Sports and activism seem to go hand in hand, with athletes beginning to better understand their power and influence.
A test of this is currently unraveling, with the Spain Women's National Football Team, fresh off a resounding World Cup victory, capturing additional global attention not just for their triumph on the field, but for a bold and impactful decision off it. Their refusal to play again until the offending president, who planted an unwanted and nonconsensual kiss directly on the lips of a player, Jennifer Hermoso, publicly televised is removed. A single act that resonated loudly, highlighted the potency of unified action in sports.
Although it did not result in the immediate termination of the President, this swift termination of their own interests was a powerful move empowered by the open market and international competitive landscape of football (soccer), where one misstep by a team will quickly be capitalized on by a competitor.
A protest, holdout, or strike is most powerful when the members possess the power to quit and have alternative means of employment on an open market.
Comparatively, the world of American Football and the NFL, paints a starkly different picture. The league's monopoly over its talent, coupled with a lack of direct competition and alternatives, creates a complex environment where the dynamics of power and influence are skewed. NFL players cannot quit and go elsewhere to a lateral league, and are dependent on their largest payday coming from one sole employer which makes any "negotiations" lopsided, and their ability to effect change virtually powerless.
The dichotomy between the Spain Women's Soccer Team's resolute stand and the constraints faced by NFL players, epitomized by the Colin Kaepernick saga, offers a thought-provoking lens through which to explore the nuanced relationship between athletes, their leagues, and the potential for change.
The Spain National Women's Soccer Team: A Display of Collective Power
The Spain National Women's Soccer Team's refusal to play serves as a testament to the strength of unity and a shared sense of purpose while showing how combat abuses of power. Their stand wasn't just a stance against unequal and abusive treatment; it was a symbol of empowerment that demonstrated how athletes, when acting collectively, can leverage their significance to demand change.
The players' refusal sent a clear message: they were no longer willing to accept conditions that undermined their worth and contributions. This show of solidarity highlighted the effectiveness of athletes as agents of change, capable of driving shifts beyond the confines of their sport.
NFL: A Unique Landscape of Power and Constraints
On the other hand, the NFL presents a more intricate landscape. The league's monopoly over its talent pool and the lack of direct competition create an environment where players' bargaining power is inherently limited. Colin Kaepernick's courageous protest against racial injustice and police brutality, while significant, encountered a complex web of barriers that extended beyond the league itself.
The absence of a competing platform or alternative means of play hinders the ability of NFL players to exercise the same level of leverage as their counterparts in other sports simply there's no other bidders like Al Hilal ready to pounce on their services.
Empowerment and the Path Forward
The contrasting experiences of the Spain National Women's Soccer Team and NFL players underscore a broader narrative about empowerment and the dynamics of change within the realm of sports. While the Spain team's unity showcased how a collective voice can drive transformation, the NFL's monopoly serves as a reminder of the limitations athletes face within a system where alternatives are scarce. True empowerment, it seems, lies in options, choices, and alternative avenues.
As athletes, leagues, and societies grapple with issues ranging from social justice to fair treatment, the examples set by the Spain National Women's Soccer Team and the Kaepernick saga prompt reflection on the kind of empowerment that transcends the boundaries of a single league or sport.
The path forward demands not only action within the framework of one's immediate sphere but also a broader understanding of the systems at play. It's a reminder that while quitting may be a drastic step, it signifies the recognition of true power.
The power of choice, competition, and a world beyond constraints where nobody's power can go unchecked.