While lockouts loom in the NBA and NFL, across the globe uprisings are occurring in Tunisia and Egypt. These events may seem unrelated, but 2011 is beginning to look like it could be a year filled with people standing up for themselves, and getting what they deserve.
Thanks to a strong union, NFL and NBA players will have no problem organizing a strike. This will affect the bottom line of the owners, and will likely help get both sides closer to reaching an agreement. For most of us, the disagreements between owners and players would be inconsequential if it did not lead to part of a season being lost.
This is what happens when billionaires and millionaires fight. They stay the same, and the rest of us lose. Owners will probably justify raised prices, with claims that they are the result of the new deal with the player’s unions. We will see our favorite players vilified for not playing, and lose part of our favorite team’s season.
Even though Tunisia and Egypt may seem unrelated to professional athletes striking, maybe we can gain some inspiration from the grass roots organization going on in those countries. If fans collectively organized on social networking sites, they could organize boycotts of sporting events until prices became more reasonable.
What if NCAA football players organized online to strike until they were paid? The schools would have no choice but to pay them. At many football powerhouses, alumni would be willing to flip the bill of paying football players before a snap was even missed.
Additional funding for the players can come from the major corporations that sponsor bowl games. Division I NCAA football schools collected profits in excess of $1 billion last year; certainly they can spare something.
Of course, this undercuts the idea of amateur athletes competing in college. The students who do not go professional carry the physical burden of entertaining the fans for the rest of their life. The scholarship is great, but why not give the players some money to enable them when they graduate?
Make the payment contingent on the players graduating. Have illegal hits result in deductions that are contributed to funds for former players disabled from playing. A friend of mine’s father played football at an SEC and Big Ten school. His shoulders are so bad now, he cannot reach things on shelves higher than his shoulder.
He took advantage of his free college, and did good things with it. If players were forced to take classes on managing money, they would stand to benefit greatly. According to a recent study, 80 percent of NFL players end up bankrupt. As crazy as it sounds, professional athletes are not the only ones going bankrupt.
For the majority of Division I football players who are going professional in something else, why not teach them a thing or two about managing their funds?
When professional athletes go bankrupt, owners benefit. Since everything seems to end up in the billionaire’s hands eventually, some of these blown fortunes probably trickle up. Even though Fords are lame, the Ford family has surely made millions of dollars in sales to professional athletes.
Maybe a NCAA wide strike is unreasonable, but what would happen if next year the teams playing in the National Championship refused to play unless they received payments. You better believe that somebody would pony up.
They would be an inspiration to other bowl teams and imitation would follow. Suddenly players would be refusing to partake in spring practices. Sometimes reforms are gradual, but as we are seeing in Egypt and Tunisia, sweeping change can occur rapidly.
Of course, change is not necessarily for the better, but as Simon and Garfunkel so perfectly put it, “After changes upon changes we are more or less the same, after changes we are more or less the same.”
If we are not afraid of reform, we can correct the archaic NCAA. Players deserve to be paid, and based on the flawed way the system is set up, many are already being paid.
Then we can have playoffs, everyone will be friends, and there will be world peace, but Rex Ryan will never lower his caloric intake enough for world hunger to end.
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