Labor troubles, the NFL and a bit of perspective

National Football League owners and the players’ union broke off negotiations today, and a whole lot of stuff I don’t understand will follow.

What I do understand is that if the football season is delayed or scrubbed, I will survive and life will go on.

That’s a lesson I learned from the long Major League Baseball strike that washed out the last month and a half of the 1994 season and canceled the playoffs and World Series. As that strike approached, I thought suspension of play would cut me to the core.

It didn’t.

While I missed listening to the Oakland Athletics day in and day out and scanning the headlines for news of the other teams, I shrugged it off and went about my daily routine. I was happy when play resumed the next season, but not overjoyed.

I have little memory of the 1981 strike, likely because I was preoccupied with the pending birth of our first child. I was in high school during the brief strike in 1972, and I probably took it as  positive because there was less chance the Indians’ games in Cleveland would get snowed out.

The strikes chipped away at the corners of my loyalty to the game, and while distrusting the owners and never siding with them, I tended to fault the players more as their salaries sailed farther and farther away from my middle class bearings.

But the more I’ve read of baseball history, and the history of pro sports in general, the more I’ve come to see how the owners have taken advantage of the players over the decades.

In pro sports, there’s plenty of money to go around. I hope football works out its troubles for the sake of everyone, most especially the beer vendors and souvenir hawkers and others whose modest earnings hinge heavily on the riches of the  NFL.

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