The Looming NFL Lockout
Who’s to Blame?
In most labor disputes, it’s easy to pick sides. Just support the little guy. It’s easy to root for a worker trying to raise a family on $30,000 a year, who is struggling to get a 5% raise from a CEO that makes $5 million a year.
But the looming NFL lockout is not your typical labor dispute. The NFL owners are planning to shut down professional football when the contract with the players runs out in March unless the players’ union, the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), agrees to give the owners a larger share of the revenue.
The owners claim that they can’t afford to continue under the current contract terms. According to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (who works for the owners), profits are down sharply since the players receive 59% of the revenue under the current agreement. Goodell maintains that the owners’ 41% isn’t enough make a profit.
DeMaurice Smith, head of the players’ association tells a different story. One where the owners are making huge profits and simply want a bigger slice of the pie.
NFL players are not Joe six pack. With an average salary of $1 million per year, it’s hard for the average fan to feel sympathy for them. Yet, the owners are even richer. The average value of an NFL team is over $1 billion dollars. While most of us watched our 401(k)s take a beating by the 2008 market crash, the NFL owners have the luxury of watching the value of their team double every 5 years.
The simple truth is that football is a Big Business with partners that disagree how to divide the revenue. I doubt any of us know how to divide a revenue this great. You need to be a CPA just to comprehend the numbers. The players get 59% of the revenue, but only after the owners take $ 1 billion off the top. And that’s just the beginning of the complexity. Players make huge salaries, but not for long. After 5 years, most NFL players are back on the streets competing for jobs with everyone else. Often they face lifetime medical problems, from the aftermath of multiple concussions to servere knee problems. How much is a player entitled to for their high risk occupation?
I have no idea.
But… I know how reasonable business people operate. When I ran a manufacturing company and we had a bad year, I showed the employees the books so they could see for themselves and asked everyone (including me) to take a pay cut so we could all keep our jobs. The NFL owners aren’t showing anyone the books.
If the NFL owners really need a bigger share of the pie, the answer is simple; stop playing power games, open the books and let the players (and the public) see the numbers for themselves. People who are telling the truth have no need for secrecy.