One has to wonder if the NFL players who are upsetting fans and driving down TV ratings ever took an economics class while they were in college. Perhaps then they might understand that regardless of what their contract says, unless there are people willing to pay to go to their games, buy their jerseys, and watch their games on TV, they will not be making the millions of dollars per year that they have in the past. They only command a high salary because the demand for their services is high. If that demand decreases, so will the amount of money they can make.
Hopefully, while they were in college, they received a real degree, instead of just getting credit while they never actually attended classes as it seems some college athletes do. If things continue as they are now, with NFL revenues imploding, the players may need to use whatever skills they learned in college to find a different line of work.
While political expression is fine, people don’t generally want to have your political views thrust upon them while they are at your place of business. You would not want your server in a restaurant giving you a speech on the need for single-payer healthcare while you were trying to order your meal. You would not want your accountant going on about right-to-carry while you were handing in your tax paperwork. And you would not want your doctor lobbying for a larger military while you were getting your yearly physical. There is a place for protests and there is a time for speeches, but it is not when customers have decided to use your services.
People watching a football game want to be entertained. They want an escape. Even if they agree with your points, they do not want to be lectured when they have come to watch a game. The game is held for the entertainment of the fans, not so that football players would have a place to play a game. Certainly not so that players could use their captive audience to lecture them.
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Just by virtue of being on a big stage each week with a big audience, NFL players have a big microphone. Players could call a press conference whenever they wished and have TV crews show up, eager to hear what they have to say. Sports Illustrated would probably publish their comments on whatever they wished to talk about. They could do a lot of good for the inner-cities, and do so in a manner that would not hack off a lot of their fans.
If players really want to help those in inner-city neighborhoods – places where they would not dream of living once they become stars – there are many ways they could help using their celebrity. Things they could say include:
1. Most people won’t get into the NFL or NBA, so kids had better make sure they get a good education. Of the tens of thousands of kids who play in Pop Warner football or grade school teams, only a couple of dozen will make it to the pros. NFL starts could encourage kids to make sure they go to class, do their homework, and go to college or a good trade school after high school, just in case the Raiders don’t call.
2. Parents should demand teachers teach, principals maintain order and safety in their schools, and that students are respectful and put in the work needed to learn. Inner-city school, despite costing thousands of dollars more per pupil than many of their suburban counterparts, have dismal records when it comes to the number of students who can read and write by the time they graduate. NFL players should encourage parents to get involved with their school and if they are going to protest something, they should demand a better learning environment. That will often require that other parents do their job when it comes to raising their kids.
3. Clean up your communities. Rather than attacking the police officers who patrol inner-city neighborhoods, NFL players could work with residents and law enforcement to get rid of the crime and violence that causes residents to come into contact with law enforcement in an adversarial fashion so often. The more often police are called in to investigate a shooting or remove drug dealers, the more likely it is that innocent people will be swept up in the confusion (or non-innocent, but minor offenders will perform an action that causes them to be shot or hurt during the excitement).
4. Choose your partners well and wait for the situation where you would welcome children before having sex. (This is something that people in virtually all communities could learn.) One of the greatest causes of poverty is having a child before finishing an education. The lack of a parent in the home leads to children who grow up unsupervised, making them targets for gangs and trouble, and leading to future generations of uneducated, single-parent homes. NFL players could encourage girls to wait for a male partner who is willing and able to support a family. They could encourage boys to be “real men,” wait to have sex until they are in a position to raise children, and be there for their wives and their children.
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5. Become teachers, firemen, police officers, military personnel, and business owners. If the police departments truly are racist, the easiest way to change things is for those in inner-city communities to join the force. They could also take on roles that would enrich their lives and their communities. Instead of complaining about “the man,” open a business yourself and serve others. Instead of disrespecting those who sacrificed themselves to protect the freedom the NFL players enjoy, the players could encourage youth to join the military and protect their country.
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