Ron Mix's clear and eloquent arguments on behalf of the professional football player (So Little Gain for the Pain, Oct. 19) should strike a sympathetic chord in anyone who works hard for a living. I am a symphony musician and a union member with an annual salary of less than $10,000. Orchestra administrators, like NFL team owners, are well aware of the overabundance of talent flowing annually from our colleges and universities—excellent performers desperate for a chance to play. Too often they seem more protective of the bottom line than of the people whose sweat they transform into gold.
Certainly, entrepreneurs are entitled to profit from their ventures. And certainly in our society athletes are revered disproportionately. But they're also entitled to their slice of the corporate pie. Because the NFL pie is large and rich does not abrogate the obligation of the owners to share the feast.
The NFL Players Association strike was doomed to fail because the owners had no incentive to negotiate. Perhaps the courts will act to rectify this inequity, but in the meantime working people everywhere, whether they empathize with the players or not, are affected by the strike's failure. That failure, however, in no way diminishes the integrity of the arguments put forth so incisively in your article.
Thank goodness the NFL strike is over. Not because I've missed seeing each week's exhilarating play. Rather, I'm tired of seeing story after story about how tough it is for NFL players—the latest of them being Ron Mix's.
Granted, injury rates are high, but I don't recall ever hearing about a player being forced to sign a contract with a gun at his head. There is no way to justify a full-retirement plan based on an average of 3� years of employment. If the players can't stand the heat, they should get out of the kitchen. Let them get a real job at $25,000 (or less) per year coming out of college. But, please, no more articles telling us how tough they've got it.
William Taaffe is correct (It's Bottom Line Time, Oct. 12) that management economies at ABC, CBS and NBC have forced many changes in operating practices at the networks. The networks' formerly bloated budgets have been trimmed although they remain at a level considerably above that of the real—and growing—competition: cable TV.
It is interesting to note that many of the network productions being farmed out to independent producers have gone to regional sports cable networks or national cable systems such-as ESPN, USA and FNN/SCORE. And they are being handled there by many of those high-priced, supposedly expendable former network production executives who have hooked on with one of these hustling young outfits. The work seems to be following the executives, and it may not be long before the audience follows them to cable TV, too.
DAVID A. KLATELL
Institute in Broadcast Sports
I read with interest E.M. Swift's essay on the NHL's attempt to curb violence (POINT AFTER, Oct. 12). I played Division I hockey at St. Lawrence University and have also refereed at that level, so I am familiar with the game. I am fairly convinced that the powers that be in the NHL do not consider violence a serious problem.
The league's new rules calling for player suspensions appear to be an attempt to curb violence, but I submit that penalizing the player and not the team will have little effect. While the suspended player is sitting out games, his place on the roster will be taken by a young, enthusiastic minor league player, glad to have a chance to show his talents. Over a short period, the minor leaguer probably will perform as well as the player he is replacing.
I propose that teams be prevented from replacing suspended players on their rosters. This would put pressure on the rest of the team and, particularly, the coach, who is the real person in control of violence. Given the length of the NHL season, playing with a reduced roster would take its toll—and most likely bring a change of philosophy.
WILLIAM H. PLIMPTON