Dave Zirin on the NFL Labor Resolution

July 28, 2011 § 23 Comments

Zirin analyses the end of the NFL lockout, calling it a victory for players.  Also, an interview with Amy Goodman.

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§ 23 Responses to Dave Zirin on the NFL Labor Resolution

  • lauracava says:

    I have to agree that it was unfair for them to do this to the fans since most of the stadiums are financially funded by the public. They should have come up with something to take of the situation in a better way or compensated for it by doing something for the fans. I don’t know how much I agree with the pay increase for the retirees though. They have already made such a large amount when they were playing, I don’t see how they would need an increase in their pay. I do understand taking care of the players bodies from all the wear and tear from playing, but I think they already make enough money as it is. They should put that money towards taking care of the fans and doing more things to reward the fans. Taking care of the players and trying to keep them healthier is important, but they don’t need such a large pay increase if one at all.

  • Mai Quynh Ta says:

    This victory really proved that “the people have the power” and that “There is power in labor and there is power in solidarity”. Without the support of NFL fans, there might not have this agreement. Although the players play an important role on this agreement but in my opinion, the fans is the key element. As Zirin also mentioned, “Thirty-one of the 32 NFL stadiums have received direct public subsidies. Ten of those have been publicly financed and at least 19 are 75% publicly financed.” With the pressure from both the players and the fans, the NFL bosses are gripped like turkey meat in a sandwich. Therefore to prevent being eaten up, they have to compromise.

    I think that this is a great example for workers to do protest. If they can be sided by their customers, they might meet their expectancy. This also points out that to do a protest, a unity of one group, such as player only, would not work but a support of other group(s) might turn the table. As a result, employers should be careful and treat their employees reasonably.

  • jeromiharris says:

    As much as I like to watch football and I happen to be a fan of the sport, I did not care too much about the lockout. To me it was your basic the richer trying to get richer story. Even in Dave Zirin article he mentions how not only do the players get a pay increase, but the owner as well continue to make money. Additionally, when people kept rumoring that there may not be a 2011-2012 season, I would argue the NFL is too big of a business entity to “close up shop.” Now I did not have numbers like Zirin does, but I thought logically it made sense. If you closed the NFL, so many other businesses and people lose money. It is like the NFL was the stock market and if it did not have a season the businesses and people that depend on it would be like the stockholders in 1929 when the stock market crashed. I this is not the last we hear about the lockout, not just in football, but all sports. I say this because it comes down to the reasoning of being selfish. Why should professional football players receive more money? There are other professional, college, and even high school athletes who sacrifice their bodies just like footballers yet are either paid less or not at all. Or even the fact that there are other professions where people sacrifice their lives largely than that of footballers. This lockout to me is just foolish nonsense.

  • Tinamarie Rintye says:

    I agree with Dave Zirin that this is a victory for labor against the big bosses and that everyone can get a satisfactorily agreement out of it. It seem to me thought were celebrating a very little victory in the overall labor issues. The union came through for the players getting them better benefits and health programs which should be a right to any one that gets a beating at work for sixteen straight weeks out of the year plus how every long training camp last. We should celebrate labor unions for they got us are five day work week and pensions, but this victory just illustrate that the rich get richer. A benchwarmer gets $600,000 a years to just show up at practice and games, It not that I disagree with being rewarded for hard work. I just dislike the idea of huge paychecks for a career that really doesn’t produce anything for our economy and betterment of society, and is less dangerous than police and military jobs. Also any fan of the NFL knew that the 2011-2012 seasons would have eventually gotten started for there to much money to be made from football and they certainly wouldn’t like the NCAA Football gaining popular while their trying to negotiate labor disputes. At least those college players still have their hearts in the game. This lock out was quite foolish and petty. If this was a victory for state workers gaining back benefits lost recently or Wal-Mart finally agrees to accept a union then I would even be dancing in the streets! Really what should be taking from the article is the people still have the power to do great things when they work together to fight a greater power.

