To those who really do feel deep sympathy for stadium workers, I apologize. It’s not that I think you, personally, are lying–I just don’t believe you in the aggregate. Though many writers are waxing aggrieved about the thousands of lockout-pinched blue collars, I see no movement to reimburse the impacted. Where is the charity, the fund, hell, the Facebook group? If such a groundswell of actual deep feeling existed, then so too would a response. For all the concern regarding “actual” lockout victims, fingers are only lifted in the wringing of hands.
To writers, the stadium employees are symbols. They are salt of the earth, striving, dragging regular-guy concerns and needs. They are what is “good.” They are what is “real.” These proletariat stand-ins stand in contrast to squabbling millionaire bastards who deign break the seal on a season we crave. Because of this, the screwed workers are a convenient cudgel against two sides whom we would wish into any damned CBA, so long as it’s done and done quickly.
Billionaires, millionaires, accept concessions! Not for me, but for those who work concessions!
When lobbying for basketball’s hasty return, “Think of the children!” logic just sounds weightier than, “I like when ball goes through hoop.”
Or perhaps, the stadium worker symbolizes the plight-highlighting writer. Though I tend to hoop blog from a platinum-embossed swivel chair that connects to a peasant-bone ivory desk, there are many scribes who struggle financially. Sadly, there isn’t a whole lot of money in talking about why the ball did or did not go through the hoop. Sadder, there will certainly be less money in the absence of a season. So, when a basketball scribe casts a deep frown in the direction of empty pretzel stands, I often wonder if he’s simply looking in the mirror…and seeing a future poor person.
It is impolitic for that writer to post, “Forget the pretzel guy, I’m so screwed if there’s no NBA!” It doesn’t help that most fans reflexively hate the sportswriting class (I believe public opinion has swung against everyone except Joe Posnanski). By lamenting the struggle of underemployed concessioneers, the writer can cathartically vent while disguised as someone the readers can side with.
So if writers get socially acceptable catharsis, and the oft-ignored workers get some pub, then what’s the problem? Well, I take issue with the idea that players and owners are morally wrong for gridlocking, that they are somehow destructively frivolous for taking hard stances when billions are at stake. I object to a self-serving argument that asks either party to agree for the sake of agreeing–or to accept a bad CBA deal for the sake of part-time stadium employees. Is it awful that some amid the working poor are about to be worse off? Certainly, but the desperation of America’s shrinking middle class is something for a government to address–not Derek Fisher.
I still clench my stomach whenever David Stern makes this owner-stoked money play sound like a plea to help young Oliver Twist, and the NBA could certainly be shamed over how much public cash they use. That’s more my moralizing speed, perhaps you prefer to yell at Joe Johnson’s shoe closet. But let’s not act like sleazy politicians, mawkishly feigning concern for Joe-Selling-Six-Pack.