The two sports leagues dominated by African-American Athletes, the National Football League and the National Basketball Association, are both embroiled in labor disputes as the NBA team owners have joined NFL owners in locking out their players.
In the case of the NBA, the owners want to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement. While the players would prefer that major portions of their previous agreement be incorporated into the new one, owners want big changes. They say that under the current system they’ve lost over $1 billion in the past several years, and about $300 million this past season alone. But the owners are also divided amongst themselves, with small-market owners asking for revenue sharing and big-market owners remaining resistant to the idea.
In a statement released on the eve of the lockout at the end of June, NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver had this to say about a new collective bargaining agreement:
“The expiring collective bargaining agreement created a broken system that produced huge financial losses for our teams. We need a sustainable business model that allows all 30 teams to be able to compete for a championship, fairly compensates our players, and provides teams, if well-managed, with an opportunity to be profitable. We have made several proposals to the union, including a deal targeting $2 billion annually as the players’ share-an average of approximately $5 million per player that could increase along with league revenue growth. Elements of our proposal would also better align players’ pay with performance.
“We will continue to make every effort to reach a new agreement that is fair and in the best interests of our teams, our players, our fans and our game,” Silver said.
Players union rep Mo Evans blasted the league for making what he calls the harshest demands of any athletes/employees in professional sports
“If we were to agree to their deal, it would be the worst collective bargaining agreement in sports history,” Evans said. “What they proposed to us says nothing about a partnership. We want nothing more than to grow the game and reward these great fans that have shown support for us and the NBA, but their proposal doesn’t reflect that partnership at all. They proposed rollbacks, salary freezes and things that don’t promote any player growth or security. It was such a terrible system.”
Evans said he believed that the system, as proposed by owners, did not give the players any benefit or share in the growth of the league and took away as many of their benefits as possible. Players have threatened to go overseas to play in European leagues if the lockout goes on for a long period of time.
The NBA has taken a unique approach to programming and promotion during the lockout-NBA TV and NBA.com are not showing images or videos of players who are currently in the league, opting instead to show old games from the 1990s and earlier, and WNBA games.
As for the NFL, ESPN reported this week that the lockout could possibly end by next week, which could mean that the country’s most popular sporting league may not miss a beat.
While a rookie wage scale and revenue splits are still under negotiation, there have been reports of progress on other fronts. According to ESPN, July 28 would mark the beginning of the league year, which could set off a frenzy of player signings considering the number of free agents at the moment.
As the AmNews previously reported, under the conditions of the recently expired collective-bargaining agreement NFL owners received a $1.3 billion-per-year credit for expenses before the players received their portion of annual revenues (this year, the league made almost $9 billion). With the new agreement, the owners want to add an extra billion to their annual expense credit, but the players claim that e
xtra money accredited to the owners would reduce their pay significantly.
That’s where both sides remain now and, while there have been reports of “progress” made, others have said both sides have barely negotiated. And an upcoming ruling can bring more animosity between the factions.
Last month, the eighth circuit court of appeals agreed to let NFL owners extend the players’ lockout, allowing them to shut down operations while undergoing an appeal of a lower court ruling that discontinued the lockout.
Even New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has got into the NFL lockout situation-or is trying to. Schneiderman’s office wrote a letter to NFL Players Association president and former New York Jets center Kevin Mawae requesting information on the impact a lockout might have on New York’s economy.