Tonight begins the now four day long NFL draft. Football pundits and sports radio stations nationwide have been abuzz for weeks about who will go where in which mock draft and how that pick will forever alter the landscape of the NFL.
What they are not discussing is why, if you’re an American and believe in a truly free market system, the draft reeks of enslavement.
Think of it this way: you just graduated from college and now look to fulfill your life-long dream to work in the computer industry. You think Facebook might be a good place to work, or perhaps Google.
Instead, when you’re handed your diploma, someone comes up to you and says, “It’s official. You’re going to work for Compuserve. They drafted you.”
What? I have to work where? Why?
This is exactly what will occur tonight in front of a national audience…and people will cheer it.
Andrew Luck should not have to play for the Indianapolis Colts if he doesn’t want to. Nor should any of the other 200+ athletes who will be selected in this year’s draft. Luck should be free to shop his wares around to all 32 teams and find the one for which he would most like to work. But he can’t because the NFL says so.
Some would argue that this is the way it’s always been done, and yes players in the past like John Elway, Jeff George, and Eli Manning refused to play on the teams which drafted them, but the system in general works.
Fine. But that doesn’t mean it’s right.
The NFL instituted a salary cap years ago. With that in place, why can’t each team fight over all of the potential athletes out there in what would amount to a massive influx of talent via free agency? If the Colts wanted to sign both Luck and Robert Griffin III this season and have the money to do so, why can’t they?
Because the NFL says so.
As the NFL admitted before the Supreme Court in 2010, it is not 32 individual teams, but one collective entity know as the National Football League. Meaning while you think you may be a Pittsburgh Steelers fan or a Dallas Cowboys fan, you’re really just an NFL fan as the money you give to that favored team for tickets, T-shirts, etc. is actually split amongst them all as 80 percent of league revenue is shared.
So in a sense, the draft is only about a player entering the NFL as a whole, not joining an individual club. The athlete cannot choose where to play because regardless he will work for the NFL. But that’s not the way it’s sold to the public.
And again, it still doesn’t make this right.
The league willingly restricts these athletes’ ability to engage in free trade, yet because the players want to be part of that elite club so badly (due in large part to the massive amounts of money attached), they’ll take what the NFL offers.
You, as a fan, have another choice.