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Football Elites Again Attempt to Sell Us What We Do Not Need in the Name of Globalism: The Idea of a North American Football League

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On 10 October 2018, ESPN and Reuters announced that there is now talk of a combined North American Football League between Canada, the United States, and Mexico. According to Enrique Bonilla, the head of the Mexican first division, such a league is a possibility following the 2026 World Cup which will be hosted by the three countries. As to be expected, Mr. Bonilla framed the globalist project with a vague veneer of social justice:

 

If we can make a World Cup then we can make a North American league or a North American Cup. The main idea is that we have to grow together to compete. If not, there is only going to be the rich guys in Europe and the rest of the world.

 

According to this interpretation, the proposed combined league would raise the quality of football in North America while also allowing the continent to compete with “the rich guys” on the other side of the Atlantic. As tends to be the case with such transnational ventures, the rhetoric is dominated by positive catchwords which only serve to distort the reality that the proposed venture would likely be harmful to North American football in the long term.

 

One reason that the positive perspective is highlighted by mainstream news outlets like ESPN is that such a mega-league would likely be very profitable—both for media and sporting elites in Canada, Mexico, and the United States. The downside, of course, is that—as is usually the case regarding globalist policies—the average Canadian, Mexican, and American footballer would suffer.

 

This is because by centralizing football in the three countries, competition for spaces in the hypothetical league would increase. Given that most top-flight football leagues in the world have between 16 to 20 teams, one would have to assume that this proposed league would be similar. Given that MLS is aiming for 28 teams in the next to years—and given that Mexico’s Liga MX has 18 teams—there are a total of 46 potential teams. To make such a league feasible, this number would have to be cut down. This, in turn, would mean greater competition for players due to the internationalization of the labor market. Currently, Mexican players are mainly competing with other Mexican players for spots on Liga MX teams; American and Canadian players are mainly competing with other American and Mexican players for spots on MLS teams. By erasing the national boundaries of these leagues, however, would mean a greater pool of players and, as such, less chances of gaining employment. Instead of seeking employment in two different entities, essentially, players would be forced to seek employment in one entity; this centralization—and monopolization—would be devastating in terms of players’ choices.

 

Having just taught my students about wealth inequality in the United States, I am keenly aware of just how dangerous the centralization of wealth—and, relatedly, power—can be. Indeed, the American Sociologist C. Wright Mills pointed out more than fifty years ago that the centralization of power—and wealth—in the United States would have devastating consequences. Now, this is not to ignore that inequality is not a defining feature of capitalism; indeed it is a defining feature of humanity; our outcomes—based on our choices—can never be truly equal. The problem is that this inequality has been exaggerated by globalism and globalization. Markets have increased in number, which has resulted in an equal increase in profits. Yet because these markets—and sources of profit—do not correspond to existing national boundaries (indeed, they are often outside of them), the wealthiest citizens no longer have any stake in the well-being of their fellow citizens. After all, it doesn’t matter too much to—say—Apple if Americans can buy iPhones; if they can sell those same iPhones in China or Germany or Madagascar than the American citizen no longer matters to them. Essentially, corporate responsibility no longer matters. And the same would happen in football; the well-being of the Mexican, Canadian, or American footballer would no longer matter.

 

This increasing centralization of wealth in fewer and fewer corporate hands—the big 5 of Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook, for example—is not good. Nor is the centralization of power in the hands of the federal government. And if these centralizations—which C. Wright Mills warned us about—aren’t good, then why would we assume that the centralization of sports would be good? The reality is that the creation of one North American football league would increase the centralization of power and money in football on the continent, and it will have devastating consequences for aspiring footballers in Canada, Mexico, and the United States alike, who would face the loss of playing opportunities. This is why we owe it to ourselves—regardless of which country we are citizens of—to stand up for our countries (and our football leagues) in the face of predatory globalism and predatory globalization.

 

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America’s Immigration Policy Prompts Response from Footballer Michael Bradley as Terror Hits Quebec

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When American footballer Michael Bradley was asked for his thoughts on President Donald Trump’s executive action banning travel to the U.S. for citizens of seven Muslim countries for 90 days, he didn’t mince words on his Instagram account:

A few hours ago ago I gave an interview to Grant Wahl. After 15 minutes of an interview that was centered around soccer and our national team, he asked me my thoughts on President Trump’s ban on Muslims. [A very fair question. But one that caught me totally off guard. Uncomfortable giving such strong thoughts without really being able to think them through,] I gave an answer where I tried to make it clear that while I understand the need for safety, the values and ideals of our country should never be sacrificed. I believe what I said, but it was too soft. The part I left out is how sad and embarrassed I am. When Trump was elected, I only hoped that the President Trump would be different than the campaigner Trump. That the xenophobic, misogynistic and narcissistic rhetoric would be replaced with a more humble and measured approach to leading our country. I was wrong. And the Muslim ban is just the latest example of someone who couldn’t be more out of touch with our country and the right way to move forward.”

