2011 is a unique year in the history of American sports. Why? Not one but two of the three major American sports leagues-the National Football League (NFL) and the National Basketball Association (NBA)-are in the middle of a serious labor dispute. Next year, if everything goes wrong, then there may not be a football or a basketball season. That is a horrifying thought for sports fans (and, trust me, it is an even more horrifying thought for sportswriters). Every sports fan in this country wants these labor disputes resolved but that begs the question: can the disputes between players and owners be resolved easily? And, can the NFL and the NBA's problems be solved in the same way?
Although the NFL and the NBA's labor disputes look similar on the surface, they actually could not be more different. The NFL's problems stem from the owner's view that they make less money than they should. The NFL's owners want to make more money per season and would like to get back to annual percentage revenues similar to what they enjoyed before the 2006 Collective Bargaining Agreement skewed revenues to favor the players. But, NFL owners still make money, which is why the NFL is finding their case for a lockout so hard to prove in court: if they all currently make money, and the league is currently growing, then what exactly is the problem?
The NBA's issues are an entirely different animal. The NBA's teams have collectively lost money every year of the last decade and the league has not been consistently profitable since the owners caved to player demands after the lockout-shortened 1999 season. The league claims that, despite record profits, player's cuts of league revenue skyrocketed and twenty-two NBA teams out of thirty lost money during the 2010-2011 season.
Unlike the NFL Players Association, which has pointed out NFL team's profitability and their owners' refusal to open the books, the NBA Players Association has a far weaker argument. The NBA Players Association disputes the league's reported losses of 300 million dollars across 22 teams BUT they do not dispute the fact that the league has lost money each season over the last half decade. While they blame those losses on poor fiscal management by ownership, this argument appears to be weak because the NBA's current collective bargaining agreement is so skewered to favor players that there would be no realistic way for teams to make money. Like the NFL, the NBA splits overall revenues 57-43% in favor of players but NFL owners lop of a billion dollars in profits before the revenue split. That billion dollars is crucially important and accounts for most of the NFL owner's profits; NBA owners don't have it and they have suffered ruinous losses as a result.
Therefore, the NFL and the NBA are both locked in labor battles but their respective disputes will have to be solved in very different ways. The NFL is still profitable and this battle is largely the result of reckless stubbornness and an obstinate refusal to compromise by both sides. The players will have to give the owners a bit more revenue and cut rookie salaries while the owners will have to guarantee more health benefits and drop their eighteen game season plan. As difficult and personal as the NFL's labor battle has become, the solutions are not that hard to understand. That is why fans are so upset: football is profitable, everyone loves it, and both sides need to come to their senses and agree on a reasonable compromise.
The NBA's battle is much more skewed and far harder to solve. The NBA has stated unequivocally that it wants to negotiate urgently with players and that the league will open its books to a Players Association audit to prove their financial losses. That pledge is very powerful; if the league is willing to prove endemic losses and can show that the current agreement prevents its teams from turning a profit in small to medium markets, then the players don't have much of a case. To resolve this dispute, the Players Association will have to give a lot back to the owners and do it quickly. Unlike their NFL brethren, the NBA's players should be afraid to see this go to court because, once the NBA proves its losses, it will be very hard for a court to justify lifting a lockout. Since the owners will actually save money by not playing instead of another year of losses under the current agreement, they are not likely to cave into players demands again. In short, the NBA's battle could get very, very acrimonious and may be drawn out to next season but the NBA's players would be wise to negotiate a solution. The NFL's owners may be acting out of greed but the NBA's owners appear to be acting out of necessity. That will prove to be a crucial difference.
We'd love to hear your comments and/or opinions. If you submit them here, other visitors can read them, rate them and comment on them. An e-mail address is not required.
From Do the NFL and NBA Have Similar Problemss to Football Forum | Sports Blog | NFL Football Blog | NCAA Football Blog | NFL Football Archives | College Football Archives | MLB Baseball Blog | College Baseball Blog | MLB Baseball Archives | NBA Basketball Blog | NCAA Basketball Blog | NBA Basketball Archives | NCAA Basketball Archives | Fantasy Football | Fantasy Basketball | Fantasy Baseball | Soccer Archives | Olympics Archives | Stupid Athletes Archives | Other Archives | Best Sports Blog | Basketball Forum | Baseball Forum | NFL Football Store | NBA Basketball Store | MLB Baseball Store | NCAA Football Store | NCAA Basketball Store | NCAA Baseball Store | Fatheads | NFL Football Tickets | NBA Basketball Tickets | MLB Baseball Tickets | NCAA Football Tickets | NCAA Basketball Tickets | NCAA Baseball Tickets |
[?] Subscribe To|
We are always very interested in reader comments about the site -- especially ideas about how to improve it.