Venture into any NBA blog comments section and you will quickly see how rankled most fans are with the current lockout. Particularly interesting to me is the direction of the anger–many are placing blame squarely on the players shoulders while giving team owners a no-hostility pass. This is wrong, and may even be detrimental to the concept of workers’ rights.
As Americans we can’t be so amnesiac that we forget that it was UNIONS that brought us the weekend, the 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, the paid vacation, dental and medical benefits, and so on. We need to place this fight, and all others like it, in the larger context of workers VS corporations.
As atypical as their salaries and celebrity may make them, the players still symbolize “the little guy” (the irony is not lost on me here) in this fight against corporate owners. The hardline stance taken by the owners and their unwillingness to negotiate is nothing more than yet another Reaganesque attempt on the part of corporate heads to scale back advances made by unions. Obviously, there’s a big difference between being in the NBA’s players union and being a Teamster who loads packages at UPS for $9 an hour, but the duality between the two sides is still the same.
Given that I’m pro-labor in general, I side with the players. If team owners win this fight precedents may be set and there may be repercussions in other industries. There has to be standards to curb corporate greed. Part of the reason why jobs are so scarce today is because we allowed standards (AKA “regulations”) to diminish, and corporations threw up a collective middle finger to American workers. The players, as privileged as they may be, are simply trying to ensure that they don’t, little by little, find themselves in the same hot water as our auto workers, teachers, and nurses. How can anyone blame them for that? We ALL should be doing the same.
And incidentally, it’s actually called the NBA Players Association, but I don’t get caught up in semantics homie.