|Easily the worst comparison I've ever made!|
Remember when you were listening to one of my crappy podcasts? You know, when you were sitting around your house; bored, nothing to do, lonely, desperate, probably kinda sad. Yeah, now you remember! Remember how, when Prince would bring up Lebron and say something good about him, I would go insane and just start yelling and ranting for no apparent reason? Remember how I just do this for no reason on every podcast because I'm a crazy person? OK, good, now you get the idea of what this post is going to be like (also very similar to trying to take social security away from a 65 year old bi-polar redhead. Who has a drinking problem. And smokes. And plays the lottery.).
Believe me, I've tried to prevent myself from writing an angry post about this topic before. I've mentioned it briefly in a few podcasts before moving on to less morbid conversations, but, considering it's the single biggest thing in sports right now, I guess I have to stop running from it. And so, here I am today, staring the NFL Lockout square in its ugly face, praying that it does not suck my soul straight out of my body. In fact, that gives me an idea. From here on out, I am referring to the Lockout as "The Dementors." For anybody who's been in hibernation for the last 10 years, The Dementors are a type of malevolent, magical being in Harry Potter. They are exceedingly hideous looking and they literally do suck your soul out. Call me whatever name you want! It's a perfect comparison! You know it! I'm not a dork! I'm cool!!! Hold on a second, I have to go play some World of Warcraft. And then I'll write in my diary. (Before you even say it, this blog is not a diary!!!)
There are two major reasons why I've wanted to avoid discussing The Dementors (remember, I'm talking about the Lockout). One, it seriously does depress me. The idea that a sport I love may very well miss significant time, including the entire season, is honestly and truly a horrifying thought. I'm certain I'd feel infinitely better about the situation if the reasons for the current standoff were legitimate, but The Dementors is completely unnecessary given the current state of the NFL. If you're a listener of the podcast (and you really should be!!!) then you know exactly how I feel about the situation. And really, that's the second reason I've wanted to avoid this. You already know how I and every single sports writer in the United States feels about the situation! What could I possibly put on this blog that you haven't heard anywhere else? In case you haven't heard, I'm all for the players on the situation. I think the owners are completely unrealistic, the players deserve their just compensation, an 18 game schedule is both dangerous to the players and bad for the game, the rookie wage scale would be great, and the owners are greedy piles of garbage. Did I mention I hate the owners?
Now that we have that out of the way, I can get to the real point of what I want to say. And, just as a heads up, this is the part where I'm going to start getting angry. As you know, I've been following Facebook and Twitter very closely since I started this blog. While I'm always fascinated by what the "experts" have to say about things, I'm equally as fascinated with what the average fan has to say. Most of the time, these fans seem to be at least somewhat in touch with what is actually going on. This is especially important as it relates to The Dementors because fan response and support for one side or the other will, at some point, become important. Don't believe me? I will kindly refer you to baseball where, despite what the truth actually was, fan support quickly eroded as the labor dispute dragged on, causing irreparable harm over the next decade of the sport. And so, it was with great horror that I read a couple Facebook posts relating to both Peyton Manning's contract situation and The Dementors.
The gist of the comments was this; Peyton Manning is a greedy piece of crap because of all the money he is going to get paid and the players are big babies for making demands of the owners and they suck for causing the lockout. ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?!? This person could have drop kicked a puppy into a vat of boiling oil and I wouldn't have been as angry! The unfortunate truth of the matter is many fans, both casual and hardcore, actually subscribe to the idea that professional athletes are all whiny babies because they make a lot of money. Some take this a step further when they declare that pros don't play hard and don't care about winning because all they care about it the huge amounts of money they make. Let me tell you something, there is no other idea in all of sports that makes me as angry as this idea. Why? BECAUSE IT'S A PILE OF GARBAGE!!! I wish I wouldn't get so worked up over dumb Facebook comments, but I'm very passionate about sports. Are there things about sports that are dumb? Yes. Are there things that could be changed to make sports better? Sure. However, there is a lot that is right about sports and I feel it's important, especially with the current labor dispute, for all fans to be properly educated about these myths that are propogated and endorsed by ignorant fans and media. We better slow down and take this one point at a time because I'm a bit too angry to be cohesive.
Dumb Myth #1 - Professional athletes are all a bunch of whiny babies
I always did love this one because of how absurd it really is. Let me rephrase the question, tweaking just a few words, and you tell me how stupid the statement is. "All black people like watermelon and ribs." Now how does this statement sound? All of a sudden, this is a stupid statement. In fact, you might even say it's fairly racist! Of course, most people wouldn't be dumb enough to say something like that, but for some reason, it's alright to lump all professional athletes together under this one umbrella. Sure, there are some bad apples in the group. TO and Ochocinco do their fair share of talking, but I'm sure you probably know a few people who are pretty annoying too! Of course, if you're basing this opinion off of salary then you should probably keep reading...
