In the wake of President Obama's announcement that 33,000 troops in Afghanistan will come back home by next summer, it is absolutely critical that we do not forget about our true American heroes: Professional athletes.
With all this talk of persistently high unemployment, ballooning U.S. debt and ongoing war efforts throughout the Middle East and North Africa, the plight of professional basketball and football players is sometimes forgotten. This, however, is a travesty that must be mended.
The NFL is embroiled in a bitter lockout pitting team owners against the players' association. Since 2006, players have seen a steady decline in their percentage of all revenues, and that is an injustice they are not willing to stand any longer.
And who can blame them? The average NFL player salary is a mere $1.9 million, and the median salary is only $770,000 per year. Compared to the median secondary school teacher salary of around $51,000 per year, it's blatantly obvious that NFL players' concerns should be met with understanding, patience and empathy.
Meanwhile, though it has not yet reached lockout status, the NBA's collective bargaining agreement expires June 30 and it is likely that the league will have its own lockout as players and owners argue over the its economic model.
At $4.79 million per year , the average NBA player takes home the biggest paycheck of any professional athlete. Therefore, it's no wonder players want to make sure they are compensated for their hard work, lest they join the ranks of the 13.9 million unemployed Americans who couldn't find a job in May.
Luckily, NBA players are "unified in the sense of not being afraid" of the possibility of a lockout, NBA player's union president and Los Angeles Lakers point guard Derek Fisher said this week.
Spoken like a true American hero.