A Lesson in Power Politics: The Real Reason the NFL Lockout of Referees Ended
As every fan of American professional football knows, the NFL lockout of its professional referees has ended. Most of the coverage has focused on the veritable plethora of truly horrendous calls, starting with a fumble clearly recovered by my beloved Broncos during a Monday night game, but ruled Atlanta’s ball. Even a Raiders fan posted on ESPN’s website that the Broncos “got screwed.” If a Raiders fan thinks THAT, it must be true.
Then things just got exponentially worse, culminating in the “Fail Mary” Seahawks pass that was clearly intercepted by a Packer, but ruled a Seattle touchdown by either bewildered or partisan refs, take your pick. Howls of outrage permeated the airwaves and the blogosphere. Even fanatical anti-union folks like Scott Walker and Paul Ryan called for an end of the lockout, effectively supporting a union. As Wendy Davis would say, “My stars!”
The amount of money in dispute, some 30 million dollars a year, max, for the ref’s’ pensions is pocket change to billionaire NFL owners(with the exception of Green Bay, which is owned by a couple of hundred thousand season-ticket holders. How socialist of them!) This wasn’t about money. It was about power. First, break the referee union, then target the players down the road. The players, who now get about 50% of NFL revenue(and why not? It is their labor that makes the game a success, is it not?) knew this as well as the refs and the owners did.
So, just yesterday, some Green Bay Packers players tweeted that if the real refs weren’t brought back right now, that the Packers just might refuse to take the field this Sunday. Players from other teams hinted that they might just stage a sympathy strike(source: NPR’s All Things Considered yesterday). And, just a few hours later, Hey Presto! Tentative agreement reached! Lockout ends! The real refs will be on the field for tonight’s game in Baltimore, thereby probably ending the Browns’ best hope for a victory, but that’s another story.
The M$M is telling us that the reason for the end of the lockout was that even the owners were horrified by the atrocious play-calling even as they deny that players’ safety was ever in jeopardy. Commissioner Roger Goodell even issued this apology to NFL fans:
and then said all of the publicity was good for the league. Not a peep from him or most of the media about the very real threat the players were starting to make. If the players had gone on a sympathy strike, that would have hit the owners’ pocketbooks HARD. Hence the quick settlement.
There’s a lesson here for all of us who want fundamental change brought to our corporatist economic and power structure. It takes power to challenge power. The NFL players threatened to take away the means of production from the capitalist bastards who own all but one NFL team, and those bastards caved post-haste to save their profits.
There’s only three things that work on those people, threats to their profits, their liberty, or their lives. That’s it. Moral suasion doesn’t work, for they have none. It is well past time for everyone who isn’t happy with the current system to learn that fundamental fact.