The Game Is On: NFL Versus Player’s Union

Steve O Speak

A Guest Blog By Tim Ambler:

The future of America’s most popular sport lies in limbo. The fate of the tournaments and games is being threatened by a contract. Many fans were probably not even aware that NFL and the players union operate under contract. The recent disclosure of the end of the NFL contract with the player’s Union, and the need for a proper negotiation on the sharing of funds collected from this popular sport-American football. As is always the case in money disputes, none of the parties is willing to give in or compromise. Many fans are now wondering is the football season will come to a halt once the deadline given in the contract reaches. The time for negotiation is coming to an end as Thursday midnight draws nearer. To many of the football fans it seems that the looming strike is inevitable, thereby threatening the start of the expected 2011 season and in fact the entire season as a whole. For those already holding tickets in anticipation of the games ahead, and for those fans who have found ways to dedicate third time to watching their favorite sport on television frustration is already looming. If the games are postponed or scraped off altogether, fans will be denied an opportunity to engage with their favorite players, cheer their favorite teams and many may be counting financial losses (since refunds on reschedules) are yet to be announced. Perhaps, it is time for the millionaires and billionaires to stop squabbling, draw a game plan based on compromise and take the fans interest at heart.

It is expected that the NFL owners will keep their players from the field if new contracts are not signed. Many are in fact just praying for a miracle, which has of course not come in the form of the federal negotiator. Although, the negotiator has been working with both sides to draw favorable terms for each, the time spent seems to be wasted as a compromise is yet to be reached and a new contract signed. NFL owners are demanding new terms ion the labor contract to be signed with the player’s union, terms which the union complain will favor the owners but lock out the benefits accrued to the players. However, there is a ray of hope coming from the decision in the Minnesota court where NFL owners were found in violation of the contract. According to the judge ruling in the case, the owners have negotiated payments accruing to $4billion dollars coming from the stations airing the live games. What is disturbing is that the amount was to be paid whether the games were re-scheduled or cancelled altogether. On the other hand, the payers who bring life to the game would have earned nothing and were in fact not covered by the health insurance should the games be cancelled or re-scheduled. By ruling in the union’s favor, the judge leveled the ground for negotiation. Where the NFL players had felt they would lose little if the contracts were not signed by Thursday, they now came to the realization that losses would be on both sides.

While the owners threaten to take away the player’s earnings from the games through a lock up, the players have threatened to dissolve the player’s union. Whereas this may seem an unwise move to fans, it is actually very strategic. By dissolving the union, the player’s will also be disbanding some of the NFL rules which have been beneficial to the owners. These include a limit to their salaries and insurance. The owners will now be expected to provide competitive offers which have no limit and this may become a costly expense cutting deep into the profits they earn from the games. The threats being issued by each side in this dispute, many stakeholders fear that the economic effects will be massive. From the media moguls who sell so much airtime in terms of commercials to the small souvenir vendors in the stadiums, the effects will be massive.

For the teams, the college drafting will still continue. Therefore coaches will still continue to pick their favorite star college players, however no drafts will be signed unless new agreements are reached. However, the chances of such a compromise being reached in favor of wither team is becoming lower as the demands continue to escalate. The players claim to be satisfied with the current terms of agreement; however the owners are demanding an increase in their income in terms of $1 billion dollars. This would mean a cut of about $500, 000 to each player annually. As the agents have stated continually, the owners already have billions they are making from the players and should therefore not be taking more. On the other hand NFL owners are claiming that without their resources, the player’s talent and in fact the entire game would not exist.

For the fans however, the bickering is becoming irritating. While they are fighting for the billions to be made from the game, perhaps it is important for both the owners and players to realize where the billions are coming from. Faithful fans watch the games, buy the tickets and the souvenirs; stadiums are not filled by owners and players but by lovers of the game. It therefore follows that perhaps, the owners and players should put the interest of the fans before their own. One likely scenario in which this can be done is for the contract currently in existence between the NFL owners and players to be extended for a while come Thursday midnight while the negotiations continue. This way the games will continue, and all stakeholders and fans will have a chance to continue enjoying the games while the NFL owners and players union agree to favorable terms for each party.

But even with the involvement of the courts by both parties, with NFL claiming the players union had not entered the negotiations truthfully and Players claiming breach of contract by NFL, time is fast running out for an agreement to be reached before America’s favorite game is thrown in shambles.

About the Author: Tim Ambler is an avid football fan and the owner a MightyPromos a marketing firm that offers products, including promotional footballs, that can be customized with a logo or text of the customer’s choosing.

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