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Monday, October 16, 2017

Sorry Colin, Nobody Owes You A Job

I think I made my position crystal clear in a previous post that I have absolutely no problem with protesters using just about anything (short of violence or incitement), to direct attention to their issue and deliver their message of protest to as wide an audience as possible.

However, protesting is by no means a risk-free endeavor.

Right or wrong, protesters often risk verbal and even physical counter-protests, arrest, notoriety, loss of current employment, and even future black-listing (i.e. loss of potential future employment).

It now appears that as brave and admirable a gesture as it may have been, Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who kicked off (see what I did there?), a wave of player protests by kneeling during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner, didn't think things all the way through to their logical conclusion before taking a knee.

He has just filed a grievance against all 32 NFL teams, accusing them of colluding to keep him out of the league.

Listen up, Colin:

In the great country where you have the incredible good fortune to reside, you are blessed with the right to use your visibility as a professional sports figure to protest any real or perceived injustice you want.  But actions, even if they are enshrined in the Bill of Rights, are tricky things.  They carry with them nagging little things called consequences.

Just as in nature where there can be no action without an equal and opposite reaction, pretty much any action we choose to carry out in our lives carries a directly related reaction of some sort. 

For example, in a dictatorship or similar tyrannic state, the reaction to protesting anything related to the government or its various organs is likely to be horribly disproportionate and unreasonable (e.g. getting tortured, shot or dissapeared).

And in a healthy, open, society, the reaction is more likely to be proportionate and legally defensible... although there is certainly no guarantee it will be pleasant or brief: 

You are likely to be loudly disparaged by opponents of your stance (as well as by opponents of your chosen form of protest).  You are also likely to face professional stigmatization and ostracization; especially if you decided to use your professional standing and/or workplace setting to stage your protest. 

That's why academics who reach the higher levels of their fields are offered tenure; specifically so that they can advance and 'push the envelope' in their chosen discipline by presenting controversial scholarship and potentially incendiary viewpoints.  [We'll leave aside the fact that in order to qualify for tenure, most academics are forced to "profess conformance to the same level of mediocrity as those awarding the tenured professorships".] [source]

But outside the ivory tower of academia, even in the most liberal and open societies, public protest is almost always met with tangible consequences.

To be clear, Colin Kaepernick was not fired for using his workplace, uniform and fame to protest social injustice.  He opted out of his contract earlier this year all on his own, assuming (incorrectly, as it turns out), that there would be no consequences to his decision to stage a protest on the sidelines of a game, and that other teams would be falling over themselves to sign him.

Well guess what?  It is really hard to get into the NFL.  It is also really hard to maintain the level of professional prowess to stay there.  For every spot in the NFL, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of qualified players literally fighting to win a berth. 

Ever watch a college football game?  There's a reason they look so much faster and sharper than NFL games:  The players are literally playing every second of every game as if their professional futures depended on it!

So, if you are the owner of an NFL team and have the choice of signing one of dozens of qualified players, and one of those candidates has a track record of acting out on the field (i.e. using the workplace he was hired by in a way that turns away paying fans and reduces revenue), guess who isn't making the cut?

That isn't collusion.  That's called a sound business decision.  Those NFL teams are businesses with shareholders, balance sheets and bottom lines.  Every player has the right to behave as they see fit.  But any behavior that loses the teams viewers and causes empty seats in the stands, is going to make a player virtually unemployable once they are no longer under contract.

We're not talking about whistle-blowers or similarly motivated employees who should (must) be protected against retribution.  We're not talking about the NFL equivalent of Norma Rae.

This was a simple case of free choice on the part of all parties involved;  Kaepernick chose to protest.  Kaepernick chose to opt out of his contract.  The NFL owners each looked at the potential downside to signing him and chose not to do so.

As it turns out, along with the right to protest, free choice is another hallmark of a healthy, open, society. 

So, sorry Colin.  It turns out nobody owes you a job.  What you're thinking of is called 'communism'.  But hey... you're always free to go play for the other team.

Posted by David Bogner on October 16, 2017 | Permalink


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The reason no team wants Colin Kaepernick is simple. He's a loser. Literally. His record as a starter is 28 wins and 30 losses.

For contrast, Tony Romo's record is 80 wins, 53 losses; Phil Rivers, 103-88; Mark Sanchez 41-37.

Full disclosure: The Tennessee Titans general manager said he did not want Kaepernick and his circus.

Posted by: antares | Oct 16, 2017 3:04:22 PM

Of course if any single team decides not to hire him--for any reason--it's not collusion. And you're right that no one owes him a job. That's not what he's claiming, and that's not what collusion is.

He has a case. He might not win, but he does have a case. If he can subpoena e-mail accounts, all he has to do is show collusion between two or more teams. That can be done with a single smoking e-mail. It doesn't seem unlikely in my opinion. The various teams in the NFL are supposed to be competing against each other. If they decided to work deals where Kaep was not hired, that's not legal. It's also not ethical. That's what Kaepernick's suit is about.

Posted by: Jim Etchison | Oct 16, 2017 5:23:28 PM

antares ... I'm not much of a football fan,s so I'll have to trust you on his record. But by all indications he seems to be far more famous for his sideline antics than for anything he accomplished on the field. Again, nothing wrong with that (IMHO), but there is a price for everything.

Jim Etchison... I've been reading you longer than almost anyone on the web, so when you talk, I listen. However, unless you have some information that the press doesn't, I think it might be an overstatement to say "he has a case". If by that you mean that he has the right to bring the suit, or that he has the legal standing to try to prove what he alleges... then yes, he has a case. But unless and until the so-called smoking gun is produced, all we have here is a player that has made himself unmarketable trying to find a conspiracy that probably doesn't exist. Again, if you have something concrete to offer that I'm not aware of, I'm all ears.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Oct 17, 2017 7:51:06 AM

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