Progress usually comes as a result of a sequence of small steps in a positive direction. Sometimes, in order to get a person or an entity to cooperate in taking those small steps, a bludgeon needs to be used. Such has been the case in recent times with women athletes in the US.
Recall about a month ago that the US Women’s Hockey team said it would boycott the World Championship Tournament that was going to be held in Michigan unless the governing bodies and the US overseers of that sport came up with better compensation for the players and support for growing the sport itself. There was a lot of posturing that led up to that declaration but once it became clear that these women were going to stay home, a deal was struck. Amazingly, money that was unavailable and/or non-existent became part of the deal that got the women’s team back on the ice.
Simultaneously, the US Women’s National Soccer Team had an analogous standoff with the folks who run women’s soccer here in the US. Despite the world-class performances of the women’s team over the last couple of decades, they too did not have what they believed was the proper level of support and compensation. That dispute dragged on for far too long and even involved the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission for the last year because the women alleged wage discrimination in their situation. That matter was settled last week when the team members and the US Soccer Federation agreed to a new CBA.
A key element of the deal intends to “provide stability and growth potential for the National Women’s Soccer League.” That is a big deal because a key element of the continued excellence of the US Women’s National Team is the ability of its players to make a living here in the US playing their sport and growing their sport. If this CBA moves things in that direction, it is a win for both sides.
I think there is a lesson to be learned here that can apply to other conflicts in the sports world. These issues balanced on financial matters – and at the core, most conflicts in the sports world involve the same basic issue. Once the two sides put aside things like “a boycott” or a “Federal complaint to the EEOC”, the parties could sit down more comfortably and figure out a way to divide the available resources in a way that both sides could live with. The key is to make sure that money is the paramount issue under discussion; if it gets lumped in with things like “discrimination” or “entitlement” or stuff like that, the negotiations become more difficult.
I mention this because there is an ongoing contretemps between the NHL and the IOC over the availability of NHL players for the 2018 Winter Games. If there is to be a “meeting of the minds” here, the two sides need to stop finger-pointing and name-calling and start to look at the finances so they can strike an economic deal that each can live with.
[Aside: I purposely put “meeting of the minds” in quotation marks above given the two entities I am talking about. The NHL canceled an entire season to make a point that was unclear then and is probably unrecalled by most folks today. The IOC’s behaviors over the years simply makes it impossible to consider them as acting in a rational or cooperative environment.]
Shifting gears … the Seattle Seahawks signed free agent running back, Eddie Lacy, to a 1-year deal. According to a report on ESPN, there is a “weight incentive clause” in the contract that could be worth up to $385K for Lacy. According to Pete Carroll, his preference would be for Lacy to play games weighing somewhere “in the 240 range”. Looking back at the draft projections for Lacy coming out of college at Alabama, the scouting reports said he weighed 235 lbs. Using only the eyeball test, I think it has been quite a while since Lacy saw that weight; if you told me that he played at 270 at times over the past 2 years, I would not argue with you for very long.
According to a report from Adam Schefter, Lacy’s contract could be worth as much as $5.5M but only $2.8M of that is guaranteed. The rest of the contract value must be earned as incentives related to Lacy’s weight, his production as a running back and how often he is dressed and active for a game.
The second two incentive criteria may be affected by the fact that Lacy is still rehabbing a foot/ankle injury he suffered early last season with the Packers. If that injury comes around, he should be a useful running back for the Seahawks; if it lingers, he may have to settle for seeing limited action. In any event, making the weight targets should be something he can control completely on his own.
The Milwaukee Brewers have an interesting – if not completely healthy – culinary offering for the upcoming season. I would suggest arriving at the ballpark a bit before game time because this is not something you want to try to eat in your seat as you watch the game. It has an apt name; they call it:
- The Beast: It starts with a grilled bratwurst sliced in half lengthwise. That baby gets stuffed with a footlong hot dog and then gets wrapped in bacon for a flash-frying. The whole thing is put on a pretzel roll and served with onions, sauerkraut and mustard. Oh, and you get a bag of chips on the side too.
Finally, Brad Dickson has these two observations about the recently concluded NCAA basketball tournaments in the Omaha World-Herald:
“During an official review at the women’s NCAA tournament, Washington and Oklahoma held a dance-off. This isn’t to be confused with that NFL booth review when a couple players had time to complete a half-marathon.”
“Arena security reportedly had to visit the seat of Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall’s wife three times during the loss to Kentucky. If a game had been decided by a technical foul on the coach’s wife, it would be my favorite ‘One Shining Moment’ ever.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………