Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Are millionaire football players slaves?

Slavery is defined by Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary as:

1: Drudgery, Toil
2: Submission to a dominating influence
3: a: The state of person who is a chattel of another
   b: The practice of slaveholding

In studying history one must see beyond the darkest days of every country's past.  Even the greatest of super powers have their downfalls.  One of the largest downfalls and mistakes in human history was the slave trade.  The Egyptians enslaved the Jews, the Romans enslaved the Christians and the Europeans enslaved the people of Africa.  Slavery throughout human history is ugly and heinous and most of the time skipped over or swept under the rug.  The winner writes the history books and admitting mistakes is not good for morale. 

In a matter of a few weeks the term slavery has been tossed around by a couple of highly paid NFL players.  Originally Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings first brought up the comparison that owners looked at players as slaves.  Then this past week Eagles fullback Leonard Weaver tweeted his agreeance of the Peterson comments.  Adrian Peterson is due $10.72 million dollars this season, the final year of his current contract.  Leonard Weaver now has a record contract for NFL fullbacks, 3 years $11 million dollars, with $6.5 million in guaranteed money.  There aren't many slaves in the history of the world who've made millions of dollars. 

It can be understood that the term slavery gets tossed around, especially in very difficult times.  In today’s recession if you are lucky enough to have a job, chances are you haven't gotten a raise in a few years.  If you are in a job where a number of your co-workers have been laid off or let go, your work load has doubled or even tripled.  Salaries have gone stagnate and healthcare costs have been steadily rising along with the price of gas and food.  Normal everyday average working class people can sometimes feel as though they are a slave to their job, or a slave to the company that does nothing but take from them and gives very little if anything in return.  Even in this context, using the term slavery is wrong.  When work is done for payment, you are not a slave.  When you have the option to leave an employer and are not forced to work, you are not a slave.

When NFL players claim to be viewed as slaves by their employers it emphasizes how out of touch with reality some players really are.  Playing in the NFL is a privilege not a right.  Most NFL players are rewarded quite handsomely for their talents; the minimum NFL salary last season was $325,000.00.  Have they worked hard and continue to work hard to maintain their abilities? Yes.  Everyone works hard, but most aren't rewarded with all those zeros in their paychecks.  NFL players can do something else, they can walk away from millions and take the college education they got for free on athletic scholarship and compete in the private sector to sit in a cubicle and get paid $40,000.00 a year.  I don't see any NFL players, especially the ones claiming to be viewed as a slave, leaving the game of football and millions behind for a middle managment position.

It can be quite offensive for millionaires to complain about their salaries and to claim to be slaves during these difficult times; even more so for those that come from a deep dark history of slavery.  It is estimated that in today’s modern world that 27 million people are enslaved, that's in 2011 not 1811.  Adrian Peterson and Leonard Weaver are not among those 27 million souls.  

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