Wednesday, April 24, 2002

An Australian sports journalist says US athletes are treated like cattle

As a sports journalist and anchor for SBS television in Australia, I have been amazed, year after year, at the prehistoric "man as trade-able labour" stance of the NBA teams, players and big wigs towards each year's draft. On the other side of the earth we take a great deal of interest in the queerness of this ancient ritual. It is odd, and I believe, rather insulting to the free choice and will of these otherwise exemplary examples of the potential excellence of the human species, that anyone, let alone the players themselves, would buy into being "traded". A bovine creature at a regional stock auction would receive only a little less respect for the particular grazing pasture in which they'd prefer to spend their pre-abatoir days.
So, many thanks for investigating this archaic, sacrificial rite. I will stay tuned for your no-doubt, incisive and insightful suggestions for an alternative.
Kind Regards,
Miss Mieke Buchan

The best alternative that I know of is the European football leagues in which players sign initially with any team they choose (though sometimes at a young age, the merits of which are argued here and here). And, in the wake of the Bosman ruling, they have significant control over who they play for throughout their career. This seems like much more "humane" treatment. I am anxious to hear, Mieke, how the system works in Australia--say, for example, in the Aussie Rules Football League.