Stephen Colbert returned to his comedic roots Tuesday when he took on the topic of Northwestern University’s football unionization efforts.
“Unionize? Players aren’t supposed to want money, they’re supposed to be in it for the love of selling sponsorship to Tostitos,” the Northwestern University alum said on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” Tuesday.
Colbert, who spoke at the university's 2011 commencement ceremony and received an honorary degree, quickly referenced his relationship with the school, stating that he hears “Northwestern University graduates some quality people with excellent education.”
He then went on to satirically tackle the issues addressed by former NU quarterback Kain Colter and other athletes.
“Northwestern players are not employees of the university. They don’t get paid so technically they are slaves of the university,” Colbert said.
The athletes recently received a vote of support from the National Labor Relations Board, and traveled to Capitol Hill Wednesday in hopes of gaining support from lawmakers.
"The number one thing is just raising awareness and getting people in our corner," Colter said in advance of meetings with Ill. Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. Jan Schakowsky. "Especially people with this amount of status and the power that they do have, it'd be great to have their support."
Colter co-founded the College Athletes Players Association and serves on its board of directors with former basketball player Luke Bonner, and former UCLA football player Ramogi Huma, who founded the union and was a featured guest on “The Colbert Report” Tuesday.
“Now when football goes away forever I can blame unions instead of concussions,” Colbert told Huma.
Huma reiterated that CAPA says the new union is necessary to "challenge the treatment of players under the current pay-for-play system for college athletes." It cites a court case in which the NCAA stated it has no legal duty to protect college athletes from injury.
“Walk if off, tough it out, suck it up, Bear down, find that extra gear, hunker down… do these words mean nothing? Colbert replied. “We’ve seen what unions have done to employment in the United States already. Are you ready for the Ohio State University’s front line to be outsourced to Bangalore?”
Northwestern football players are set to vote on whether they will form a union on April 25. Northwestern is expected to appeal the National Labor Relations Board's ruling.
College athletes want to get paid? Who do they think they are, the coach/staff/concessions guy/janitor?
— Stephen Colbert (@StephenAtHome) April 2, 2014
Watch the full interview here.