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The league
Posted at 09:34 PM ET, 07/13/2011

NFL Lockout: A world turned upside down

We are now entering the critical time of the NFL’s lockout/labor impasse/collective bargaining dispute. Training camps are supposed to commence in three weeks, the regular season in two months, and the Hall of Fame game is scheduled to be played on August 7th.

We appear to be no closer to a resolution than we were in March of this year when the NFLPA decertified. At this juncture, one has to take an analytical look at the conflict and positions of the respective parties to determine the root of the problem and a potential solution.

And what have our unions done? What do they aim to do? To improve the standard of life, to uproot ignorance and foster education, to instill character, manhood and independent spirit among our people; to bring about a recognition of the interdependence of man upon his fellow man. We aim to establish a normal work-day, to take the children from the factory and workshop and give them the opportunity of the school and the play-ground. In a word, our unions strive to lighten toil, educate their members, make their homes more cheerful, and in every way contribute an earnest effort toward making life the better worth living. — Samuel Gompers. “Gompers Speaks for Labor.” McClure’s Magazine, Feb. 1912.

A close analysis of the sides shows the inherent problem of resolution. The owners — who by definition are the greatest capitalists of our society as billionaires who have made their fortunes running international conglomerates — desire socialistic principles and rules for the new CBA and the NFL going forward. This position runs contrary to every tenant and business principle that brought them riches and success.

The union of players, the NFLPA, refutes the time-honored principles of the great union leaders of the early 1900s such as Samuel Gompers (Gompers helped found the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions in 1881 and remained president of the organization until his death as a coalition of like-minded unions. In 1886 it was reorganized into the American Federation of Labor.) and desire capitalistic principles to rue the day of the new CBA.

The owners want socialistic concepts as critical pieces of the new agreement, such as a hard rookie wage scale (to protect them against mistakes like JaMarcus Russell as well as to keep the costs of successful players like Joe Thomas, Hakeem Nicks, Adrian Peterson, etc. down); salary caps (to protect one or a few teams with excessive revenues from over spending on players like in baseball), the college draft, etc. These are concepts that create in their mind “competitive balance” for the league.

Competitive balance is no doubt one of the hallmarks of the league but how far must we go for this balance before turning the entire enterprise into a Marxist state. As an example, the owners say how defeating it is for a franchise to miss on two top-five picks in a short period of years based upon the loss of the player and the cash invested in the pick, as well as the difficulty for that franchise to succeed. At what point are the people who made the decision to select the two players who did not pan out responsible for the pick and not the system or the underperforming players themselves?

If competitive balance is what the league desires for drafting players, let’s not stop with a rookie wage scale. Let’s go all the way. Let’s have the league fire all of the personnel people, scouts, and general managers and then hire the top-20 or so personnel evaluators into the league office and assign the players to the teams based upon their needs to create the most competitive balance possible.

The players, on the other hand, want the capitalistic principle of a true free market economy. This would include concepts such as no salary caps, no college drafts, unfettered unrestricted free agency and no restrictions on a player’s movements. These are all inherent principles of a capitalistic system. This is what the players are essentially requesting the judge rule on in the Brady v. NFL Lawsuit.

With these two upside down positions, one wonders how a resolution is even possible. At the end of the day, a compromise of principles will have to be made, and it will most certainly not occur through rhetoric and saber rattling. Compromise should occur instead by complete disclosures of honest rationale for positions, and then true compromise on issues in dispute. The best way is always to place all the issues on the table, figure out what the parties agree on if anything and then move on to the disputed issues. Perhaps, once the parties realize the juxtaposed positions they have taken, it may make it easier to compromise and turn the world back on its proper and natural axis.

“America’s abundance was created not by public sacrifices to the common good, but by the productive genius of free men who pursued their own personal interests and the making of their own private fortunes. They did not starve the people to pay for America’s industrialization. They gave the people better jobs, higher wages, and cheaper goods with every new machine they invented, with every scientific discovery or technological advance — and thus the whole country was moving forward and profiting, not suffering, every step of the way.” -Ayn Rand

By Peter Schaffer  |  09:34 PM ET, 07/13/2011

 
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