Pin It
Favorite

More Than A Game 

What would Clarence Darrow say about the NFL and NBA disputes?

click to enlarge art16641.jpg

With two new biographies just out, Clarence Darrow is back in the public eye — and right on time, as America is simmering in that age-old cauldron of labor versus capital. Although best known for his work in the Scopes trial, most of his more than 2,000 cases were spent defending workers’ rights.

And during the Gilded Age, a century ago, workers needed help — factory doors were often locked during work hours, there were no child-labor laws, and strikes were routinely squashed by National Guard units or private detectives hired by owners. Darrow, the first celebrity lawyer, used the press to make sure that many of his cases were covered nationally, leading to outrage over practices that inspired sweeping labor reforms.

According to his biographers, Darrow always saw the law as a fight between the rich and the poor. So what would he make of a labor struggle between the super-rich and the obscenely rich? That’s exactly what America is in for, as our wildly popular professional sports leagues, the NBA and NFL, are in the early stages of major disputes between team owners and players. The unemployment bug could be hitting your favorite professional athlete soon. Entire seasons may be lost.

At stake is money, of course — billions and billions of dollars. Owners in both leagues want players to take a pay cut, and there is evidence that business has been tough (although unlike the NBA, the NFL has yet to open its books to players). For America, is it a case study in labor relations through a fun-house mirror? Or are there elements of this fight that can resonate across society? Like middle-class workers, the players see that the economy is retracting, and they understand they will need to make sacrifices. And also like workers who see corporate profits at all-time highs (and, no, they’re still not hiring), the players have to wonder how much of the owners’ sob stories are a bluff.

As two of the strongest unions anywhere, the NBA and NFL players don’t need a Clarence Darrow. They’ll be fine. But as we watch it all unfold, we all could learn something about how we, as a nation, should share sacrifice in these tough times — and how we should share success.

Darrow’s signature move was to turn his defense of one downtrodden individual into a prosecution of capitalism’s excesses. In many cases, America agreed with Darrow and judged big business to be at fault, leading Congress to fine tune the system. This summer’s fight may help reveal whether we have a system that needs adjusting again.

Ted S. McGregor Jr. is the Editor and Publisher of The Inlander.

  • Pin It

Speaking of Common Ground

  • Big Sky Stories
  • Big Sky Stories

    As Montana goes, so might go the rest of the nation in the Big Money 2012 election.
    • Aug 24, 2011
  • Indelible Day
  • Indelible Day

    A Fourth of July dispatch from the nation's capitol.
    • Jul 6, 2011
  • The Fourth Day
  • The Fourth Day

    What if the Confederacy had won the Battle of Gettysburg?
    • Jun 29, 2011
  • More »

Latest in Comment

  • Class Act
  • Class Act

    Seeing through money differences can build relationships focused on fairness
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • Transparent Motives
  • Transparent Motives

    One candidate's an open book; the other is shrouded in secrecy. Guess which one isn't transparent enough
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • Don's Ultimate Con
  • Don's Ultimate Con

    Trail Mix: Trump's birther problems and Johnson's polls
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue
Mad Hatter Vintage Flea Market

Mad Hatter Vintage Flea Market @ Five Mile Grange

Fri., Sept. 30 and Sat., Oct. 1

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Ted S. McGregor Jr.

  • After the Deluge
  • After the Deluge

    Cleaning up Trump's hot mess is going to take some heroic leadership
    • Sep 1, 2016
  • <b>From Crimson &#10;to Purple</b>
  • From Crimson to Purple

    Bob Gregory was a Spokane-bred Cougar through and through; now he's prowling the sidelines for the Huskies
    • Sep 1, 2016
  • Staying Engaged
  • Staying Engaged

    From the Mayfair Cafe to Central Park
    • Aug 4, 2016
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • To Kill the Black Snake

    Historic all-tribes protest at Standing Rock is meant to stop the destruction of the earth for all
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • Murrow's Nightmare

    Debate moderators need to be much more than an onstage prop to make our democracy work
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

election 2016


Briefs


trail mix


green zone


marijuana


Readers also liked…

  • To Kill the Black Snake
  • To Kill the Black Snake

    Historic all-tribes protest at Standing Rock is meant to stop the destruction of the earth for all
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • Sharia Law and Deadbeat Dads
  • Sharia Law and Deadbeat Dads

    When D.C. finally does something right, nine Idaho Representatives stop it
    • Apr 15, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation