I don’t spend too much time worrying about labor agreements in professional sports. Unless there is an actual lockout, which is rare, it’s not worth my time to be overly concerned about numbers and all the posturing that goes on between leagues and the presidents of different players’ unions. For the most part it’s all politics and eventually the two sides will sit down, realize they would be retarded to halt play, and work out some sort of deal where both sides give a little.
The current situation with the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement is the one time I’ve taken the initiative to learn more. For now, I can only hope that a lockout is not the answer because I really don’t want to have to watch playoff baseball in the fall of 2011, or any other year for that matter. But the situation, as it stands right now, doesn’t look all that great. Go here to learn more about the specifics and what both sides are hoping to get out of the new CBA.
In the first week of the NFL season players have taken it upon themselves to make sure everyone watching games knows how they feel. Prior to last Thursday’s Saints – Vikings matchup the two teams lined up prior to kickoff, walked out on the field a few yards holding up one finger, symbolizing that the players are all “one” in the negotiations. Here’s a video.
Al Michaels summed it up pretty well at the time, saying “there is nothing like a labor statement to start a season.” There have certainly been worse ways to make a labor statement, like violent riots and such. But anyway, moving on.
On the surface some people may question the motive of the players to, in a sense, call out the league in such a public way. People will argue that these players, who make millions of dollars every year, need to shut up, take what they can get and keep playing this kids game. Some would argue that it’s the players and their salaries that have driven up prices for tickets, merchandise and more. Those are all fair points. That being said, they are all wrong. And it’s because of one simple word — risk.
NFL players are the strongest and fastest athletes in the world. When they run into each other, bad things happen. Just look at the collection of season-ending injuries in the first week. At least half a dozen guys are already done. Yes, those guys will still get paid in 2010, but what about in 2011? Or the next five years after that? Will their surgically repaired ACL be able to handle the rigors of playing again? Will they be cleared to return to action after their 10th concussion in 12 years?
Colin Cowherd, a fairly well-known radio show host for ESPN, expressed many of these points following Thursday’s Saints/Vikings showdown. Cowherd takes every opportunity to go against the grain of traditional thought, and this was no different. He argued against unions as a whole and talked about the “remarkable” people in society, like Saints QB Drew Brees. Now I don’t believe that athletes are the only remarkable people in society, but Brees and others like him are the only ones who risk their ability to walk every single week. Cowherd’s argument, or at least what I took from it, was more about going against the grain than whether or not NFL players should be able to make more money.
And now on to Matt Taibbi. Don’t know who he is? Yeah, I didn’t either, until I saw a link on Twitter about someone ripping Colin Cowherd. Here’s the full article. Thanks to The Big Lead for the find, because I would never have visited RollingStone.com’s political blog otherwise. Taibbi basically used Cowherd to make a broader statement about how money-driven society has become and how folks like Cowherd do nothing but make it worse.
But when I heard loudmouth large-nostriled afternoon host Colin Cowherd go off on unions in general on my way out of Lexington, I nearly had an aneurysm. Cowherd actually came out in support of the NFL players — although his reasoning there wasn’t exactly clear to me — but he said that in general, he tended to be “anti-union” because unions apparently don’t encourage elite performance and creativity, and instead just protect the lazy, the weak, the unremarkable.
and one more gem…
In fact it wouldn’t be worth mentioning the views of this half-bright sportscaster at all, except that his underlying point, that the worth of human beings is measured entirely in how much capitalist revenue they generate, is now basically hegemonous in American society – to the point where even ordinary people who decades ago would have been union workers or at least union supporters believe it implicitly.
If he believes that, fine. He’s entitled. But, in my opinion, Cowherd isn’t saying that people who aren’t rich, or trying to be rich, don’t matter. He’s saying that people everywhere should be more willing to lead than follow, more willing to think outside the box than in it. Maybe I’m in the minority here, but isn’t that what all people should be striving for? To be different, extraordinary? I don’t spend my day wanting to be like every other early 20-something male. That’s why folks change their resume once a week. It’s in that never-ending quest to stand out, to be recognized.
Mr. Taibbi, I’m all for your right to say what you want about Colin Cowherd or anyone else. But at least see his argument for what it is, a call to be different and think outside the box. Also, stick to politics. Or go on The Herd, where Colin would eat you for lunch.