To Go or Not to Go

Those of you who are long long time readers know that I am a big fan of the National Football Leader (NFL). I love watching football, so the idea of a work stoppage in the NFL comes as a serious disappointment.

But I understand and support the players in their labor dispute with the NFL owners. If you, gentle reader, seriously think about the issues involved, I thoroughly believe you too should support the players. After all, how many of you would be happy having your first full-time employer selected for you rather than you choosing the company? How many of you would tolerate working conditions in a career that only lasted 3.5 years because of the dangers involved? How many of you would accept working conditions that shortened your life expectancy by 25 years? If you did choose such a career path, wouldn’t you want the best healthcare and retirement benefits possible? These are the main issues that separate the players and the owners in the NFL.

A number of well-known and well-respected players have spoken out in support of the union positions. Several of these players have used analogies to slavery in their statements, for which they have been taken to task by the sports media. If one thinks of slavery in the crudest sense of the word, those criticisms of the players are justified in some degree. However if one gives serious thought to what the players are saying the analogy to slavery is not so far-fetched. Much of the way players in both the NFL and NBA(National Basketball Association) are recruited and treated in terms of their business relationships with ownership has, imho, it’s roots in the plantation system that fostered slavery in this country. For me, it is no coincidence that the majority of athletes in both the NFL and the NBA are black. I don’t intend to expound on this topic right now, but ,imho, there is a deep-seated and extremely subtle form of racism inherit in both leagues.

One of the ways that the NFL Players Association wants to express it’s displeasure with ownership is by encouraging those collage players who have entered the 2011 NFL draft not to attend the draft extravaganza in New York next month. Members of the sports media, including former NFL players, have criticized this effort, saying that the draft experience is something special for these athletes. For me, that’s like saying being sold at auction was a special day for slaves and something they should look forward to. The NFL draft is nothing more then a “meat” market. The draftees, in the events leading up to the draft (the NFL combine), are poked and prodded much in the same way that animals are prior to an auction, although the combine prodding is done at a much more sophisticated level. It is not coincidental that NFL owners refer to their players as property and that many of the legal definitions used to establish the basic relationship between players and owners are used by the rest of us to establish property rights. If that ain’t slavery then I don’t know what is.

I urge the NFL PA and it’s members to stick by their guns. It is time that this demeaning relationship between players and owners in pro sports comes to and end and that players be given the same rights as employees that the rest of us enjoy. If it means going without football for a season or more, so be it. This is one fan who would completely understand.

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