Cody Miller Discusses Viability of ISL Strike, Status of Payments

Following a report that International Swimming League athletes are considering a boycott over late payments, DC Trident’s Cody Miller joined SwimSwam co-founder Mel Stewart to discuss the situation on the SwimSwam Podcast.

Miller, who is a member of the Swimmers’ Alliance, said that boycotting was never a realistic option and that athletes missing funds have now been paid. He added that the swimmers believe that a strike or boycott is not in the best interest of the sport. Aqua Centurion captain Fabio Scozzoli held a similar sentiment in an interview with SwimSwam Italia last week.

“There were extreme delayed payments. People were getting paid a year beyond when they were basically promised to get paid, and that’s a problem,” Miller said. “I saw a headline that said there was discussions of a strike. Obviously, in any circumstance when there’s something like this, that is an option. But to say that swimmers within this Alliance were actively considering a strike is a far cry… I mean, everyone understands that a strike, for the ISL, would be stupid, because it wouldn’t help the sport; it wouldn’t move the sport forward. I think Tom [Shields], in one of our threads, said “One of the only options we have is a ‘nuke,'” referring to a strike, “and we don’t want to detonate this nuke because it helps no one.”

Miller also said that despite the league’s missteps so far, the sport is in a better place than it was just a couple years ago, as exemplified by FINA’s increase in prize money across many of its events.

“As someone that’s a part of this league, we’re all just kind of rolling with the punches and understanding that there are some growing pains and they’re trying to work things out,” Miller said. “And hopefully, it gets better. From what I have heard, I think everybody — at least the athletes — have been paid out almost fully. So they’re remedying some of those late payments.

“Now I’m not going to make any excuses, that kind of thing is unacceptable for a league that is supposed to be professional, but I would counter some of those things by saying, ‘Look at how much better the athlete relationship with FINA is now opposed to two years ago. Look at what they’re doing with their league, look at what they’re doing with prize money.’ We are moving the needle forward. Is it strong enough? Probably not. It’s never enough. We want more, we want more. But you have to look at the circumstances and compare them to just a couple years ago. Have we made progress? Yes. Are athletes better off now than before? Yes. Are we there yet? Absolutely not.”

Miller also revealed — amid speculation around how long ISL founder Konstantin Grigorishinn can personally keep the league financially afloat — that a fourth ISL season seems to be in the works.

“Personally, having no understanding of how the true financials operate, because unless you’re inside the inner circle you don’t really know — we are all just speculating, that should be very clear and very well understood — from everything that I’ve heard, from people that work within the organization and under the organization, like the coaches, it sounds like we’re guaranteed at least one more season. So they’re pretty confident that that’s going to happen.”

Miller added that he hasn’t personally followed the reports on ISL happenings closely, but that it is promising that fans are interested.

“I’m glad that a lot of people want to follow this and are discussing it, because that creates intrigue and keeps people engaged,” he said.

Watch the full clip:

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Lpman
1 month ago

He’s just trying to stay relevant

Admin
Reply to  Lpman
1 month ago

1) We asked him the question, so, does that mean we’re just trying to keep him relevant?
2) He’s had a pretty good ISL season. He was top 3 in the 100 and 200 breast on all three occasions he swam them during the regular season.

jdsmitty1
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 month ago

Chad Braden strikes again

Swimfan
Reply to  Lpman
1 month ago

The full podcast hasn’t been released yet. This is just one topic, they discussed, among others.

Eagleswim
Reply to  Lpman
1 month ago

He’s a professional swimmer answering questions about professional swimming.

Last edited 1 month ago by Eagleswim
Cate
Reply to  Lpman
1 month ago

Are you?

SuperSwimmer 2000
Reply to  Lpman
1 month ago

So what if he is?

John
Reply to  Lpman
1 month ago

You must be floating on top of the water with all that saltiness

caeleb’s leg sleeve tat
Reply to  Lpman
1 month ago

imma be real with you, i have heard about cody miller but i have never heard of you

Swimmerfromjapananduk
Reply to  caeleb’s leg sleeve tat
1 month ago

Who tf is that guy

Last edited 1 month ago by Swimmerfromjapananduk
MIKE IN DALLAS
1 month ago

I think the writing is on the wall — or pool deck — one more season and then the water gets drained away.
I’m not an economist, but I never saw how the ISL was going to be making money or breaking even.
So, as a ‘subsidized’ sporting event, its viability is/will be in the hands of its benefactor.
Personally, I loved the competition, but I think the economic model simply doesn’t work long term.