  • Lan Nguyen says:

    Before the interview with Dave Zirin, Amy Goodman has shown us an excerpt from a documentary film “Not just a game” together with many other books arguing for the players. It hit the audience as appeal to pity in order to trigger the compassion toward the NFL players.
    The interview and the article mentioned good points in the argument for the players:
    – This is not victory for only NFL players since never have there been a labor battle on that many social media platform, full-scaled on 27 coverage. Dave said this battle has a social political victory. The article said :” I didn’t count on the way many fans, upset at the lockout and well-educated on the after-effects of the brutality of the sport, would side with the players.” The NFL players bind together and have support from the public media and fans.
    – The NFL players have more health benefits. That is critical because like Dave said, the notice about concussion in football locker rooms just started last year. And with all the physical confrontation in the game, it is as high such a correlation between football and concussion as that between smoking cigarette and lung cancer. The health information has been hid from the players for so many years that they have had to suffer from it without a proper health package at retirement.
    – Football industry has mass public subsidies however the NFL owners claimed it is not enough according to the last financial statement asserting that 23 of the 30 teams lost money. Nonetheless, it is in dispute that the statements are inflated, and “cooked” before being published. The main reason is because the public subsidy and tax refund are less due to the crisis in 2008 and the public bank bailout. Dave said it is not good that just because the Goldman Sachs needs to bailout, the NFL will lock out the game. I disagree with him on this since that argument is actually valid. NFL is a business and they need money to run it. If they cannot get any public subsidy as well as are not allowed to gain money back from other sources such as players’ salaries, they will run out of business. The games will definitely be stopped.

  • smb366 says:

    Obviously I have heard about the lockout at the NFL however I really have not cared about it and really had no idea what it really entailed. From reading the article by Dave Zirin and watching the interview with him and Amy Goodman, from my inference it seems like the owners of football teams want their costs less and have more revenue from their teams and players, ultimately asking their players to do much more work. I could be totally wrong in this statement, because in no way am I a football fan or have much knowledge about this argument.
    I did think it was interesting how Dave Zirin discussed the idea of football players being able to be a part of the NFL health insurance for life. Does this ring true even if you only play in the NFL for a year or two, get hurt and then have to retire? I come into this argument already having a bias because I do not personally feel that any sort of professional athlete deserves to get paid millions of dollars. I find this whole argument between team owners and players to be one about money. I keep asking this question, if a professional football player was not paid, would they play? When did it become more important about the money and health plan benefits instead of the love of the game? Would an 18 game season be that more drastically different than a 16 game season? Please, I would love to have an answer to this because I do not see the difference. I find it funny how Dave Zirin talks about how this is a win for the players, even quoting one player from Pittsburgh saying how it was a win by the players against big business. Sports have become far too complicated and I think this whole NFL lockout thing is a true example of that.
    On a side note, my Mom went to high school with Amy Goodman and she is a close family friend. After watching this video I sent her an e-mail and asked her about this whole situation. Hopefully by class time on Tuesday she would have gotten back to me and I can share with the class what she thinks.

  • I have been following the lockout since it first came into place a few months ago. Initially I hoped it would end quickly but the more I dug into the issues the more I saw that it was going to take a long time to be over. Dave Zirin does a very good job of pointing out the major issues and the disparity in what each side wanted.
    -Health Insurance for life is a big one, because without it the players that put their body about for say 3.4 years are subject to a large amount of wear on their body compared to someone who just went and sat in an office. They deserve to be protected somehow for providing entertainment to the public.
    – Lets face it sport is a very profitable business venture, and with profits there are always issues on how best to distribute the profits. The players who provide the entertainment deserve to be compensated. The owners who put the show together also require something for their services, and all the income for this entertainment goes into one pot. There is always going to be dispute about how best to divide that money. The owner being in control feel they deserve more, the players who put their bodies on the line also want a fair slice.
    -The thing about an extra 2 games is its more opportunity for the players to get injured. All it takes is one hit for a player to confined to wheel chair for the rest of his life. The players want to minimize the chances of injury and maximize the time they spend in the NFL to maximize the amount of money they make. Also over a 3.4 year career which is the average life span of a career, 2 games is almost an extra 7 games needed to play.
    I probably have a bias against the owners. It really should not be so much trouble to split $9 billion between two parties, while ensuring that the owners take care of the players have made them so much money.

