Category: Uncategorized


Solidarity and the NFL

The NFL is basically in the entertainment business. Sure, the games are real, they’re athletes, but they make their money entertaining us. So it should be instructive to compare this labor dispute to another entertainment industry labor dispute. Let’s say the Broadway stagehands get locked out due to a contract dispute. In all likelihood the musicians and actors are going to walk out in solidarity and vice versa. In fact, this has happened many times.

There are three (at least) very good reasons for this:

1. They’re all going to have to negotiate their own contracts with the producers soon enough, and any leverage they provide for the stagehands, the stagehands will likely reciprocate if they get locked out or walk out in their own negotiations.

2. The stagehands are responsible on a daily basis for the safety of musicians in the pit and actors on stage. You don’t want some inexperienced scab moving heavy scenery around you.

3. The musicians and actors want to put on a great show. Experienced, skilled stagehands help them put on the best show they can. You don’t want to go out and belt out your solo number only to be upstaged by some idiot hitting the wrong light cue and shifting focus or accidentally flying in the gorgeous backdrop we’re not supposed to see until the finale.

Oddly, NFL players are playing football while complaining about the refs instead of walking out. But the same points above apply. In reverse order this time:

1. Good refs make for a better game and better entertainment. The replacement refs are just screwing it up, and these players are putting their best effort into the game only to have it be screwed up by a mistake by an inexperienced scab.

2. The refs are responsible for player safety. Sure, most of the calls you hear about are who caught the ball, or when to start the clock. But refs also have the job of making sure players are penalized for dangerous plays like clipping, helmet on helmet hits, and more. We’ve been hearing a lot lately about traumatic brain injuries in football, and now the players are out there without experienced refs working to make sure those things are less frequent.

3. Finally, and this is huge here, solidarity. The NFL owners are going to have to negotiate contracts with players soon and it is very likely that the reason they’re acting tough over minor issues with the refs is so that they will be seen as not giving in and have more leverage against the players. The players can short circuit that by walking out. Because if the NFL forces the refs to cave, or simply lets them go and keeps using replacement refs, then the players can bet on getting locked out later.

The NFL players need to stop playing. For their own safety, for the good of the game, and for their own economic interest. Oh yeah, and because if you are a member of a union, and you support unions, and you make millions of dollars a year, it’s just the right thing to do.

This video has been making the rounds on Facebook. It’s a dad whose daughter put a post on her Facebook wall (not visible to her parents), ranting about the chores she has to do and how she feels poorly treated. The dad responded by making this video in which he shoots her laptop nine times and posting it on her Facebook wall:

I have no interest in the particular issues of what chores this girl does or should do, whether she should get a job, or whether her parents treat her fairly on a daily basis. There’s no way to know from a she said/he said exchange. Instead, I want to talk only about the father’s choices in making and posting the video. What I see in this video is a father who is immature, childish, and has serious trouble dealing with his anger, and even more trouble relating and communicating with his daughter.

Parents are always the adult in the room when dealing with their children, and they ought to act like it. The main crime this girl seems to have committed, according to her father, is disrespecting her parents by posting the message and using curse words in it. For which he sets out to humiliate her to her friends and the world, destroy her laptop, and frankly, terrorize her. He could have taken the laptop away in a number of ways. Apparently he works in IT, surely he could just as easily have blocked her from Facebook, or deleted her Facebook account and placed controls on the laptop to limit her access so she could still use it for school work. Or, if he really had to take it away, found a poor kid struggling to get by who could put that computer to good educational use. But no, he didn’t do that, he wanted to instill fear and to express his rage.

What he really should have done from the beginning is to pretend he never read the Facebook post. Maybe he wanted to oversee her Facebook account to make sure some truly inappropriate things weren’t going on (but I’d argue that unless he had established that arrangement with her in advance, it was still an invasion of her privacy), but this post is just a girl on her way to becoming a young woman venting her anger to her friends. Does he expect her not to get angry with him? Does he expect her not to share that with her friends, in the medium where high school kids now converse with their friends? Does he expect what she says to her friends about him to be respectful? Does he expect her not to use words she likely learned from him? He needs to deal with real issues, and deal with them in an adult manner, not demonstrate his impotent rage and attempt to strike fear in his daughter’s heart because he was personally insulted by the way she talks about him to her friends when she’s angry.

I sincerely hope that when my children are teenagers I will be able to be the adult in the room. I also hope that none of my kids’ friends have parents like this. If I saw this video from a parent, my child would not be allowed in their home or car or to be alone with them. No one who uses firearms in such an irresponsible manner and has such plain anger issues should be anywhere near my kids. Oh, and don’t get me started on the fact that the dad smokes throughout the video. And one other little thing that drove me nuts: he tells his daughter not to call the lady that cleans their house a “cleaning lady”, because she “works harder in one day than she ever had in her life”. Does anyone else see the problem with that? He’s saying cleaning ladies don’t work hard and are lesser human beings than he or his cleaning lady. Most disturbing of all: there seem to be a lot of other adults on Facebook, YouTube, and elsewhere on the internet who see this as good parenting, as opposed to as the result of a complete failure in parenting.