Thursday, April 22nd, 2004, 1:07 pm
That got your attention, didn’t it? Now you think I’m some pinko-subversive-Berkeley-treehugging-Trotskyite-unpatriotic slimeball. Nothing like praising Karl Marx to get your typical American all hot and bothered. Maybe you’re thanking the heavens that I suspended my Presidential campaign after all. No, dear readers. I’m not a Communist. I think you only need to look at nations unfortunate to live under Communist rule to know that it don’t work too good. As P.J. O’Rourke once wrote, Communism in Easten Europe collapsed, in large part, because no one in the Warsaw Pact wanted to wear Bulgarian shoes. You don’t get a lot of entrepreneurship in places where Marxist theology holds forth. Not a lot of choices. I doubt Pyongyang has too many good Mexican restaurants. When was the last time you heard about an exciting advance in polymer chemistry coming out of Havana? No, communism sucks, and if capitalism is not without it’s faults, at least I know I can get a decent taco when I want one.
No, I praise communism because this Saturday I’ll be attending an event that is a celebration of iron-fisted central planning and a refutation of entrepreneurship, competition, and personal economic freedom. I am of course talking about the NFL Draft, which I’ll be attending Saturday.
If you look at the NFL not as a sport but simply as a big business, you can quickly see that there ain’t much at all capitalistic about the way it’s run. Young workers entering the labor market this Saturday will have little or no say about where they will be plying their trade. If the team from Arizona selects you, you must go play in Arizona, even if playing football in Arizona is like, well, playing in the Third Circle of Hell. What’s even more unfair is that the very best players, those who are considered to be the most talented and with the best futures, are usually forced to work for those firms (teams) who are the weakest and most incompetently run. You might think that the very best teams would be rewarded for their success by getting first dibs on the most promising young players, but instead the situation is reversed. The NFL calls this “competitive balance” and is a cornerstone of the League’s success. I call it “rewarding the stupid”. Think about it– when young MBA’s hatch from the nation’s elite B-schools, they head for the big consulting firms, the elite Fortune 500 companies, or the sexiest startups. You don’t see Bob Whartongrad and Suzie Harvardhoncho taking jobs with Amtrack and Chi-Chis and Disney because those companies stink so bad.
Aha, but MG, the higher the player is drafted, the more money he makes, and that’s definitely outside Marxist dogma. OK, I’ll give you that, and I’ll won’t even bring up the fact that the salary cap makes that argument about 1/3 as effective. But then there’s also the process known as “slotting”, whereby the market for rookies is set by the first overall pick, who makes a little more than the second pick, who makes a little bit more than the third pick, and so on. Players who think they deserve more than a higher pick because they’re a better and more valuable asset are almost inevitably headed for a holdout. It doesn’t matter how good you are, or that you went #13 instead of #11 because the teams in between were already loaded at your position. You get paid according to your slot, not your ability. Hardly the American Dream, that.
The fact that these guys are going to be making millions doesn’t make a whit of difference. Maybe it makes listening to players whine about not getting enough respect harder to take, but what corporate slave doesn’t complain about a lack of recognition? And what corporate slave, if offered more money by a rival company, wouldn’t bolt in a second, pausing only to lift a middle finger toward their former boss?
So we agree that the NFL, and the Draft in particular, share more similarities with communism than capitalism. Well, maybe we don’t agree, but go get stuffed. Thing is, I love the draft, and the NFL, and so, QED, communism is better than capitalism. But then I start thinking about Bulgarian footwear, and Cuban chemistry, and the fact that I can get Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Italian, German and Polish food within a 15 minute drive, and that doesn’t even include a few places that make a mean chicken wing. So maybe this deserves deeper thought.
Who do I want my Steelers to select? My number one hope is Phillip Rivers, but with Eli Manning deciding to kick off his NFL career by being a dick it’s likely San Diego will trade down a few spots and pick up Rivers at #4 or #7. If not Rivers, then Ben Roethelsberger, who I also prefer over Manning. If not those two, and assuming Robert Gallery won’t be around, I think DeAngelo Hall, though at that point a trade down would be A-OK. I’m not sure I would want the Steelers trading up to #6 to get one of the QBs, but it depends on the price. It promises to be an interesting afternoon. Hope to hell we get in, but as we’re going to get there at like 4AM it should happen.
How will you know me if you see me? I’ll be the big guy with brown hair wearing a #36 Bettis jersey next to a guy wearing a #9 jersey. I’ll be waving a Terrible Towel and making lots of bad noise. Keep your eyes open.
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