  • davidhanaway says:

    I have read a bunch of Zirin’s articles and he always points out things that typically stick with me. However, I really don’t think this article will be one of them. I can’t believe he is actually saying that the owners got the shaft in this deal. For one the owners got a larger portion of the revenues, which is only going to increase in the upcoming years. I feel that the players should have gotten more revenue because they are actually what brings the fans to the games. If the players didn’t entertain the owners would not have anything to sell. Even though the practice regimen decreased I believe it won’t have any affect on the actual players shelf-life. Over the years I feel as if players are only getting faster and stronger which in turn makes the play more vicious which increases the chances of getting injured. During the game is when a player is at the most risk when everyone is going full speed. In most practices players typically don’t go full speed. So, I don’t believe the players shelf-life will increase, I think the future only shows it will decrease. This in turn is better for the owners because more players will be under the new rookie pay scale which is significantly less than the veteran salaries. I also don’t agree that the players were expected to get ‘creamed’, I think that they had the upper hand in the entire process. They could have continued to stay locked out for as long as they wanted, if they were smart with their money and saved prior, because its not the like the NFL could have gone out and got other players. Its not similar to a typical labor union that could easily find other workers to fill in. Fans today are too smart and know the game so well that if they see non NFL players playing they would lose interest.

  • Anqi Li says:

    I never imagined before that the fans have such a huge power to influence the sport team management, but after reading the article, I start to think about the effect behind what the fans did.

    In the article, Zirin provided a specific list of the financial support from CBA, which is published after the fans have a clear situation that sided with the players. In this list, there are not only salary, but also contract. I think this is an efficiency way to pay the players. For example, before this efficiency method, maybe the players only get salary from their boss, that seems perfect, but do they really worth that much money? It is hard to answer this. Moreover, if a player gets really serious injury just after he got his salary, which means the team spent an amount of money to pay a guy who cannot play the game anymore —-this is a bad thing, no matter for the team or the player.

    In one word, the most successful thing which done by the fans is that they provide a guarantee of their favorite player’s future life, although it is a indirect impact. Just like what Zirin said at the very end of the article:” It’s also an example for workers across the country. There is power in labor and there is power in solidarity.”

  • Evan Samlin says:

    I am a passionate sports fan, and I have followed this lockout every step of the way, so this was an interesting read for me.

    As we are learning about the use of metaphors in class, I notice that they are used more often and more profoundly than I ever realized before. The article and video are rife with phrases like “labor battle” (and “labor peace”) and CBA “fight.” Mr. Zirin’s main argument seems to be that the lockout ended in an obvious “victory” for the underdog players, implying that — as in any real-life battle — there can only be one winner and one loser.

    On that note, I thoroughly disagree with Zirin’s notion that the players were clear winners, and furthermore, that their victory was “the true, overarching story” of the lockout. Players missed valuable off-season opportunities to train at team facilities, treat past injuries, and get themselves properly conditioned for the upcoming season. Rookies could not learn their playbooks or get acclimated to life in the NFL, which effectively cost many of them an entire season. Meanwhile, owners were certainly not hurting financially, and had every right to wait until the terms were acceptable to them; once that happened, the lockout ended, and the owners were no worse for wear.

    I am not saying that I feel badly for the players — in fact, quite the opposite. When I hear Troy Polamalu saying, “it’s people fighting against big business … football players are standing up and saying, ‘No, no, no, the people have the power,'” I think about just how far this fantasyland of millions and billions of dollars is from the economic realities of real middle- and working-class people. Maybe some fans can relate to the players’ epic struggle for what’s right, but as far as I am concerned, each day that Troy Polamalu wakes up to a 7-figure salary to play football should be a victory in and of itself.

    I would argue that the most important victory was not for the players, but for the fans and the future of the game. The money going to retired players (past and future) ensures that the NFL will not turn a blind eye to the physical toll that the game has taken on them. In addition, the NFL will use what it has learned from these retirees to implement measures that make the game less hazardous for today’s players, lengthening careers and strengthening the on-field product. And most importantly, five years from now, when we finish a long workweek, we’ll still have football to look forward to on Sunday afternoon.

