Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Turn off ESPN

I think we should all have a national turn off ESPN day.  I’m not even kidding.  I realise that I’m anti-ESPN lately just because of their lack of hockey coverage.  The GM meetings are going on right now and there is hardly a peep about it on SportsCenter, I mean, come on!  But barring that, something that bothers me more is really linked to ESPN.  I realise they are the messengers, but in this instance, I think they’re making a bad situation worse with too much press coverage.

The NFLPA has requested that all college students planning on attending the draft this April should boycott and not attend.  At first I didn’t think much of it, with no season in the works, it’s unlikely that those players selected will actually suit up and play.  But, I was listening to a radio talk show this morning, Elliot in the Morning, and he said something that hadn’t full sunk in for me, this is ‘their moment,’ the one they’ve been working for all their lives.  And for some no-name organisation to stand up and say, ‘you shouldn’t go to this,’ doesn’t seem fair or right.

Yes, the choice was theirs to give up their lives to this industry, there is no arguing that.  But to tell someone that they shouldn’t attend something with an organisation they want to be a part of seems a bit too much to me.  I think of it this way, you’re a kid, you grow up wanting to be a super-star.  You give up everything for this one dream.  When you finally reach the pinnacle, your moment in the sun, a situation that has nothing to do with you comes to the forefront.  Everything you’ve worked for, that moment in the sun, is gone.

This to me is the one of the great travesties of this situation.  No one, I mean no one, is winning.  The owners have set money aside for a rainy day (ie next season), the players haven’t.  The players have to work for the owners to make their millions, but the owners want more of that share.  The kids who haven’t been drafted are the ones that are really going to suffer.

I agree that rookies do get paid too much, but that has been, for decades, a right of passage.   That isn’t to say that things that have held in the past should just continue.  But to change the rules of the game so suddenly does make things difficult for all involved.  I could digress here, but I won’t.

The fact of the matter is the NFLPA and the owners are really pitting the new rookies into a corner.  No matter what decision they make, the repercussions will be immediate.  If a player chooses to attend the event, then he is spurning the NFLPA, who will be the one to ultimately protect him going forward.  If the player boycotts, the owners will remember that and perhaps pony up less cash to have them play on their team.  Either way, it’s a losing situation.

Beyond that, there is a more subtle commentary on the American culture.  The largest, most popular sports channel, ESPN, has been covering this news very, very closely, almost to the point of overkill, making things worse instead of better.  I’m sure we’d all like to admit that they are just doing their job reporting on the news, but I think there may be more to it.  This sensationalisation of this situation is really making it hard for kids to make the right choices and for the American public to move on.

Yes, we may not have NFL to watch this Fall, but is it really noteworthy that a bunch of rich white men can’t get along or give a fair share of the pot to the people putting their lives on the line.  I understand that the owners have taken the financial risk, but the players take a physical risk that lasts a lifetime.  I don’t see anyway to really solve this issue.

I feel so furious with the NFL, both owners and players, right now: its nine billion dollars.  You can’t find a way to cut up nine billion dollars and make everyone happy?  They’re like children.  That’s what this really is, take my toys and play in another sandbox.  And do you know what makes it worse: all of us watching it.  I think we all need to take a step back and stop paying attention to this.  With the economy in the crapper, disaster around every corner, the NFL is just looking like a spoiled little rich kid and I’m not having any of it anymore.  I’ll stick to hockey, baseball and basketball if I need a fix.  I wonder if it wouldn’t be worthwhile for me to cancel my NFL ticket too.

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