Ghost
Reply to  MIKE IN DALLAS
1 month ago

Totally agree. A business model where someone just throws money into it and makes no money doesn’t seem like one that can last.

Togger
Reply to  MIKE IN DALLAS
1 month ago

That assumes that what Grigorishin wants from this is to make huge profits. I suspect his priorities are instead: (1) sports washing his name and the Energy Standard brand by association with a “feel good” asset rather than dubious tax dealings and being a key player in London’s oligarch litigation scene, similar to Abramovich buying Chelsea; and (2) legitimately moving money out of Ukraine, which if the government changes could easily become a Moscow client state (bad news for a guy sanctioned by Putin), into a much more stable political environment (ISL is registered in Switzerland).

Whilst it’s still achieving those goals, it should be safe medium term. Long term it does need to be a viable business or… Read more »

Cate
Reply to  MIKE IN DALLAS
1 month ago

My understanding is that they are losing money, which isn’t unusual for a startup. Time will tell I guess.

Yup
1 month ago

“C’mon, I’m not going to finish eighth”…..

ALDASP
Reply to  Yup
1 month ago

Yeah he didn’t, he finished in the top 3 at least half a dozen times this season 🙂

Deepblue
Reply to  Yup
1 month ago

Ironic because DC finished 8th this season

Swimmerfromjapananduk
Reply to  Deepblue
1 month ago

Not really ironic considering he wasn’t talking about the team

Stutterkick
1 month ago

So the money that the ISL gets from ad revenue on sports networks, and the sponsors on display at the matches doesn’t go back into funding the teams? Where does that money go?

Cate
Reply to  Stutterkick
1 month ago

????? The money they get from that hardly covers the expenses they have. It’s not just prize money. It’s all the other overhead they have.

Davetherave
1 month ago

I hope everything works out

Coach Mike 1952
Reply to  Davetherave
1 month ago

Best sentiment by far.

Steve Nolan
1 month ago

This is prior to listening but just based on how he was quoted here – he’s not wrong. The swimmer’s alliance as a union just doesn’t have the leverage any major sports union does. (NBA union, fairly strong! NFL, fairly weak! But they all have the power to strike during negotiations, where if ISL swimmers took that nuclear option it would most likely just blow up in their face.)

Their strongest option is pretty much what Miller is doing here – publicly being like, yeah, people aren’t getting paid and that sucks and is wrong. That’s probably the strongest nudge they can give the ISL without toppling the whole thing.

He’s also right that FINA has been treating… Read more »

Chas E
1 month ago

The decision not to strike baffles me. Swimmers are doing (or have done the work) in the hopes they might eventually get paid? That seems illogical.

They have nothing to lose by striking. Swimmers already aren’t getting paid as it is (the majority have not been paid despite what is being said on the comments here) so swimmers should hold out until they are paid. If they don’t get paid, the league may or may not fold and the swimmers are in the same position.

Then there is the issue of being paid on time (if they are eventually paid at all). The swimmers should collectively force the issue and ensure this doesn’t happen again.

Bossanova
Reply to  Chas E
1 month ago

Agreed. Keep working for free and the shady Russian oligarch will continue to not pay.

Mike
Reply to  Chas E
1 month ago

They understand that they are getting an opportunity that no swimmers have ever had before and May never get again if this does not eventually work out.
Worst case scenario they participate in a fun event doing what they love with just expenses covered and no pay. Best case scenario they are pioneers in a league that offers opportunities for years to come, and make enough money to keep doing their thing.

jdsmitty1
Reply to  Chas E
1 month ago

The thing if they strike would be there would be no hope for a future of ISL. The athletes don’t want ISL to die, and a strike for the playoffs would guarantee the end of ISL. I don’t think it was ever much of a realistic option and more of an idea that got blown up because of how big of an issue it would be if a strike were to happen. At least they’re going to try to ensure that ISL can continue to exist, which seems like a giant hurdle but not totally impossible.

Chas E
Reply to  jdsmitty1
1 month ago

Disagree. We don’t know whether a strike will do anything either way. An agreement was made. Swimmers fulfilled their end and ISL has not. The swimmers are no worse off if they strike. Continuing to swim without being paid encourages the ISl to continue to not act.

Mike
Reply to  Chas E
1 month ago

If it is just a matter of the ISL powers that be being complacent, then you are right. If they are actually doing what they can to make it work and struggling, then patience is warranted. There are not a great number of similar options for pro swimmers.

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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