In the haze that follows the Super Bowl there are problems that do more than loom. Until Sunday all four groups, the NFL, The NFL Owners, The Players Union and the Players will be quiet on the question of What Happens Next. And make no mistake, there are these four distinct groups, to lose sight of that is to miss some of the key dynamics that are about to occur. If it were as simple as all factions hate one another, then it would be an easily done thing to solve the problem: After sufficient nastiness, Federal Mediators could be called in and some sort of solution jury rigged. That, however, is the quik 'n durty solution to a problem that has simmered too long to resolved in either a spirit of bonhomie or by legal mandate. And there are two more “interested parties”, fans and sponsors, but the shift to the stupid has already obviated their importance to all concerned for, as the saying goes, “This time it's personal”.
Reduced to it's simplest terms, the players now want 60% of revenues and the owners don't want to give it to them. (All though in another sense, they'd be only too happy to let them have it.) This is also a racial issue though few will agree to that. It's the largely black group of players against white owners. You may recall that in an overwhelming burst of stupidity, alleged Reverend Jesse Jackson said that being paid twenty million dollars by a white owner was a return to slavery. The fault in the logic is easy to spot but the sentiment that underlies it represents a widely held belief and that is that “Whitey” is busting their black ass and paying them slave wages. It's probably just me but...in an industry where it's not possible to be paid less than $250, 000.00 to be on the team, the price of slavery does seem to have gone up. Plus there are, every year, new crops of slaves-in-waiting to sign up for the offered wages. Still, the arguments continue but now they're at the top. No black quarterbacks, now there are black quarterbacks, No black head coaches, now there are black head coaches...the only position unfilled, and it's one of the lesser mentioned points, is that there are no black owners. How to solve that one and, anyway, finding a way to make someone black an owner would be difficult not to mention would only annoy black players who, in floppy logic, would see this as the ultimate in Uncle Tom-ism. Nice, isn't it, to have a situation in which not only does no one win but, it would seem, no one cares about winning-except in the press-so long as “the other group” doesn't win. Puzzling, isn't it.
Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that the worst way a government can reform itself is from within and that's what the NFL et al is now trying to do. Fearing hints at the use of RECO statutes, both sides have to appear to be really working at the problem but at the same time avoid any semblance of collusion that would suggest a monopoly. Which is in and of itself bizarre as they are one of the most flagrant monopolies around. The Federal Government has been for some little while the Buzzard circling, waiting for someone to drop so they might plunge in for the carrion kill. Poll after poll reveals that the public may individual like certain teams or players, they do not like or admire the NFL as either a product or an ethos. That's easily understood. Nothing the NFL does makes the game more accessible to the public unless one considers adding more luxury boxes a plus. The NFL is an equal opportunity opportunist in that they're not out to just soak the rich, they soak everyone. How balanced.
It must be wondered who really stands to lose/gain the most from this upcoming problem and the answer, apart from the public, is all the sides. Part of that is caused by an inherent instability in the rank and file membership in the player's union. Even from year to year they are representing a certain number of different people than they did last year. In the days of rampant unionism, one of the consistencies was that it was the same people fighting the same fights with only variations from contract negotiation to contract negotiation. Rather like your political parties that publicly heaps chagrin from one side to another but, privately, can sometimes accomplish things. That's polite and uses well understood modalities. The upcoming NFL difficulties are a street fight with everyone getting to see how dirty it really is.
At the end it's a game of greed played by some very wealthy persons whose sole motive is to get more, faster. It may be necessary to eviscerate the other side and leave their entrails scattered for the scavengers to consume, but so be it. Our Side-whoever that may be-won. The difficulty here is that unless some realistic, fair structure can be reached, then this is just the first bout on the card and not the main event.