Why Professional Athletes Should Not Be Treated Differently Than Any Other Injured Employee

By jeffnixon
Feb. 19, 2017

The NFL Players Association recently posted the following message on their website.

Illinois State Senate Bill 12 has very bad language in it that would treat professional athletes different than other workers in the state. SB 12 is sponsored by Senator Christine Radogno (“Rah-Dough-N-Yo”)

The Bears are proposing a bill which would treat professional athletes much worse than any other employee in Illinois saving the owners some money but making life more difficult for other minor league athletes throughout the state.

The bill fails to recognize that workers’ compensation costs in professional sports are NOT paid for by the state of Illinois or its taxpayers! Any benefits paid are not a financial burden to the State. (Workers’ compensation costs for all professional athletes employed by the NFL are paid out of the athlete’s side of the salary cap. As part of their agreement with the team owners, NFL players agreed to have less money available for salaries. The purpose of this agreement was to ensure that they would have access workers’ compensation benefits).

This bill ignores the fact that professional athletes seek wage replacement benefits when they are unemployed and when they are NOT GETTING PAID as the result of injuries and at a time when they are no longer able to play (not while they are playing) – when they and their families are most in need of help.

There is no justification for depriving athletes the same access to benefits available to any other injured employee. SB 12 is special interest legislation intended only to benefit team owners, not the Illinois citizens. This bill has no place in the State budget package.

The bill targets a single class of employees, many of whom are low wage earners and who rely heavily on the benefits from workers’ compensation to address any work-related injury. The bill would affect all levels of minor league professional athletes. Low level soccer players, baseball players, hockey players, and even women playing in the Women’s Football Alliance and WNBA, some of whom only earn a few hundred dollars a week, would be affected.

Athletes help generate billions of dollars for the Illinois state economy and pay hundreds of millions of dollars each year in income taxes to Illinois. Despite that, SB12 targets and only affects the athletes who play the game and risk injury on a daily basis, while still allowing all other employees of sport teams the same benefits as any other injured employee.

The bill fails to recognize that the total cost of workers’ compensation benefits paid by sports teams is minimal compared to revenues generated by athletes/employees. For instance, the Chicago Bears admitted workers’ compensation costs represent a small fraction of their substantial operating profit, based on league-wide revenues of over $12 BILLION.

How can you help? Take to social media and let your followers know how unfair it is to discriminate against you as former employees. We have to put massive public pressure on them to stop this from happening.

Louisiana tried to do this and the Saints players actually stormed the state legislature and took to social media to stop it and it worked!

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You can send a message directly to Christine Radogno by clicking on the following link: Contact Form.  Please feel free to copy the statement below and insert it into the Comment/Question section of the contact form.

SB 12 is special interest legislation intended only to benefit team owners, not the Illinois citizens. This bill has no place in the State budget package. The bill targets a single class of employees, many of whom are low wage earners and who rely heavily on the benefits from workers’ compensation to address any work-related injury. This bill ignores the fact that professional athletes seek wage replacement benefits when they are unemployed and when they are NOT GETTING PAID as the result of injuries and at a time when they are no longer able to play (not while they are playing) – when they and their families are most in need of help. The bill would also affect all levels of minor league professional athletes. Low level soccer players, baseball players, hockey players, and even women playing in the Women’s Football Alliance and WNBA, some of whom only earn a few hundred dollars a week, would be affected. Athletes help generate billions of dollars for the Illinois state economy and pay hundreds of millions of dollars each year in income taxes to Illinois. Despite that, SB12 targets and only affects the athletes who play the game and risk injury on a daily basis, while still allowing all other employees of sport teams the same benefits as any other injured employee.

Please also feel free to contact Senator Radogno's office at 630-243-0800 or 217-782-9407. If you get her voicemail or a staffer – which is most likely - just read the above statement.

NFL Retired Players United!

Sincerely,

Jeff Nixon