MIXED REVIEWS (CONT.)
Ron Mix (So Little Gain for the Pain, Oct. 19) makes a strong case for sympathizing with the NFL players' strike because of the physical and mental abuse the players get from fat-cat management. Instead of using the issues Mix raises as reasons for supporting free agency, however, the union should have made them the basis of the strike. To strike for money rather than for improvements in working conditions sends this message to NFL management: We don't care how you treat us or future players as long as you come up with enough money.
If the players' union wants the public's support in the future, it should focus on these other issues. It is almost impossible for anyone in the regular work force to be sympathetic to claims of fiscal abuse made by a group that is averaging nearly a quarter of a million dollars a year for playing a game.
Ron Mix definitely makes his case for professional football players. However, if he were genuinely concerned about their well-being, he would counsel them against playing for fear of shortening their lives. Mix's hypocrisy shows itself when he focuses on money rather than on the health and safety of the players. No amount of money is worth losing 15 years of life.
I particularly noted Ron Mix's dismissal of the issue of the players having bargained away free agency in the past as "too sad to comment upon." That's an interesting way to attack an important question.
As for his description of striking football players as "real heroes," perhaps he should check the ranks of the factory workers and laborers who bust their tails to make $25,000 a year, raise a family and build a life for themselves. What about the backs, knees, hips and elbows of the people who work eight to 10 hours a day at manual labor? And he's asking these people—who buy the tickets and watch the commercials that help pay the players an average of $230,000 per year—to call the players heroes? Something is backward here.
I would bet that the majority of the players play because they love the game, they love to compete, and it is a heck of a good way to make a living.
Just for comparison's sake, did you know that a New York City firefighter, a man who puts his life on the line every time he reports for work and who must serve for 20 years before he can retire with a pension, earns a whopping $35,912 a year, tops?
If the NFL players had gone on strike for grass turf, a total ban on steroid use, drug-free football, mandatory drug testing—issues that would ensure greater safety and a longer career span for the players—there would have been public support.
New York City
For weeks I'd had trouble articulating to the people in our plant why I, management, was on the players' side in the NFL strike. Our men are all union people, but they were against the players because, they said, "those players are a bunch of spoiled guys earning $250,000 a year." Ron Mix provided exactly the arguments I needed.
The NFL owners, for the most part, perfectly exemplify the century-old management mentality that created the need for unions in the first place. Successful management today knows that employers and employees need to be partners on the same team—not adversaries. Great article.
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