When Kain Colter stood up and advocated for college athletes who needed protection, he was speaking from experience.
While the former Northwestern quarterback made a point not to complain about any of the treatment he received at Northwestern when he stood up and announced he and his teammates were looking to unionize on Tuesday, Colter is not without his own moments as an injured student-athlete.
One of the main goals of Colter's newly formed College Athletes Players Association (CAPA) — the organization that could become a union that collectively bargains on behalf of college athletes if the National Labor Relations Board rules in favor of Colter, his partners and his teammates — is to better protect college athletes, be it from concussions that stem from playing football and other contact sports or the medical expenses that follow sports-related injuries.
“Football is a brutal game, and guys are going to tear ACLs and have major injuries," Colter said Tuesday. "And who’s to say you don’t need another surgery, something down the line? Who’s to say you don’t need a knee replacement somewhere down the line just from playing football? Or just because you’re removed from your eligibility, you shouldn’t be covered by that? For me that’s not really fair.”
And Colter has been through injuries himself very recently.
His senior season at Northwestern was marred by various ailments. He was hurt on the season's opening drive at Cal that knocked him out of the game, and he sustained another injury several weeks later at Wisconsin. That's not to mention the time he was absolutely drilled into the ground vs. Michigan State and the overall extensive physical toll that come with playing football.
Injuries to Colter and running back Venric Mark derailed Northwestern's once-promising season. Colter is fighting to make sure injuries to other athletes don't derail their lives.
“My goal is to make sure that all student-athletes are set up for success long after their playing days are over," Colter said. "Unfortunately, basic necessities struggle to be delivered to these student-athletes despite the billions of dollars being generated annually. Never should a student-athlete be forced to pay his or her own medical bills in their playing days. The same medical issues that professional athletes face are the same medical issues that collegiate athletes face, only that we are left unprotected."