The Union Forever (For Once)

By Michael Baker

The Management has caved, the Union wins, and for once, everybody seems to thinks that’s just dandy.

Today it was announced that the NFL has reached an agreement with the referees union that will have real refs back on the field this weekend.  League Commissioner Roger Goodell has apologized to fans for the replacement ref fiasco, and insists that the public outcry over Monday night’s insanely bad call had nothing to do with the League’s rush to strike a deal.  Nobody believes him, but no one really cares, either.  After all, the real refs are back.

What’s really fascinating about this is that it demonstrates that America’s love of professional football really does transcend political ideology.  I can’t think of any other labor dispute where such an overwhelming majority of the population vocally and unequivocally called for ownership to make concessions in favor of the union.

And this isn’t your typical union.  The referee’s make a minimum of around $150,000 for working one day a week, 17 weeks a year; the good ones get to work the playoffs, too.  When a teachers union strikes for better health benefits, you can rest assured that about half of the general public will decry them as a bunch of lazy ingrates.  But when it’s a bunch of NFL zebras (who, let’s not forget, are incessantly criticized by most of the game’s biggest fans), we don’t care, just pay them and get them back on the field.  It’s an interesting dynamic.

So how should we think about this?  Is it despicable that the public at large is willing to shove their convictions aside for the sake of an inconsequential game, or is it refreshing that we’re able to forget political differences in the name of a true American pastime?  I guess it’s both, which is sort of unsettling.  But that’s ok, as long as those stupid, blind, overpaid assholes are back on the field.