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Men Will Be Boys: The NFL Lockout Ends With Labor Agreement

Men Will Be Boys: The NFL Lockout Ends With Labor Agreement

 

It was described as the billionaires against the millionaires. It was characterized as akin to a nasty (very nasty) marital spat: “If this is the way the owners and players choose to renew their vows to each other in a marriage that really can’t be ended, I would guess both sides still have plenty of work to do on the issue of commitment.” (Don Banks, Sports Illustrated) After the ugly spectacle of prolonged posturing by both sides, last night the players signed off on an agreement that will preserve the sacrosanct American autumn Sunday afternoon: Television and beer, tailgate parties and crazed fans, obscenely skewed revenues and salaries, choreographed violence and the occasional moment of transcendent grace. Football.

The entire process was embarrassing to witness. We’re not talking about a group of overworked, underpaid employees struggling to get a small hike in their minimum wage so that they have the means for a marginally comfortable existence, maybe even send the kids to college. We’re talking players who, even at the lowest rung of the NFL ladder, are making more yearly than many of their contemporaries make in a lifetime. And of course if you’re an elite player, you’re rolling in it. We’re talking owners who, despite having more riches than they can spend in numerous turns of the karmic wheel, still want more. We’re talking franchises that, despite large profits, in some circumstances enjoy tax-exempt status, for heaven’s sake It’s hard to be sympathetic.

The owners claim that they bear the financial risk of losing seasons (and thus their fanbase), the maintenance of elaborate facilities, the rigors of managing large and cumbersome organizations… in other words, for keeping the ball rolling; they deserve the lion’s share because they own the darned thing, after all, and in capitalist America, ownership trumps fairness. The players protest that they deserve a bigger share of the big bucks for exposing themselves to the physical dangers of the game, one in which the typical length of employment is three to four years. After much pressure and initial denials, the NFL finally conceded that concussions are a tragically common occurrence and that many players face post-gridiron years compromised by head injuries and other debilitating conditions. Perhaps that’s why the current labor agreement extends medical coverage to most players for their lifetimes, and extends injury protection.

As far as the rest of it goes, well, gag me with a spoon. I’m sure the details are important in the context of that world, but for the rest of us, all that matters is that football will be happening this fall. Training camps can begin as can the trash-talk and the swagger.

I love football, I admit it. I like its speed, its athleticism, its rare but truly thrilling moments. I love it when my team wins and I know what it feels like to bask in reflected glory when one’s team wins it all. And I believe that, occasionally, a championship season can lift up a wounded community: just remember what happened in post-Katrina New Orleans when the Saints won the Super Bowl in 2010. Or the recent triumph of the Japanese women’s soccer team in the World Cup. Professional sports can make a difference.

Men sometimes will be boys, and sometimes boys don’t grow up. But sometimes games grow up and big and the NFL, for both owners and players, is big business. Game on.

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12 comments

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10:22AM PDT on Jul 27, 2011

Business is business and not supposed to be personal. No room for whiny babies in this arena.

4:55AM PDT on Jul 27, 2011

About time. I enjoy watching football.

7:30PM PDT on Jul 26, 2011

True sport is a joy for the individuals involved, pure and simple. THIS is about money-money-money, and EGO TRIPS!

I don't give a flying f**k if football is ever played again anywhere in the world. The amount of money WASTED on this professional big-dick contest could rescue public schools and public education all over the country!

It just goes to show how badly skewed most people's priorities have gotten!

4:05PM PDT on Jul 26, 2011

Actually I'm done with football. I enjoyed the Packers ( only team owned by the people ) and will always remember the good old days. Now it's all about money, and that makes me sick.

4:01PM PDT on Jul 26, 2011

Go Packers )

11:39AM PDT on Jul 26, 2011

I used to be a big NFL fan. But I will no longer watch the multimillionaire cry babies who play a kids game for whiny multibillionaires.

10:09AM PDT on Jul 26, 2011

Maybe our government should look at how these guys compromised so they can get something done too.

9:40AM PDT on Jul 26, 2011

My sentiments exactly. My question is what do the fans get out of all this? These rich slugs continually say that this was all for the fans. Really? Are they going to lower the ticket prices so the people who have lost their jobs can afford to see a game? Are they going to lower the price of hotdogs or drinks so parents can afford to treat themselves and their kids? Are they going to hold up their collective bargaining rights as an example to the states whose employees have had their bargaining rights and benefits stripped from them by radical Tea Party fascist governors?

Sorry but I just don't see how this benefits anyone except the millionaires and billionaires. Am I supposed to be happy because they found a way to make each other richer while 98% of the other Americans fight every day to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads?

Is it just me or is there something really wrong here?

7:46AM PDT on Jul 26, 2011

All that money should be going to the betterment of society - not some stupid game where they get their heads bashed in - it is terrible that society worships a game instead of what is really important - its out of control, look at Vancouver and the hockey fans - we need to ask ourselves "how are we raising our young boys"?

5:42AM PDT on Jul 26, 2011

Now when are the colleges going to get around to paying their student athletes? The football pipeline begins at 8 years old and ends with a debilitating injury or tired and worn out knees around 28 years old. Twenty years, millions of dollars in training, development, booster clubs, advertisements, alumni contributions, and TV and cable payouts. Shouldn't these athletes receive the gravy before the NFL Draft? Better yet, pay all of this pre NFL money to the single mothers, minimum wage earning couples, or single grandmothers who raise these guys and stretch themselves to provide a roof over their heads, food on the table, drive them to practices and weight lifting workouts, and keep the players' noses to the grindstone to remain academically eligible to play each and every Fall Friday night or Saturday afternoon!

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