  • rdl37 says:

    The NFL lockout reaching completion is a great feet. As Dave Zirin points out the players have made some major headway through this deal. However, contrary to his belief I believe the owners did not get as equally a good of a deal. The only major victory they can claim is that rookies will have lower salary caps and must make a long term commitment to a team. While I see problems with this, I still do not think this can be considered a major victory for the owners. For now the players have won and hopefully the NFL’s enormous revenues will continue and all these new promises will be fulfilled. To me this new player contract seems very similar to contracts obtained by old UAW members for GM. Everyone thought they were to big to fail even with the new massive long term agreements and has history has shown we were wrong. I hope that this does not happen to the NFL but the rational side of me believes the owners conceded to much.

  • Cheng-Hua Wang says:

    I do not follow sports much but it seems from this article that the owners make much more money than the players. It is good to see that the players are getting better benefits, easier practices, and higher pay with the same amount of games. The owners got a higher percentage of revenue. Both sides got something they want, but in this case I think players got a far better deal.

    The lockout lasted about four and a half months. The amount of time for the owners and the players to come to an agreement was quite long, but it is good to see that the conflict resolved well before any games were scheduled to occur.

    What really surprised me was the average career length of the average player. 3.4 years seems very short for a career. What interests me is what these players do after their career.

  • annaychin says:

    In my opinion, I think the lockout was selfish. NFL players like all other sports players are entertainers. They play a sport for the entertainment of the public and it is the public that pays for their livelihood. It stated in the article even that 31 of the 32 NFL stadiums have received direct public subsidies, 10 have been publically financed and at least 19 are 75% publically financed. With so much public money being poured into this entertainment industry, the least owners and players can do is shut up, play the sport, and entertain the public. While I understand that players do deserve to have better benefits and such, I also think they get paid enough to pay for their own health insurance on injuries accrued during their career. I have no doubt that playing a professional sport can be dangerous but players sign up knowing fully well the consequences when they sign their contract. I also think the owners are disgraceful for their part in the lockout, considering the obscene amount of money they already have. I mean, they own a sports team; that’s pretty expensive. One of the first lines in the article was “Neither side got everything they wanted, but good negotiations are like that.” I’d have to disagree. It’s called compromise, not good negotiation. Good negation is when one side gets what they wanted and come out on top. Compromise is when neither side gets what they wanted but still come out with something, even if it is just a little.

  • Steve Ford says:

    I think the NFL lockout is an interesting story. I knew that things would eventually work out. I did not know how it was an uphill battle for the players. The corporations really had the ability to hold out since they had rather compensating insurance policies. This quote explains the whole article: “There is power in labor and there is power in solidarity”. I think the point of the article was to show the wonders of standing up for what your think is right can do. Even though the odds were against the players they did not back down and in the end I think both sides walked out at least satisfied and happy. I believe there is power in numbers and the NFL lockout is an example of this.

  • To start, I’d have to say that I’m fairly unfamiliar with the subject. With that in mind, Zirin does an amazing job of formulating an argument that draws sympathy. Now for someone who is not too interested with sports, I thought this was an incredible achievement since, like most who are ignorant to the subject, I had a constant assumption that athletes, particularly in the NBA/NFL were overpaid. Yet particularly with the short clip from his movie, where he discusses the sport taking away some 20 years from a persons life, Zirin had an uncanny ability to actually draw sympathy to some of the most notoriously overpaid positions in pop culture.

    The next point I wish to make though is the vast exaggeration of comparing this case to those of Egypt or union workers in Wyoming. Although Zirin is not actually the one to state it, his remark afterwards of “he’s going to get creamed” seemed to more enforce the statements than deny them. I thought this was a mistake that weakened his thesis: as I’ve mentioned, I already have an image of athletes as overpaid & trying to compare them to real struggles of liberty and economic opportunity seems ridiculous and discredits the author.

    My final thought, and more as a point I wish he had explored, is the connection of this strike and the recent, economic collapse. In essence, I see this strike successful largely due to this historical precedent: people are looking to blame more of the “fat cats” of the business world now a days rather than those who just work in the system. It’s a valuable distinction which I think allowed the grey, moral argument to succeed.

