This Sunday Morning I sat down to watch the Sports Reporters on ESPN and the first topic of discussion was the negotiations between the Players Association and the NFL. My goodness even in sports I can’t escape politics. The Union theme we are seeing in Wisconsin really does permeate a lot of our national culture today. The question was asked at the beginning “who do you think the fans are siding with, the players or the owners” The answer by one of the Reporters was “I fear they are siding with Football” Why is that something to fear? Should we as fans (consumers) not want the best product, which in turn provides jobs for everyone in the NFL (company) from the grounds crew to the owners, is that not better for everyone?
Well apparently not. I am not going to pretend I know everything at stake and that I know the economics of pro-athletics, I do not. I know that a responsible owner should address the needs of all it’s employees, not just some. I know the employees should do what the boss tells them too, not just when they want to. However, what I know most is that both had better provide a product that everyone wants or they are history. In this economy it is sickening to see Millionaires* and Billionaires quibbling over this stuff, What is even more disgusting is the spin that media wants to put on it. Don’t get me wrong the NFL does some things that tick me off and needs to be addressed, but I am not so naive enough to think that the players don’t have some role to play in keeping this product out there for the fans.
The media is spinning this as the owners not willing to address the concerns of the athletes and the toll this takes on their bodies, and that the owners are just tying to gouge the players to make up costs for some bad investments, like unneeded stadiums. They want you the fan to hold the owners responsible if this goes south and the grounds crew, the office clerk, the water boy, and the ticket vendor lose their jobs in this tough economy while the fat cat owners get to keep theirs. Well lets spin this the other way, the players knew the risks, it’s football for crying out loud, your gonna get hit** The players would be wanting a little bigger piece of the pie if the owners risky investments had paid off (say didn’t building those stadiums provide jobs to construction crews and architect firms), and the players are just as irresponsible as the owners for not reaching an agreement and putting the low level employees out of a job (this is not even counting the peripheral jobs from other companies like broadcasting and merchandise) while these fat cat players get to keep theirs.
So lets stop the spin, a contract is a contract, fix it, listen to each other, realize what is at stake because if both sides screw up there are a lot of people in the middle and surrounding this behemoth that will be affected, and stop trying to pit the fan against the athlete or owner and be ready to play football next season.
Sadly this problem as we can see is not just contained to football, because up in Wisconsin if this goes bad, its against teachers and children, again tugging on heart strings and not recognizing the reality of the situation and everyone coming together to make a bad situation better for all. No all we see now is how can I get mine, screw the other guy. Screw the fan, screw the taxpayer. If we keep that mentality there will not be much left of the NFL, The Players Association, The Union, Wisconsin, or this Nation.
Some side commentary
*Yes I know not everyone that is a player makes a boat load, but these millionaire players have no qualms about making a ton of cash when their O-Line and back ups make little, where’s the fairness and equality there, so get up off the high horse
**Your making a ton of money, if that can’t help your medical bills then nothing will, or you could stop trying to tear each other heads off every time. What is sad is these millionaire players think nothing of helping their less financially stable co-workers as there medical problems seem to be prevalent now after years of laying it all out there for the millionaire players and billionaire owners. No neither the owner or player has to do anything nor should they be made to, but how about trying to do some charity for the less fortunate instead of trying to see if you can play gotch ya with each other. This seems to be a lot like how politics works in this country, get nothing done and say gotch ya.
UPDATE: Here is the Freakonomics page discussing the situation. Looks like they are the ones that popularized the Billionaire vs. Millionaire phrase. Thanks to Anon Post #1 for tipping us off to this.
Freakenomics had an awesome podcast about this!