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Teachers and The NFL: The Absurd Contrast of Two Labor Negotiations

Wisconsin teachers and NFL players do not ordinarily lend themselves to comparison but these are strange times we live in.  As circumstance would have it, both of these groups are at the forefront of the news here in America. One group, our teachers is at the center of the story circle in Wisconsin with clear national implications. The other group, the NFL, is in the beginning stages of canceling the 2011 season – also potential huge ramifications. As I step back and look and take measurement, it is hard not to say we’ve all lost our minds.

At the center of both of these conversations is a question of labor, labor rights, and the labor movement. We’ll see how this plays out over the coming weeks and months, but I’m having a hard time finding sympathy for NFL players, while on the other hand I’m having a very hard time understanding the position of Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin. Somehow we are asked to believe that teachers are “the bad guys”and that the government of Wisconsin is really interested in balancing the budget rather than breaking the union.  In comparision, the NFL Players Association is making the case that it is only due to the owners that the players have been locked out.

The truth is, it might be as simple as the state of Wisconsin really cannot afford to pay teachers the way the currently do, and the NFL owners really are not paying the NFL players enough money.  But that seems to matter less to me (assuming it is even true).  My sympathy lies with the teachers, but with the NFL I am having a hard time understanding any of it.  In fact if the league is not careful (both owners and players) it is going to alienate me to the point that I do not come back.

I debated a few different angles with this article but ultimately I felt that simply by putting both teachers and the NFL next to one another was probably the strongest case I could make for my own position and the absurdity of it all.  I’m not saying teachers are perfect, or that they have the right mix in terms of how the profession rewards performance.  I’m not even saying the labor movement makes much sense (I’m still on the fence although it does appear big business is very far removed from the workforce). On the other hand I do know that the NFL has it right – they are the most popular sports league in the richest nation in the world – they are making money hand over fist with :30 seconds spots during the Super Bowl selling for millions, and somehow the idea that there will not be a season next year because people do not earn enough money feels wrong to me.

Perhaps it has to do with the economy and how poorly both our government and so many individuals have jeopardized our nation’s future with misplaced priorities, including the idea that perhaps there is even a remote bit of logic to paying people millions of dollars to play football while the starting salary of a teacher in Wisconsin is $25,000 per year.  Then again, perhaps I might feel this way no matter how the economy was performing…


David Gadarian

Founder of MostMost

Posted on Friday, March 18th, 2011 Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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