  • Kathy Wu says:

    I had two complete different opinions between the article and the video. Zirin started off the article by portraying the deal as a feel-good underdog story. It was difficult to see professional football players, who already make a lot of money and trying to get more money, as underdogs. I found it hard to relate to the players when reading the article. However, the video showed one of the players pointing out where he had surgeries and gives statistics about concussions in the NFL. It also showed someone using a walker when Zirin mentioned players younger than him who need canes. Zirin mentions in the video “…you’re locking out every stadium worker, you’re locking out waiters and waitresses who pick up an extra shift at the restaurant by the stadium.” The footage of injured players along with this statement appeals to me more because it’s more relatable. The article may appeal to athletes but as a college student with no experience with sports, Zirin’s argument is weak.

  • The NFL is not something that I really had much of an opinion on until after reading this piece. Until now I had not read about the final verdict of the lock out, like who got what. But after reading this I find that the real winner in all of this were the players because of how it is helping out the veterans in the NFL, though as a rookie in the NFL drafted in the first round I am not as happy because they are no longer getting paid as much and that money is going to the veterans. Something that helps all the players is the fact that the NFL is not going to the 18 game season, which was something that Executive Director of the NFLPA DeMaurice Smith made sure was on the top of the list when he went into meetings with the Owners. He made it clear to them that he was not going to be signing a deal that had 18 games or a deal that did not benefit retired players because those players are the ones that need the most help especially after the new discoveries that have been made regarding the brain injuries suffered to NFL players. Again I agree that the players were the big winners this negotiation now we have to see what happens in the NBA.

  • Being a big football fan, I was definitely worrying about the lockout. After i had read a little about it though, in the beginning, but didn’t really follow it after that. I knew that the owners were doing nothing but trying to squeeze as much money as the possibly could out of the players. Seeing how the negotiations ended, I’m quite pleased with the results. All in all, the players got what they ultimately wanted, safer conditions and the health insurance plan, and the owners got their rookie salary reduction (thus more money for them). I agree with Dave thoughts on how he thought the lockout was going to end during the early stages. The players had almost no advantage going into the negotiations. The fact that the owners had a lockout insurance, they would not have lost any money should the lockout continue through the season. This gave them more time to wear the players down, so on and so forth.

    Final thoughts: I think the owners are as greedy as they get, but this is a victory for the players nonetheless.

  • taylorlnolan says:

    Dave Zirin makes the argument that the negotiation reached by the players and owners of the NFL to finally end the lockout resulted in the players winning, something that was much unexpected from the beginning.
    Zirin let’s the readers know what the players were fighting for-and it wasn’t just bigger paychecks to a profession where the paychecks are really very high to begin with. We learn from Zirin’s article, and it is further explained in his interview with Amy Goodman, what the big picture of the negotiations meant for the players and on a larger scale, the fight of workers against their bosses.
    Zirin says that the players come out as the winners of the lockout because they fought together and didn’t back down. Zirin explains the outcome of the negotiations, what the owners got and what the players did, but what he believes to be the real reason that the players came out on top is that they stated their claims and didn’t let the leaders bully them into not getting what they needed. The players were able to get power and have a voice. The labor battle that went on was important for the public to see, and the fact that the people won gives hope to other conflicts of the labor that are going on and not highly publicized.
    The owners’ did have some of their demands met, it was a negotiation after all, but it is important that the players were not shut down and taken advantage of. The players were able to receive important health benefits, which they will need after playing such a brutal game, and a paycheck that will provide them after their short career is over.

  • melvinjboban says:

    I actually followed the lockout for sometime since it has started. I am a big Green Bay Packers fan and I was keeping up with the lockout for glimpses at a time until it finally went past the actual dead line for the deal to strike. I was in disagreement with the author when he thought that the players really stood no chance on this fight at first because of the power and money that the owners had. I actually researched and have read stories about the injuries that football players have when they retire and how their lives are dramatically changed by this. Although a lot of them do get paid millions of dollars, I definitely thought it was a fight that was worth the time and effort the players were making. It was just something that needed to be done for the long term of their lives, past the NFL and past their playing careers.

