Having worked in a servile position to professional athletes, I can tell, anecdotally, that many of them are misogynistic assholes, who generally don’t respect working people, women, or decency. They have an elevated sense of self-worth and many do deplorable things, like batter and cheat on their wives, as well as needlessly smack their children and dogs that they see on occasion from one of their 3-5 previous relationships. They may also drive irresponsibly in million dollar cars under the influence.
All of these are good reasons not to hold them up as role models. It’s also important to remember that all these athletes are employees of a club of billionaires who exploit their talents in entertainment for profit.
Calls for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, individual teams and sponsors to suspend or fire players for their activities off the field are a poor analysis of their place in society. If one of my co-workers was arrested for drunk driving or accused of domestic abuse I would pass judgment on him, but I would absolutely defend him from discipline by our employer. As we are all innocent before the law until proven guilty. The employer ought not economically reprimand a worker for his/her conduct outside of the workplace.
Some charges, like murder, rape, arson, and other felonies that warrant holding the defendant in jail will, obviously, remove a worker from the shop, but a charge that doesn’t would not be enough to hold a worker from performing his job.
Much was made of why Ray Rice and his fiancée still got married. One such reason, which is common in domestic abuse, is that termination from an abuser’s job doesn’t just hurt the abuser, but hurts the abused as well, as they’re mutually deprived of income necessary to pay bills, provide for their family, or access alimony or child support in the future. The deprivation of income compels battered women to stay with their abuser and rescind charges, keeping oneself trapped in a bad relationship.
The League of Morality?
David Zirin has written a much better body of work than I could (http://www.thenation.com/article/181739/nfl-fumble), (http://www.edgeofsports.com/2014-09-30-959/index.html), (http://www.edgeofsports.com/2014-09-21-957/index.html), and I ask you read him if you’re into sports from a socialist perspective. He is much more generous in his analysis of individual players than I am, but I highly respect his opinions on players as a group. The takeaway is that the NFL is hoarding from the global health community on the knowledge of the long-term effects of concussions. We will not know if ultra-violent behavior may be an after-effect of having your brain rattled in your skull and the NFL is culpable in making the world a less healthy place.
The 32 clubs of the NFL also use their monopoly to blackmail cities into subsidizing new stadiums, under the threat of departing the city and “depressing” a city or metro area of the “economic benefits” and “quality of life” housing a professional football franchise provides. This is also done by the MLB, NBA, and NHL. THAt football is an 8-10 home games per year sport that generates very little tax revenue on a very large piece of real estate never seems to phase their boosters, such as Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (Democratic-Farmer Labor), passed the Republican Minnesota Legislature, and the majority of the previous DFL-dominated Minneapolis City Council.
Cities that have hitherto been hard-pressed to maintain the infrastructure, health, education, and public safety as it is are blackmailed, coerced, strong-armed, or bribed into funding new stadiums for clubs owned by billionaires, even when the current stadium is only 30 years old and structurally sound.
Older stadums tend to have a more spartan layout in order to maximize turnout of the proletariat football fanatics and consequently lack luxurious box seats for wealthy businessmen to casually observe the game whilst snorting blow off the breasts of hookers (no source). These box seats generate a lot of revenue for the teams and are one of the more passive reasons for new stadiums.
Any city that refuses to keep their teams indefinitely on the dole is punished by the relocation of teams to a city more willing to get on their knees for the privilege and “quality of life” of having a professional sports team. This occurred when the City of Seattle stood up to the Supersonics management, and consequently Oklahoma City was willing to play ball.
Domestic Abuse: Societal problems or personal failure
Abuse is a learned behavior, as is it’s tolerance for abuse. It is necessary that we build a society that respects women’s rights to exist as equals. Furthermore, jailing abusers temporarily doesn’t change the problem. I don’t have an answer on how to ameliorate the situation. But if we lived in a social system where the abused could leave their abuser knowing that they could depend on the welfare of the state for at least a basic living, they’d be relieved of economic dependence, and his/her safety from an abuser should then be sole concern.
Role of professional athletes in our society
I defend that professional athletes do deserve rich salaries for the sole purpose that their wealthy team owners would only be that much richer. The NFL quest for profits predates millionaire players, after all. If you expect footballers or other athletes to be role models for youth, you’re delusional. I recommend putting brewers, doctors, electricians, farmers, firefighters, janitors, machinists, nurses, pharmacists, teachers, and truck drivers on a role model pedestal. They all do much more for society.
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