According to reports, the NFL and the NFLPA have begun preliminary discussions regarding a new CBA even though the existing one runs through the 2021 season. Some reports say that the league would like the new deal to be finalized by the beginning of this 2019 regular season so that the league could then go about the business of negotiating new network TV deals with “labor peace and labor certainty on the league’s side of that negotiating table. The 2019 regular season begins the week after Labor Day which is about 10 weeks from now. All I can say is, that makes for an awfully tight deadline – – if indeed it is any sort of deadline at all.
I have portrayed these sorts of discussions/negotiations in the past as a tug-of-war between partners and that is precisely what the two sides will do over the next 10 weeks or the next 20 months.
- The NFL and the NFLPA are partners in producing the most successful and the most watched TV series in the US.
If you think I am over-simplifying or mischaracterizing, consider some of these data:
- Game of Thrones was one of the most talked-about and cult-followed TV series ever. Its final episode was discussed, predicted, analyzed and awaited to the same extent as the season-opener of Dallas where the world would find out “who shot JR.”
- Reportedly, the finale of Game of Thrones attracted 13.5 million live viewers. If that is accurate, that means that 71 NFL regular season games from last year drew more viewers than the Game of Thrones finale did.
- TV money is the top-level driver for NFL revenues that lead to the calculation of the NFL salary cap. Since 2014, the NFL salary cap has risen 38%; that money comes from television revenues and that salary cap money goes into the players’ pockets. TV money feeds the owners and it feeds the players.
So, what might be the burning issue between the league and the union that would shut down the floodgates of revenue from TV that the league and the players are living off?
- Last time around, the players bargained for less mandatory practice time in the off-season and for leas arduous practice regimens in training camp. Would they want to give up another percentage point of revenue going toward salary cap calculations to continue that reduced workload? Would they shut down the gravy train over it?
- The players – and much of the media – think that having Commissioner Roger Goodell installed as the prosecutor, judge and jury over every disciplinary action is odious. [Aside: I too have argued that the Commish has duties that go well beyond being the league disciplinarian and I have suggested other ways to recognize such a “disciplinarian”. Nonetheless, Roger Goodell is the judge, jury and executioner as we speak.] How many percentage points of the revenue that goes to calculating salary cap values might the players want to sacrifice to change the way discipline is handed out in the NFL?
Lots of people – players, media and fans – think that 4 Exhibition Games are too many Exhibition Games. The owners make money on those games so they will be reluctant to give them up. But what is the concession the owners may want from the union that makes the players happy to take a reduction in those meaningless games that present injury hazards in exchange for …? Perhaps the owners might cede to the pleadings of their coaches and ask for more mandatory practice time in exchange for fewer Exhibition Games?
I wish it were possible to say how all these sorts of things – and the many other issues that will present themselves as bones of contention – will find resolution in the next 10 weeks. I don’t think that is anywhere near the realm of possibility – but will happily be proven wrong here. We shall see…
Changing from the NFL to youth sports is about as wide a chasm of US sports as one can try to cross, but I will do so here. I ran across a report that said that parents at a youth baseball game for 7-year olds began to “brawl with one another” over a disputed call by the umpire who was a 13-year old kid himself. Here is the link:
There are a couple of things wrong with this report that need to be stated explicitly:
- Why is a 13-year-old in charge of a game by himself? I have officiated more than a few basketball games with kids of that age – but would never have sent one or two of them out on the court alone without an adult to provide “cover”.
- How unsuccessful do the lives of the adults involved in this “brawl” have to be for them to think that participation in that brawl justifies their categorization as “adults”?
- Youth sports are supposed to teach kids how to play whatever game is involved AND to teach kids about success and failure and how to deal with each of those things. How were any of those objectives obtained in this situation?
Finally, here is comment from Academy Award winning actor, Jack Lemmon:
“If you think it’s hard to meet new people, try picking up the wrong golf ball.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………