    Although the owners got what they wanted out of it as well, I feel like the real winners were in fact the players. They did not just get money, they got their health. A percentage of what could of have happened after they retired or while they were in practice toward their bodies went down drastically. They did not just get money, but they also got a better chance of living past football in itself.

    One other thing that intrigued me about this article is the fact that the author talked about the fans actually not having a voice in this since 19 out of all the NFL stadiums are actually 75% or more publicly owned. Even 32 have public subsidies that actually LET them KEEP their stadium. After all, a stadium is a necessity in order to play professional football to which thousands of fans from all over come to watch right? So in turn I found it interesting that the fans, or at least the people who are putting money towards these stadiums did not have an input at all. Other then that, this was an interesting article to read.

  • prj32 says:

    It’s appaling how a billion dollar business enterprise like the NFL and each of its players earning more than six figure paychecks would have risked the continuity of a sport worshipped by millions of devoted fans. Clearly, once again this is the typical behavior of burocratic nonsense, where the rich want to get richer and forget about the needs of a recessive economy. But even though this time the settlement was beneficial for the hard working players, which undoubtedly, by the physical brutality of the sport does take a toll on them, the true commitment should be towards the diehard fans, that are the undeniable pilars of this industry. All I’m saying is that a little more solidarity would’ve been better.
    The good thing is that a fairly decent agreement was product of organized activism, that raised the awareness of health issues and turned a few decibels up to the people’s voices. Ultimately preventing the cancellation of the next football season. An aftermath that would’ve not just caused broken hearts from fans, but also significant employment losses.
    It’s all about seeking common grounds, that way everybody wins and the integrity of what sport activities represent as a form of entertainment and art form itself previals for future generations to enjoy.

  • I can’t say that I am a longtime fan of American Football, particularly because I am a longtime fan of the real football, but I can say that over the years it has grown on me significantly. One thing that I have always noticed about American sports in general, be it American Football, Baseball or Basketball, a great emphasis is placed on the financial aspect of the game and the sport as a whole is seen in a large part as simply a business. This is completely understandable because of how strongly capitalistic America is and so it comes as no surprise that at the end of the day, money is the topic of debate when it comes to the NFL.

    While the English Premier League, the largest and highest grossing sports league of any kind in the world, is also a business at it’s core, it would be unthinkable and essentially impossible for a “lockout” of a similar kind to take place in that league. As Brian Frederick laments, it’s a shame that the fans are not given a greater say in the matter than they currently are. Comparatively, in the EPL, the fans are given a great voice in the big decisions that are made, so much so that a few teams have Shareholder Trusts which enable fans to be minority shareholders of the club and still have a say on the board and when big decisions have to be made. It is a victory for the players in the NFL and I personally believe it is a deserved one.

    It’s easy for people to complain about the large sums of money paid to players in the league, but they forget that many of them put themselves at the risk of serious injury for the entertainment of the nation. In addition, many of said players that are at the greatest risk of injury are not even the highest paid players on the teams and more times than not, the big figure sums you hear about in the news being paid to players is not going to the ones that get injured the most. In addition, the financial discrepancy between the highest paid on teams and the lowest is very great and that makes things even more complicated when a salary cap and salary floor are considered, not to mention health benefits and retirement packages. I don’t know if other unions can use this as a blueprint for similar negotiations with their employers but I do think that it is a victory for the players that should be emulated, maybe just not with the exact same approach.

  • Alex Mandel says:

    I thought this article was interesting. I am not a sports fan and I did not follow this lock out at all. I am not sure if I necessarily agree that this was a win for the players though. First I do agree that the players should have extended health coverage. I think the NFL should take full responsibility. Most pro athletes aren’t making the huge contracts that are widely publicized and most do not make enough in 3.4 years to live off for the rest of their lives. I think it’s the leagues responsibility to help after care for these players they profit from. I think the fans are really who won because they received another season of football. And since most of the stadiums are publicily funded, a source of pride for a community, the biggest loss would have been to them

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