Worst Person, Great Point?

Do we, in fact, have to hand it to State Senator Niraj Antani (R-Sewer)?

Clickhole.com, a subsidiary of The Onion, has a classic article entitled, “Heartbreaking: The Worst Person You Know Just Made a Great Point.”

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In Ohio politics, there is nobody worse than State Senator Niraj Antani, the guy who began his political career by lobbying the widow at the funeral of his predecessor to appoint him to the recently vacated seat in the Ohio House of Representatives.

The last time we saw Antani, he was likely violating state ethics laws by touring Ohio’s two new MLS stadiums in districts he doesn’t represent with an unregistered lobbyist for Koch Industries who moonlights as a soccer vlogger. Before that, he was at High Beck Tavern making a bartender search three trashcans for his mask and threatening to “own me” when I told him to fuck off.

When it comes to politics, I’ve always said I’d work with the Devil himself if he had a plan to benefitted working people. Well, that’s easier said than done as I checked my Twitter feed yesterday and saw Antani standing on a stage with Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith.

At first I thought this was the benefit awarded to a State Senator continuing the Ohio Legislature’s long-standing tradition of splurging thousands of dollars in campaign contributions on Ohio State football tickets.

My suspicions were incorrect. Niraj was actually introducing a piece of legislation that is close to my heart… in a good way.

College athletics is like a reverse pyramid scheme, where the money produced by predominantly black athletes flows back into the pockets of executives and coaches and funds non-revenue-producing programs like pistol or lacrosse.

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There is no logical reason why college athletes shouldn’t be considered employees, especially since the term “student-athlete” was created entirely so universities could shirk workmen’s compensation claims from their athletes.

At the very least, athletes should be able to profit off their name, image and likeness. If somebody like former Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields were as good at anything else besides playing football, he would already be a multimillionaire in his trade. This is how it works in European soccer and somehow the continent hasn’t crumbled into the sea.

So, touché to Antani for actually proposing pro-worker legislation for the first time in his life. I’ll give him that. I am also disappointed (but not surprised) that a single Democrat in either chamber of the State Legislature couldn’t figure out a way to put forward their own proposal.

College athletics are kind of a big deal in Ohio, and the ostensible pro-worker party got outflanked on this issue by a career opportunist.

Sixteen states already have Name, Image and Likeness laws on the books, so it’s no surprise our legislature is lagging on the issue. It’s also unsurprising that legislation pushed by Antani can be described as “tepid.”

Consider this thread from Matt Brown, the nicest guy in the world and author of the informative, behind-the-scenes college athletics newsletter, Extra Points, to which you should subscribe:

I wouldn’t be surprised if Ohio State Athletic Department officials basically wrote this bill for Antani. Gene Smith has long been a proponent of an NIL, but he was always going to do that in a way that was as painless as possible for his employer and multimillionaire coaches.

If Niraj had any heart at all, he would have written a bill that have given Ohio State football players a clear-cut advantage in recruiting. Who cares if players older than 21 want to hawk beer? Ohio State sells suds at their games. Why shouldn’t they be allowed to sign a deal for life-changing money simply because Ohio State has some pissant deal putting their competitor’s logo on the field goal nets or whatever? They’re not employees, right?

No, instead we got a press conference allowing Antani and Ohio State to pretend they’re on the forefront of this issue when in actuality both entities dragged their feet and are now pushing half-measures as an answer.

THOSE WMDs. Spy who got the cold shoulder: How the West abandoned its star defector… The second-largest country in the world is running out of land… How the 18th-century gay bar survived and thrives in a deadly environment… You can only maintain so many close relationships… Where did all the saxophones go?