Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What's wrong with a potential NFL lockout?

According to the organization American Rights at Work, plenty.  I received the following in an email today from this organization:

"The NFL is preparing a 'lock out' next season unless football players agree to its demands.
If there's no football season, it would impact 150,000 jobs – and cause more than $140 million in lost revenue – in each and every city with an NFL team.
Local economies will be devastated. All because of the NFL's greed.
It's easy to see how crushing a lockout would be... Picture a 60,000-seat football stadium... EMPTY. Now picture all the bars, restaurants, hotels, t-shirt shops, hot dog carts surrounding the stadium... CLOSED. And all of the stadium's janitors, vendors, and support staff... OUT OF WORK.
But the NFL and team owners don't care, because they'll still make billions. They've already signed TV contracts that will pay out even if the season is canceled.
The NFL owners' greed is unbelievable. In ditching an agreement that was working just fine, the owners actually want players to make absurd, unjustified concessions around wages and benefits – like taking away ALL healthcare benefits from players and their families.
It's only fair that NFL owners pick up the tab for these health costs when players risk their lives for the game. An average football player's career lasts only three and a half seasons – but the injuries they face on the job aren't short-lived at all. Tackles, hits, and blocks result in intense physical trauma, impacting players' health, well-being, and medical expenses far into retirement."
One area of disagreement I have with this is that the greed of the players is not addressed. Surely it isn't only the greed of the owners in play here?  However, it does seem to me that one of the wrong-making properties of a lockout is the negative economic impact in each city with an NFL team. And it does seem that healthcare benefits are obligatory, given that most players don't have long careers, with some not adequately prepared for life after football (for more on this, see Racing the Sunset, by Scott Tinley).  Even though one might argue that the players make more than enough money to cover health care expenses, I still think that healthcare benefits should be offered by the owners, perhaps as a matter of principle.

Moreover, I believe that the wealthy, which includes the owners and players, have an obligation to those whose livelihood depends on the season happening.  Whatever responsibilities there are for promoting the common good, it arguably includes avoiding a lockout, in part because of the negative impact of this on the lives of other human beings.

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