Dumb Myth #2 - Professional athletes are a bunch of criminals
This one is even dumber and more ignorant than the first! Instead of saying something not terribly hateful like "all black people like watermelon and ribs," you're upping your racism to say "all black people are thugs and murderers." You stay classy sports fans. I suppose this stupid opinion is formed from high profile cases such as the O.J. Simpson murder trial and the entire Cincinnati Bengals roster. Of course, we all know the wisdom of making a huge blanket statement as a result of a couple isolated events. That always ends well. Perhaps a little research is in order before calling the Eagles backup punter a serial killer? According to a San Diego Union-Tribune study, since 2000 an average of 1 in 45 NFL players a year get arrested. Not quite as high as you thought right? Compare that to a ratio of 1 in every 23 non NFL players arrested and you probably should start feeling really stupid. By the way, those arrest numbers are directly from the FBI, so you know it's good! (A little Anchorman humor to go with a report from San Diego!) Going further, the drunken driving rate in the NFL is 1 in 144 compared to 1 in 135 for non NFL. These numbers hold true for both MLB and the NBA. To recap, professional athletes, as a whole, have significantly lower crime rates than the everyday population. Interesting...
Dumb Myth #3 - Professional athletes don't play hard
YOU'RE AN IDIOT!!!!!!!!!!!!! WATCH THE GAMES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Dumb Myth #4 - Professional athletes are greedy and overpaid
This is the myth that I hear most often. I guess I can somewhat understand the viewpoint when you consider that people are actually getting paid tens of millions of dollars to play a sport. If that's as far as you've thought on the matter then it's an easy conclusion to come to. Of course, it's dead wrong. Economically speaking, in a capitalist society, these athletes deserve the money they make. Every penny. While I don't intend this to be a societal criticism piece, I do feel the need to point this out. I honestly believe that people choose to believe the greedy athlete theory because they are not satisified with their lot in life and they are filled with jealousy at the amazing situation we perceive professional athletes to be in. This may not be true for all people, but consider how this feeling manifests itself in other areas. During every election cycle we hear the constant cry to tax the rich, tax big business, and take away any breaks they may have. Government funding for certain programs increases and those with wealth are expected to carry the brunt of the cost. Now, again, I'm not making any political statements here. I don't care who you vote for or what platform you want to stand on. I'm just commenting on the natural inclination of humans to be envious of those in "better situations." What clearer example is there of that then professional sports? But, again, they deserve their money!
In a capitalist society, you are worth whatever the market bears for you. Many factors determine this value, but the key factors are always supply and demand. Consider this. I work in Human Resources. I'm in my first year so I'm not making a killing or anything, but I make enough to support my family and fund my Amp and Five Guys addictions. I work for a large company and do a decent amount of important paperwork, so I could make the argument I should be better compensated for the importance of my work. Now, imagine I go into my boss' office and explain this to her. I passionately tell her how important I am and I demand a significant raise to properly compensate me for how important I am to the company. What do you think is going to happen? I'm going home with my things and they will have me replaced in 2 weeks with someone who can do exactly what I can do. Was I good at my job? Yes. Did I serve an important function? Yes. Am I completely and utterly expendable. Absolutely. That's the problem with comparing your situation to a professional athletes.You may think your job is important, and maybe it is! However, there's thousands of people out there who can do your job just as well as you can! Now, let's compare this. Peyton Manning demands a raise and his employer decides he doesn't want to pay and he decides to replace him. Who are they replacing him with? (Hint: nobody) There is an extremely small percentage of people who are good enough to play professional sports and there is an even smaller number who are in the elite level. Based on the supply of players and the overwhelming demand (which, by the way, is driven by the same people who rip them for being overpaid), they are easily worth their price.
Consider this as well. 2010 NFL league revenues were somewhere in the neighborhood of $7.8 billion last year. That's a pretty solid chunk of change. Each individual franchise is worth an average of around $1 billion per team. Again, pretty decent amount of money. So, please, drop me an email when you are a key part of generating billions of dollars...
One last thing on this one. It's kind of a myth within a myth. Or is it a myth within a myth...within another myth? My head hurts. Anyways, the idea that professional athletes have easy lives is stupid too. They get compensated so well partly because they literally don't have a life for most of the year. Think about it this way. What if your job required you to travel across the country for 6 months out of the year, live out of hotels most of the time, miss precious time with your friends and family, work day and night nearly year round, and risk major injury every time you went to work. Are you liking that job? Are you wanting a major pay raise? I thought so.
This brings me full circle, back to The Dementors. I don't know how long this thing will drag out. Hopefully, it gets resolved soon and we can go back to eagerly anticipating the 2011 NFL season. Sadly, it may not. As The Dementors drags on, it's going to suck in more and more opinions and my fear is that these myths will color the opinions of those fans who have not taken the time to educate themselves on the situation. The likely scenario is that, even if games are missed, the fans will be back in droves. The NFL is at its apex of popularity and even a year long labor dispute likely won't kill that. However, baseball also thought they were indestructible at one point. That worked out well. Please, as sports fan, take the time to educate yourselves about what is going on. I'm not telling you how to feel about it, I'm not telling you what opinions to have. You know where I stand and you know why I stand there. If you want to side with the owners, then fine! Just make sure that whatever conclusions you come to, you aren't using ignorant, faulty logic like the above myths. Now, I must go and calm myself down...WHERE'S MY FREAKING AMP?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!
FYI: We are going to do a Boris Diaw Time sponsored ESPN Bracket Challenge. I'm figuring out the prize, but I'm thinking it will be a gift card to either Buffalo Wild Wings or Papa John's. I'll get the Bracket Challenge up and then post the link. Also, you can get BDT updates by following us on Twitter @borisdiawtime.