• =?utf-8?Q?NFL_lockout_is_not_about_the_pla?==?utf-8?Q?yers=E2=80=94it's_about_hiding_the_books?==?utf-8?Q?_from_the_public?=

    From thinktank@VERT to DOVE-Net.Sports on Wed Mar 16 23:01:23 2011
    NFL lockout is not about the players—it's about hiding the books from the public
    by Gaius Publius on 3/16/2011 09:44:00 PM

    According to Dave Zirin, sports reporter for The Nation magazine, the real reason for the current NFL labor dispute isn't because the players want to break the bank of the owners. It's that if the owners are pleading poverty, the unions want an audit of the books going back 10 years.

    And in the following interview, Zirin talks about what an audit might turn
    up. Hmm. All of a sudden it's not just a sports story, but a billionaires story, and perhaps a familiar one.

    As Zirin says, A lot of observers fear that "lurking inside these closed
    books is the kind of financial malfeasance which would be a black-eye on the game that's more extreme than losing [not playing] games this fall."

    Listen; the interviewer is Sam Seder, host of the new Majority Report
    podcast: http://www.americablog.com/2011/03/nfl-lockout-is-not-about-playersits.html (link to interview can be found there)

    If you're a sports fan, this is a great interview. A couple of notes:

    ▪ If the players are pampered millionaires, what are the owners, who write their checks? As Zirin says, every football franchise is a billion dollar business right now.

    ▪ Are the owners invisible because they aren't (ahem) dark enough to be seen against a pale background?

    ▪ Keep those numbers in mind, from early in the discussion: The typical player lasts 3.4 years, comes from a poor (and I would add, under-educated) background, and dies 22 years before the average American male.

    ▪ What the owners want, according to Zirin — 18% wage cuts, and a longer season, despite all the revenue pouring in.

    ▪ What the players want — Great; open the books. Oops, impasse city. Start listening at 2:05 (and again at 8:30) to hear why the owners may not want to do that.

    ▪ Zirin's point (at 4:05) that the players are both the labor and the product, both the chef and the steak being served, is striking. I've never seen that said before, and I think he's right. Note that the steak is consumed.

    Sports ownership is Billionaires-at-Play; and at play they act the same as
    the billionaires we're used to politically. Very Koch-ish, to coin a phrase.

    They never change, no matter where you find them. They set up special deals where only they can win (in football it's immunity from unfair labor prosecution plus a semi-forced-servitude employment system); they work the system to pocket bushels of public money (municipality-financed stadium
    deals where only they get the profits from the luxury boxes); they bully or buy everyone around them; and yet they whine when they lose even slightly, after winning big for a generation.

    They think they're God's gift, because they think their money is God's gift, God's mark on them for their goodness.

    There's actually a history to that idea, by the way — it goes back to the way Calvinism, broadly considered, coughed up the doctrine of Predestination as a reaction to the breakup of Medieval religious certainty in the face of Renaissance science (think Galileo and his friends, and the way science
    shook the foundations).

    The key book on this is Erich Fromm's classic Escape from Freedom, a work on why the Germans chose Hitler. It's a bit of a longer discussion (maybe the subject of a Weekend Thoughts piece). But the short form is the widespread creation of the Western sado-masochistic personality ("I love the mean
    strong daddy above me; I hate the quivering little people below me"). You
    know the type, a masochist when looking up, a sadist when looking down.
    Sound familiar?

    In the modern sports version of that drama, our Billionaires are Daddy for
    all the little couch fans who love them. And the players and their ilk, just undeserving smalls who need some "reining in," preferably Texas-style.



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