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In Other News From the Jerks Who Run American Football

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The people who run football provide one with such joy.

The NCAA makes Roger Goodell look like a man of principle. As a response to the fear of college football players unionizing, the NCAA’s big schools have begun paying stipends to players so they have live with some level of dignity. Of course the coaches now see opportunities to fine players for whatever they decide is a rule violation. Such as at Virginia Tech:

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From the Deadspin piece linked above:

Just look at that bullshit right here. (And note that the scale roughly indexes the priorities of a meathead college football coach—a dirty locker, for example, is apparently more than three times as bad as being disruptive enough in class for an instructor to report it.):

These are fines being thrown at players who, aside from a piddly shit cost-of-attendance stipend—$3,280 or $3,620, depending on whether a player is from out of state or not—aren’t getting any kind of monetary compensation in exchange for their labor. The Times-Dispatch has another photo, in which fines for “improper equipment” are detailed. A seventh offense would have cost a player $1,600.

Tommy Tuberville, head coach of Cincinnati, is talking the same game as Virginia Tech. This is ridiculous, especially when the players have no means to appeal these fines except for the same people who are fining them. Also, where is the money going? Who is accountable here? In other words, these players need a union.

Speaking of bullshit, let’s go back to our old friends who run the NFL. You know what I hate about the NFL? All the meaningless cross promotions for the military and breast cancer that don’t actually do anything but make the NFL look all awesome and patriotic and pro-woman when it is only interested in making money and has an enormous problem with its violent game bleeding over into widespread domestic abuse.

Deadspin again broke open just how bankrupt all this is. The St. Louis Rams pulled a stunt where they surprised one of their cheerleaders with her husband just returned from the military. Oh, everyone is just so happy, right? The Rams look so good! The NFL looks so patriotic! Well, about that… Turns out the husband was not only serving in the less than dangerous combat zone of Korea but that he is, wait for it, a Busch! And the cheerleader? A former aide to Laura Bush and the daughter of a well-known right-wing Illinois political family. The couple had their wedding ceremony at the Vatican. In other words, this was a stunt that in addition to the usual military pablum was designed to serve powerful and wealthy families of the area. Big deal, right? But on top of it, the cheerleader’s mother is running as a Republican for state representative in Illinois and is using the video of this to promote her political career.

It makes sense that an NFL team would go out of its way to do something special for a member of one of the most powerful families in America instead of, say, a local grunt who’d served in a combat zone, because these reunions really aren’t orchestrated and televised for the benefit of the soldiers and families involved. They are done because cozying up to the military is a good way for the NFL to market itself as a noble civic endeavor while making some extra money, and because the American football-loving public loves a chance to share in a bit of un-earned catharsis—watching two smiling, photogenic soldiers embrace in relief is a great way to forget about all the bodies that have piled up. If a given reunion happens to basically be a viral political ad—and given that Candace Ruocco Valentine is not only the member of two connected families and a former White House intern but has pursued or is pursuing both a JD and a doctorate in public policy analysis, one suspects that this moment may be shared on some campaign page of her own before too long—it’s hard to be too put out. That is, after all, what they all are.

Between this and the Brady case, that’s the NFL for you in a nutshell.

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