Sunday, July 31, 2011

NFL Players’ "Remarkable" Labor Victory

From Democracy Now, Amy Goodman interviews leftist sports writer Dave Zirin:

Troy Polamalu, All-Pro for the Pittsburgh Steelers, he said, "I think what the players are fighting for is something bigger. The fact is it’s people fighting against big business. The big business argument is 'I got the money and I got the power, and therefore I can tell you what to do.' That’s life everywhere. I think this is a time when the football players are standing up and saying, 'No, no, no, the people have the power.'" I mean, this is a guy who is best known for doing Head & Shoulders commercials, and now he sounds like Big Bill Haywood.

Click here to watch, read, or listen to the rest.

So like lots of other Americans, I'm glad the strike is over. As you know, I'm a much bigger fan of college ball, but, you know, the Saints are infectious when you live in the New Orleans area. And they've got something the Oilers and the Texans never had, a Super Bowl victory. But I also really like that the strike happened at all.

It gave the NFL fans who read the sports pages regularly a great lesson in the economics of labor, and if these fans understood what they were reading, they ought to also walk away with a new understanding of the power that regular ordinary work-a-day guys have when they stick together. The power to bring a mighty corporation to its knees.

Yeah, pro football is glamorous, and the players are extraordinarily skilled, but the basics for their strike are the same for workers in all fields. That is, like Polamalu says, big business has money and power which they think allows them to dictate terms. And usually, almost always in fact, they get away with it, at least here in the US because nobody knows how to challenge them anymore. Until now, that is. I mean, among those above mentioned guys who read the sports pages. All they have to do is understand that their lot in life isn't too terribly different from the guys in the NFL: they work for very wealthy people who think they have the power to tell them how they're going to work, how much they will earn, and the conditions of the workplace; if workers stick together, however, a lot of that power simply evaporates, once the wealthy elites realize that their wealth absolutely depends on the people who actually do the work.

It's that simple. And as American as the NFL.

Okay, are you ready for some football?