Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Lockout

Yesterday court ruling lifting the NFL lockout might well be the end of the road for the NFL owners' attempt to screw over their players. Ed Valentine persuasively argues this and notes how utterly evil the owners are:

The NFL owners are still in denial, as evidenced by their stubborn refusal to get back to work and stop their appeal of Judge Nelson's decision. But the truth is, it's over. In fact, it's probably true that it was over from the moment when Smith rallied his players, won their confidence, and got them to go along with the gutsy move to decertify the union after months of non-negotiation.

From the beginning the sports media has been quick to note that neither side was willing to compromise, but what Smith did was make it clear to the players that they had no reason to compromise. They were, after all, being asked to give up revenue they had fought hard for as the starting point of any negotiations. The central facts leading to the lockout were not in dispute: the National Football League pulled in more than $9 billion last season, and the owners wanted the players to give back one billion of their share from the first snap. Not because the owners were suffering any economic hardship -- certainly none that they were ready to open up their books to reveal -- but because they wanted the players to pay for new stadiums.

In case you're wondering who has been footing most of the bill for these new stadiums over the years, the answer is: you, or rather, us. For the most part, the NFL, largely by threatening to move franchises to new cities, has always been able to snooker local politicians into forking over the taxpayers' money for new venues -- you know, the ones with the luxury boxes that you can't afford.

After years of preaching the virtues of the free market while profiting on municipal and state money, the public teat, it appears, has run dry. The owners' response was to turn to the NFLPA and say, in effect, we need some new suckers to foot our bills.

The players' reaction, expressed through DeMaurice Smith, was "Does Ford demand that autoworkers pay for the cost of new factories?"

Far less valuable, as per normal, is Gregg Easterbrook, who takes the classic "sure the owners are bad but the players are super greedy and although I claim to be a liberal I have no problem busting an athlete union" line.