On the EDge: NFL Zebras stampede, smacks of greed

OPINION – Normally, I’m all for the working stiff. I believe in “power to the people,” the struggle of the working-class hero and all that.

I don’t like large corporations, the people who run them, and the things they have done to the U.S. workforce. I am pro-union, pro-worker. I don’t believe in trickle-down economics or tax breaks for the rich, and I certainly don’t like the fact that big companies are more concerned with feeding money into the bank accounts of investors than helping loyal employees make a livable wage, especially the companies that expect loyalty from their employees but offer none in return.

I don’t like the fact that many of these corporations run understaffed and underequipped for the sake of stockpiling dollars. It cheapens whatever product they are making and is a bad tradeoff for the consumer who is forced to accept inferior products that are over-priced to keep the revenue stream flowing in an upward direction.

I have never met a corporate president or CEO I liked or trusted. I have seen far too many of them line their own pockets while allowing their staffs to flounder. I know one guy who works for a fairly large company who threatened to walk away from his gig because the corporate hot dogs put a little pressure on him. What happened? He leveraged a raise for himself, even though there was a wage freeze and the people who worked under him were trying to figure out how to struggle through rising benefit costs and declining wages.

When the corporation in question is something as radically monopolized and one-sided as, say, the National Football League, my anti-management-ownership stance is even more firmly entrenched.

I mean, I have supported the players each time they decided to strike for a bigger piece of that multi-million-dollar pie the owners hoard. I supported the NFL referees last time they had a beef with management.

But, with the NFL season now under way, I am having a difficult time with the current strike by the refs.

I mean, really, these guys are making a fair amount of money — from more than $40,000 per year to $120,000 — with benefits and a pension, while working what amounts to a part-time job. They make more than most teachers in this country. It makes me wonder how my Dad, God love him, would feel. He held part-time jobs most of his life just to keep food on our table, often for as little as $1 an hour.

The economy is still in the toilet and unemployment numbers are not good, even when they are jacked-up, spin-driven numbers that show the unemployment rate declining because, well, they neglect to add in those who have simply given up looking for work. Seeing these guys who are earning, according to one report I saw, $33 a minute and wanting more, whether in salary or benefits, is not going to sit well with blue collar workers and those who are struggling to get by. The timing just couldn’t be worse in that regard, even here in St. George where the unemployment rate is a little lower than the rest of the nation.

There is also the reality that nobody has ever bought a ticket to watch a football referee run up and down the field. They’re simply the zebras, hustling on the pitch to try to keep things in check. The only time you really notice them is when they blow a call, which happens more than it should for guys being paid that much.

But, the bottom line is that fans put down their money to see guys like Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning, not referees like Ed Hochuli who, by the way, is a trial lawyer. The salary he receives from the NFL? It’s just walking-around money compared to what he brings in from his law firm.

Finally, this is a child’s game being played by grown men. It will not cure disease, ease hunger, or result in world peace and harmony. It is entertainment and, although I am a diehard Oakland Raiders fan and love my Sundays in front of the TV, if suddenly it all disappeared, I think I could somehow manage.

No bad days!


Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.

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