Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The NFL Players Association

The NFL owners and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) are locked in mediation regarding a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The current one is set to expire on Friday night. Failure to reach an agreement will precipitate a lockout, litigation, or a combination of the two--and put the 2011 NFL season in doubt.

I have no problem with the owners and the players (and even their union) enjoying the capitalistic enterprise of negotiating salaries--very large salaries, in many cases. Certainly, it makes sense that free-market principles are brought to bear, and that greater talent and success generate greater incomes.

But this evening, I read an article on that, among other things, outlined many of the demands that the NFLPA is making of the owners. Most of the ones mentioned in the article are issues of "transparency;" basically, the NFLPA wants to know every little nitty-gritty detail of the incomes, expenses, and profits of the league and its 32 franchises.

And here, I believe, they have crossed a line. The owners of the NFL franchises are the ones that have taken the financial risks: They build (or co-opt state and local governments) stadia and other facilities; they make multi-million dollar marketing decisions; they choose, sign, and pay players. Without their financial investments, the NFL does not exist. The NFL and its 32 teams have no obligation whatsoever to disclose their sensitive financial information to anyone to whom they do not wish to do so. (Well, except maybe the IRS.)

To hear the head of NFLPA speak, however, you would think it is absolutely necessary for the union to have access to all such know, so they can make "more informed" decisions in the bargaining process.

I don't think so. If the NFLPA really thinks it can do so much better, why doesn't it take all of its players and start another football league? Since football is still likely to be popular, and since the player talent level would remain about the same, surely they, too, could make mountains of money?

But they won't. They would prefer to squeeze the golden goose. Let's just hope they do not suffocate it.

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