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Chart helps explain why college football fans are anti-union

While many fans of all political stripes are surely uneasy with the mixing of labor and amateurism, the makeup of the sport's biggest fans could show that the battle lines go even deeper.

While support for NCAA change has been fairly apolitical so far, support for change in the courts, especially via a player union, has garnered far less universal support.

A February poll by HBO Real Sports and Marist College showed 75 percent of respondents against a college football union. In an ESPN poll, 51 percent replied, "Players should get more, but not form a union." And a Washington Post poll found the public split down the middle on a union that would allow players "to negotiate their rights and working conditions," but strongly opposed to "paying salaries to college athletes" (it should be noted that the union movement's stated initial goals align more closely with improving working conditions).

This chart from the National Journal (via could explain why college football is a particularly challenging sport in which to sell a union.

Typically, Republicans are against unions, and college football is one of the most "Republican" sports in the country. That makes sense, considering the sport is most popular in the South and the rural Midwest — areas that generally vote Republican. College football is a more conservative sport than baseball, whose own unionization followed a similar path.

What's ironic is that the desire to keep college football the same has actually shifted political ideologies in some ways.

Republicans generally favor free market systems, but the O'Bannon and Kessler lawsuits — which many college football fans oppose — are proposing much more free market systems than the current one. A free market system could also enable schools to use their own revenues to help pay players, rather than using tax-funded Pell grants.