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Michael Bradley. Image Courtesy Of: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/jan/29/michael-bradley-donald-trump-travel-ban-sports

 

Of course The Guardian’s article missed the portion [in brackets] but that is to be expected; Mr. Bradley did the best he could in a difficult situation. Indeed, Mr. Trump’s actions have been problematic for the American sports world, as the National Basketball Association (NBA) has been scrambling to understand how the order will affect their players. While Yahoo’s sympathetic portrayal of the NBA shines through in this article, the NBA’s neo-colonialism should not be ignored; the culture industry of American sports cannot be both “pro-immigration” and exploitative at the same time (despite how much American media tries to emphasize the former while downplaying the latter):

The NBA has several global initiative programs, including Basketball Without Borders, that recruit, develop and invest in Sudanese players. Several top Sudanese players are attending American high schools and colleges on visas and could become NBA draft picks.

There can be no denying that the implementation of Mr. Trump’s executive order was flawed. After all, you cannot turn away those who have had visas approved—and those who have received green cards and permanent residency in the United States—without warning. This is the kind of off-the-cuff policy that leads to the embarrassing chaos experienced in airports across the United States. Yet, at the same time, Mr. Trump is merely doing what he promised to do (which is normal, since he is—in a democracy—accountable to the people, theoretically). And there is also a very real conflict going on in the world despite what people want to claim. Just one day after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced (on 28 January 2017) that Canada would take the refugees banned by the United States, there was a shooting at a Quebec Mosque on 29 January 2017 that left six dead and eight injured. Either this is some sort of a twisted coincidence, or it is the kind of event that should show the Western world that there clearly is a problem that must be addressed.

 

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Is Learning that Talk is Cheap. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/trudeau-canada-refugees-banned-u-s/

 

Of course the media aimed to spin it in different directions (another reason we should be skeptical of all media) with some claiming the attacker was a Muslim and CNN describing the attacker as a White student. As a Turk, I am more than aware of the dangers of radical Islamic terrorism and am therefore not concerned with the media’s attempts to shape public opinion (the head of general security in Dubai also had no problems with Mr. Trump’s policies): I repeat that there is a very real problem and I am also happy that Mr. Bradley, Mr. Trump, and Mr. Trudeau have at least started to talk about it (regardless of their positions on the subject). After all, without talk there can be no progress. Unfortunately, the fake news and odd fact-twisting stories proliferating on the internet only serve to create more problems; former President Barack Obama’s weighing in on the issue—after it was his flawed policies that created the problem in the first place—is even more ridiculous but that is for another time.

 

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Odd fact-twisting at its best. Although refugees as a group are certainly not mass murderers by any means, it would be erroneous to argue that there have not been problematic attacks perpetrated by refugees, as “uberfeminist” points out in this impassioned tweet. I will also agree that CNN could do a little better with their reporting, although I will not use the same kind of language. Image Courtesy Of: https://twitter.com/uberfeminist/status/825963414316937216

 

In the end, the Western world must realize that the root cause of “refugees” or “migrants” does not really have to do with any qualities inherent to “Muslim” countries. The truth of the matter is there would be much fewer “migrants” or “refugees” had the Western countries not meddled in Syria (and the wider Middle East) and stoked (created?) a civil war in the first place. I also believe that, having spoken with Syrian refugees in Greece last year, such people would prefer to live in their own countries and not in the United States or Canada. And I can understand the sentiment; both the United States and Canada are (like most industrialized countries) societies that emphasize the individual over the collective. It is the kind of society that can be alienating to people who come from more collective societies (such as the type found in many Middle Eastern countries). In light of Mr. Trump’s poorly-implemented policy we must recognize that the current crisis is one almost single-handedly created by the West (even if Senator Mr. Chuck Schumer’s pathetic crocodile tears tried to show a modicum of “compassion”). Despite what proponents of globalism and globalization might say, I don’t think any one truly wants to live outside of their country and away from their families, friends, culture, and language. Instead of looking to create a homogenous world we would be better off recognizing—and most importantly respecting—a heterogeneous world. Regardless of where we are from we are all people who want to live in peace; this does not, however, mean that we must be forced to live together or in the same way. Respect for different cultures is important, and any policies aiming for homogenization are doomed to failure since they are inherently disrespectful of difference.

We must realize, as Robert Kaplan does, that the United States’ strength is rooted in its geography. The fact that it is separated from the rest of the world by two oceans means that it need not be engulfed in the conflicts of the world. At the same time, as Kaplan notes, the United States cannot fully disentangle itself from the globalization it itself created. But it can, I argue, negotiate the flows of globalization on its own terms; the sooner we recognize the perils of globalization, by taking a critical position on it, the better off we all will be.