It isn’t about that. Many folks look at headlines about players – described as spoiled, entitled, prima donnas, arguing about their contracts, combined with them running afoul of the law, and conclude from those headlines and lead ESPN stories that this represents the majority of NFL players. It doesn’t even represent a large minority of players.
The vast majority of players are decent human beings who are involved in and give back to their communities, who value their fans, and who love the game. They are not in it to just collect a paycheck, even if sometimes they squabble over millions.
To try to reduce the situation is nothing more than millionaires and billionaires not able or willing to figure out how to share the big pie is to make a vapid argument. It shows you have swallowed the Big Lie. Worst of all, it’s the type of framing that plays into the owners’ hands. The strange American anti-union attitude is even more fierce when it comes to those are who are paid well for their craft.
It’s the players who bust their asses year round to be able to perform at a high level. This isn’t 1955, where the season starts at training camp. Players have mini-camps, quarterback schools, “voluntary” OTAs (organized team activities) – all designed to keep them sharp.
This isn’t about millionaires vs. billionaires. It’s about the management class and workers. It’s about the right to collectively bargain, the right to secure a remunerative income, a safe workplace, and to be able to receive health benefits if things go wrong without facing financial ruin. Owners are trying to minimize those rights for the players. It matters not that the players make an average annual salary at least 20 times more than the average working stiff. It matters not that they do so “just to play a game”. They put their bodies through a grueling process to play that game at a high level. They know going in what the potential risks are, and have every right to try to secure for themselves as much as possible in a fair deal.
Union workers who aren’t paid 6 or 7 figure salaries also fight constantly to maintain decent wages, safe workplaces, decent benefits, and fair processes for hiring, promotions, and employee discipline. It can’t be repeated often enough that it isn’t about two wealthy factions fighting against each other. The larger issue is the right of workers to not be at the mercy of their employers. It’s the same battle that is going on in several states over public employees collective bargaining rights.
And if a lockout were to persist deep into the scheduled season, or, Flying Spaghetti Monster forbid, wipe out the entire season, the players are far from the only ones who will bear the brunt of it, nor will the fans who watch the games on TV or attend them. So many people depend on the football season for their livelihood that time of year. Stadium food vendors, NFL merchandise vendors, sports bar owners, wait staff and bartenders, stadium security detail, stadium medical staff, independent food vendors outside of stadiums, etc. Those communities with NFL teams also lose whatever tax revenue that would normally be brought in. Those folks cannot easily find another job to replace their lost incomes – especially not in this economy. The owners are, more than anything else, showing the typical “I’ve got mine, if you don’t have yours it’s your own damn fault so screw you!” attitude.
This lockout matters for so many reasons, and not just because of a potential lost NFL season. Don’t buy into the “two greedy factions” meme.