One of the most distressing political and intellectual aspects of the pro football strike was the media coverage and the fan acquiescence in the media distortions. Instead of viewing the strike as a struggle between wage earners at high risk and owners with power, somehow the fan was persuaded that the players are the millionaires with easy lives and the fans are the victims who should ally themselves with the owners' interest in a quick settlement on their terms. This artificially created atmosphere of antiplayer sentiment is simply without a justifiable or persuasive foundation.
If the owners were ever to lose money on their ownership, they would be able to write it off on their taxes. But that is not as important as the fact that they are unique in a capitalist society by providing no capital; they furnish neither a plant nor raw materials nor a system of distribution. Even worse, the taxpayers usually provide the stadiums that permit them to have profits, with no direct return to the city and taxpayers. In fact, the owners have made enormous profits, which is why they keep the books closed, and any loss of income that an owner might realize in a year is more than offset by the profit found in selling the franchises, whose value has gone up as fast, if not faster, than that of real estate.
The players were characterized as transient and the owners as permanent fixtures of the game by some. But people in Washington, Baltimore, Seattle, Milwaukee and other cities have memories of just how impermanent some owners can be.
Perhaps the most hypocritical people in the world of entertainment are the big-city sports announcers. For a few minutes an evening they read from teleprompters and are paid very large salaries. They seem to have no problem with receiving such sums.
Instead, they say such things as football players are college graduates, with good career prospects, so they should have no complaints about a short football career. But football players are often not graduates, or their educations are a sham, with dead-end lives as a consequence. The right question is: What jobs and salaries do ex-football players receive? Much less than retired announcers after their long careers, I'd guess.
-- Jonathan A. Weiss