Equality and the NFL: A Modest Proposal
Football players who call for equality are throwing rocks from a glass stadium. The NFL’s high-paying jobs are only given to men with specific physical skills, while the rest of the people are pushed aside.
It’s time for the league to start leading by example. The time is right for the NFL Equality Plan.
The first step in the plan is to guarantee everyone’s right to participate in the games.
Every player in today’s NFL is male, which is obviously unfair. The new balance will be 51% women, 47% men, and 2% transgenders. This means the 53-player roster of every team will have 27 women, 25 men, and one transgender person. Each team shall have 32 Caucasians, seven African-Americans, 10 Hispanics, three Asians, and one person of Native American heritage. At least three players will be gay.
Nor can we ignore age discrimination. Each NFL roster shall include seven players between ages 19 and 25, eight from ages 26-34, seventeen from 35-54, nine from 55-64, and ten players who are 65 or older.
The disabled will be fully represented in the new, inclusive league. Every team shall have no fewer than ten players with physical or mental impairments that significantly affect their major life activities.
The Office of Player Equality will monitor the composition of each team and assess penalties for non-compliance. Temporary, minor variations may be allowed – requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The demographic ratios will be regularly adjusted to stay current with population trends.
Next summer, the NFL will host gala events in every stadium to celebrate and welcome the newcomers, who will be called “rainbow players” to honor the complimentary aspects of humanity they represent.
To make room for the rainbow players, many current NFL players will be released from their contracts. This should not be a source of regret, since all these men have benefited unfairly from their physical privilege. The former players will be provided with job-placement services and exit counselling.
Bringing demographic justice to the NFL is only the first step. Without proper oversight, teams could still award their key jobs unfairly. For example, an unscrupulous coach might choose only non-disabled males under 40 to play quarterback, which is unacceptable. The Office of Player Equality will carefully assess how each team allocates its available playing time. All player salaries will, of course, be the same.
Injuries are an inevitable part of the game, but this must not disproportionately affect the rainbow players. The issue will be handled proactively, by placing any legacy player who hurts a rainbow player on co-injured reserve status. If only rainbow players were involved in the incident, the nearest legacy player will be chosen. The legacy player must stay on co-injured reserve until the rainbow player is well.
Achieving true gridiron equality will not be easy. Buy-in will be expected from all players. There will be zero tolerance for criticism of the new system, and for negative or hurtful remarks about the rainbow players – for example, suggesting that their NFL jobs are unearned. Violations will be penalized by fines, suspensions, and, for repeat offenders, expulsion from the league. All players will wear the new NFL equality logo (featuring a rainbow and an equals sign) on their uniforms, helmets, socks, and shoes.
Equality facilitators will lead workshops to improve the players’ understanding and appreciation of the new system, and to help them respond appropriately to criticism from equality deniers. For instance, a player might be confronted during a workshop by an aggressive “fan” shouting that the old NFL teams would “mop the floor” with the new teams. Rather than becoming angry or upset, the player would learn to calmly answer, “Workplace equality is far more important than who wins a football game.”
Rainbow players will be encouraged to share their experiences and offer suggestions to help the league become a more positive, holistic space. Legacy players will be helped to overcome and atone for the toxic feelings of superiority they acquired during their time in the old competition-based league.
Draft versions of the NFL Equality Plan have been circulated to solicit feedback and suggestions. Although the responses were not universally supportive, there is every reason to feel optimistic. We believe these improvements to America’s most popular team sport will be embraced by open-minded fans everywhere. In a few years, it will seem like the old NFL never existed at all.
Are you ready for some Equality Football?
Scott Swett is the author of To Set The Record Straight: How Swift Boat Veterans, POWs and the New Media Defeated John Kerry and webmaster for SwiftVets.com and WinterSoldier.com.