About a week ago, the Washington Post ran a long story on the status of the NFL/NFLPA negotiations over a new CBA under this headline and sub-head:
- A LIFETIME SPOILING FOR A FIGHT
- NFLPA’S Smith warns of coming labor battle – and is ready to dig in
I do not doubt that there will be acrimony in these negotiations and I do not doubt that NFLPA leader, DeMaurice Smith, will need to do more than put up a “good fight” given that he has been accused of getting a not-so-good deal for the players in the last round of negotiations. In addition, there has been plenty of reporting over the past year or so that there is some personal animus in the relationship between Smith and NFL Commish, Roger Goodell.
However, before we get sidetracked on secondary issues such as length of practices at training camp or the number of days devoted to OTA’s in the off-season or some proposed rule change involving pass interference calls, allow me focus on the big issue first. That big issue should lead the reporters and commentators covering these negotiations to take the advice given to Bob Woodward back in Watergate days:
- Follow the Money
The NFL is a $15-16B enterprise, and the owners and players share that money. THE biggest issue by far is what percentage of that money goes to the owners and what percentage goes to the players. If the sides find a way to come to an agreement there, NO OTHER ISSUE will hold up a finalized CBA.
The second most important issue is how the NFL and the NFLPA can work TOGETHER to increase the total revenue taken in by the league. That is important because either side can do damage to this enterprise if they go into a prolonged work stoppage and/or they engage in behaviors that turn off the fans. The way for BOTH sides to benefit is to grow the league revenue and that means they need to work together.
The two issues outlined above can be intertwined. As I read the current CBA – and I admit that I do not understand it fully – it seems to me that the players get 47% of one category of revenue and 48.5% of a smaller category of revenue. Let me posit here that the players are getting 47.5% of the football revenue – however that is defined. Obviously, each side wants a larger percentage during the life of the next CBA; moreover, the owners would like to skim some revenue off the top for things like a “stadium building and rehabilitation fund”. The fundamental issue is that the sides may haggle over the percentage of the split, but it is in the interest of neither side to do anything that takes the game off television or takes the game off the betting boards in the various states that now allow sports betting. To make that happen is self-immolation.
The media coverage ought not to focus on the “spoiling for a fight” aspect of these negotiations; the real story here is what are the activities going on in the background while each side holds their press conferences to air their side of the story. Not much of substance happens in that arena; the real reporting ought to be what is happening in the talks that are taking place in private.
There is a situation ongoing in college football where – similarly – there is a relatively simple solution to a problem but any movement toward that simple solution has gotten no media traction. The issue is the ability of players to transfer from one school to another and the waiver system that allows some of them to play without sitting out a season while others must miss a year. Michigan coach, Jim Harbaugh, enunciated a solution that would work to resolve this issue. Here it is:
“My opinion is that every student-athlete should have a one-time ability to transfer and will not have to sit out a year. I’d keep the graduate-transfer rule in place that we have right now.”
That may or may not be perfect – – but it is far better than the waiver-application process via the transfer portal with subsequent approvals or denials of waiver applications by some faceless NCAA adjudication entity. And now, here is why that simple and direct solution to this problem will never happen:
- The language there is clear and unambiguous. It was stated in 34 words and not 34 pages of paragraphs and nested sub-paragraphs with multiple uses of the words, “whereas”, “however”, “moreover”, “in light of”, “accompanying” … you get the idea.
- More importantly, this process would require no oversight and no approval by any of the poohbahs in the NCAA hierarchy. It would put the student-athletes in charge of their own lives/careers. Anyone who thinks that is a prime objective at NCAA headquarters likely also thinks one needs to be a Medal of Honor recipient to order a Hero Sandwich.
As we approach August, MLB still has 5 teams on track to lose 100 games in 2019.
- Tigers project to lose 113 games
- Orioles project to lose 107 games
- Royals project to lose 102 games
- Blue Jays project to lose 101 games
- Marlins project to lose 100 games
Finally, here is an item I found in Dwight Perry’s column, Sideline Chatter, in the Seattle Times:
“Brewers pitcher Jhoulys Chacin walked in three straight runs with the bases loaded.
“Lovers of the George Foreman Grill are just dying to know: So when is Jhoulys Chacin Wok Night?”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………