The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: NFL teams should not be permitted to require teams to dorm away from their homes during training camp if the union chooses to push for that right.
Explanation: While it is a long way off from even being an issue, we learned in recent days that one issue the NFLPA has on its mind is off-site training camps and the requirement for teams to dorm there. A relative few teams still do this—most now conduct their training camps at their own home facilities—but some teams like the Steelers and the Green Bay Packers have long traditions in this regard that they consider valuable to their culture and team-building process.
This is a very thorny topic to consider because of the audience being addressed. Not only are we Steelers fans, but those who would follow our outlet are also passionate Steelers fans. Many of you have problem been to St. Vincent College personally. Alex Kozora has been there probably literally around 100 times by this point, covering the team’s training camp on our behalf.
With that said, employees have the right to push for what they believe is fair, and tangibly, there is nothing that a team can do on an off-site location that it cannot do at its own facility—which is why the vast majority of teams hold their training camps at their own facilities.
Players are not required to uphold cultural traditions that are a part of a particular organization. They are paid to play games, not to make friends and sign autographs, and the bottom line is that if teams truly believed that the off-site training camp experience was such a valuable contributor toward their ability to win football games, more teams would do it.
Because of the fact that living at a training camp site is not a requirement to fulfill their contractual obligations, it should not be permitted that teams may mandate that players live outside of their own homes for the duration of camp.
While most teams no longer hold training camps on off-site locations, it was common practice once upon a time, and it provides an important team-building experience. More than that, it is a part of the fan experience, which is valuable to any franchise.
It is true that players are paid to play games, but they also serve as brand ambassadors, so to speak. It is not an unreasonable demand to expect professional athletes to attend a training session that is a requisite part of their doing their jobs, regardless of where it is located, if they are provided with adequate resources to do so.
It may be an inconvenience, and for many, it means time away from their family, and to some degree, it may even be unfair that some teams require their players to do this while the majority do not, but it would be going too far if the NFLPA were to push the issue to attempt to bar all teams from ever doing this ever again.