I don’t normally write about sports on this blog, particularly national sports stories. However, two stories have come to my attention today that go beyond sports. They both tell a story of where America is today.
First, the NFL Raiders. Oakland has been the home of the professional football franchise (except for a few years in Los Angeles along the way). If you have ever known a Raiders fan, you know just how fanatical they are. You will find them in Indiana, Chicago, basically anywhere in the USA.
We have word today that the NFL owners have voted to allow Mark Davis, who inherited the team from his his father Al Davis, to move the team to Las Vegas. The mayor of Oakland has lashed out at NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, the front man for the billionaire owners, for saying her city has no “viable” stadium option.
What Goodell should have more accurately said was Nevada is willing to sink $750 million into a new Las Vegas stadium and Oakland will not. These NFL owners, for the most part, want you to show them the money. Once you do, they say yes.
This is tragic for the Oakland fans. The move to LA was not a good time, but Al Davis saw the error of his ways and took the team back north to its roots. Oakland fans will now join the fan bases of St. Louis and San Diego as cities without an NFL franchise. For St. Louis, this is the second time in recent history they have lost an NFL club, first the Cardinals went to Arizona then the Rams back to LA.
The NFL suffered a decline of about 7% in its television audience last season. League officials blame the presidential election and the length of the games as culprits. Maybe both had something to do with it.
Maybe the owners should look in the mirror at the problem. These constant franchise moves are angering the fans. Going for the money all the time will catch up with them over time.
Now, to the second issue, the Women’s USA National Hockey team. Training camp should already be underway, preparing the squad for the World Championships, set to start soon.
USA Hockey is refusing to pay the women what they are requesting in stipends and financial incentives for this team. The dispute has spiraled into a giant national discussion. The women are woefully underpaid compared to the men.
The American Women’s Hockey players are three-time defending champs in the World Championships. Yet these ladies feel they are not receiving what they have earned.
USA Hockey has not enhanced its reputation by trying to lure good women players not on the team to essentially be replacement players. Based on the media reports I have seen, women players are sticking together and refusing to be replacements.
My daughters loved playing sports but found other interests and never pursued athletics at a high level as they found other interests in life. If they were treated like this, I would be very angry.
Let’s hope USA Hockey’s executives realize what they are doing. A world class group of women athletes deserve better treatment.
The two takeaways from these two sports stories? It’s money over fans int the NFL and we continue to treat women athletes as second class citizens.