Creative Work, Sustainability, and MLB

In Andrew Ross’ book, Nice Work If You Can Get It: Life and Labor in Precarious Times, he talks about the instability of work in the Creative Industries. He calls for sustainability in the workforce because there is none. It’s needed if we want to survive, and not just live paycheck to paycheck. We all know this. It’s what we’ve been hearing for weeks.

But before talking about sustainability, I want to talk about sports.

            I also want to preface this by saying I don’t know a lot about the business of the sports, nor do I know a whole lot about the sports world, and I can’t name every player on my favorite baseball team. (I do know the Golden State Warriors won the 2015 NBA Championship and that’s about it.) So please feel free to correct me on any faulty information, you sports fanatics.

Just because you have the skill doesn’t mean you have the qualifications!

There are thousands of college baseball players looking to make it to the Major Leagues. A lot of us (or maybe I’m imagining this number) have played t-ball, baseball, or softball, growing up. Therefore, we know how to play the game. We have the qualifications to play baseball, but can play for the MLB? No. Not by any means. In fact, even those who are strong enough and fast enough, aren’t guaranteed a spot. And even once they are pulled up to the majors, their position remains unstable.

A couple of examples:

Daniel Norris playing for the Buffalo Bisons.

Jemile Weeks once played for the Oakland Athletics. He was a talented and was pulled up to play in the majors in mid-2011. After a year of playing for the A’s, he was demoted to their Triple-A team, in Sacramento, CA. Just like that he was pulled from the Coliseum and had to prove his way back to the majors. He did so in 2013 to the Orioles (and I think he now plays for the Pawsox?). Same with Daniel Norris, a current pitcher for the Detroit Tigers. Back when he played for the Toronto Blue Jays, he was highly praised. He even struck out Oritz! But no sooner he started, his performance dropped and was sent to the triple-A team in Buffalo. Both these stories do have a happy ending, but it just proves how the individual has to prove themselves to stay in their sustainable career.

So what does baseball have to do with this sustainability that Ross is talking about?

Not enough jobs to go around…even for the most skilled workers.

Ross quotes Richard Florida, saying that success is “competing for employment and riches depends increasingly on being in the right place and having the right skills,” but it’s more than that (207). There are so many Creatives that possess the right skills and have clustered in the ‘right’ city, but there just aren’t enough jobs to sustain the creative culture. The creative is available to those who have the talent. By the end of the next May, all of the Film and New Media Seniors will know how to make a short film, which qualifies us to be in this creative class. But the creative class only has a certain quantity of positions to fill. In this sense, it’s unsustainable. The uncertainty of jobs will forever live on in the creative industry. People are “competing for finite pools of investment resources, cultural workers, audiences, tourist streams, and signature architectural icons” (31). It’s even unsustainable for those in those highly qualified positions. Like in baseball, sometimes those considered to be the best have to continue to fight for the prized position. So it doesn’t matter how hard you work, nor does it matter the skills you have, because these creative jobs will always be at risk.

In addition, Ross’ reading focuses on globalization which, “tends to rearrange and redistribute resources” (208). When the blue-collar work is exported, fewer jobs are available and now with technology connecting the world, creative jobs can also be outsourced to other countries. This is only contributing to the depletion of jobs in the United States as well as specifically within the creative class, making for an unsustainable workplace.

 

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