but I'd encourage you to look back and see that I always attack the truthfulness and legal validity of those arguments, rather than the morality of them.

I really don't care what Jim Phillips thinks about unionization, and I don't expect him to support it. But in this instance, I saw some arguments that don't have much data to support them, and I thought the public should know these are not necessarily legitimate reasons to oppose the union. However, in doing so, I also misrepresented Phillips' views by not including how progressive he really is on the issue. That was a mistake.