National Football League Labor Disputes

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Professional league sports have experienced times of success over the years, but they have also gone through unsure times. The National Football League in American football has experienced labor conflicts, particularly more recently. In this case, the 2011–2012 campaign is taken into account. After the National Football League owners decided to reject the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement of 1993, players, player unions, team owners, and managers of the league found themselves in disputes over increased compensation demands, financial support from the league, and benefits for the players after retirement. Following the decision of the league owners to reject this Collective Bargaining Agreement, the pre-existing relationship between professional football players and the owners of the league was thrown into disarray. The players' unions are focused on protecting the financial interests of the players during an active performance and after retirement, including insurance, compensation for transfers or in case of injury and additional agreed-upon benefits, including retirement benefits (Maxcy, 2017, pp. 9).

Players, therefore, argued that their performance is responsible for the profits accrued by the league and therefore they deserve the most of the proceeds from said profit in their active salary and after retirement in their benefits clause of their contracts. They also argued that some of them suffered unexpected injuries leading to being side-lined or forced into early retirement, therefore, required effective insurance to cover their families in case of such events.

League owners, however, argued that their planning of the league, handling of business risks and scouting for players to join the league played a critical part in the running of the league each season, in addition to them being responsible for designing benefits for players and teams in the league. They also argued that their management of funds from every game and other sources of significant income such as proceeds from television rights was crucial. Thus they earned a right to the more substantial amount of financial returns from the league.

In such disputes, there are legal tactics that may be employed by either the players or owners, each to sway the stand of the other or force their hand (Ross, & Eisnehardt, 2017). Typically, owners lock out players, whereas players go on strike against the owners. Owners lock out players offensively when they are trying to get the players to sign an agreement that benefits the owner or defensively to avoid the harm that can be suffered by their league. Players protest, boycott games or refuse to turn up for training sessions hence suffer defeats that eventually pose a detriment to the value of the league.

If the NFL is considered as a single entity, the lockouts they institute are deemed legal, but if it is regarded as a collective of its 32 separately-owned entities, then these lockouts are considered illegal (The Sherman Act, Section 1). On the other hand, since the abolishment of the Reserve Clause, the NFL allows players exclusive rights for the first three years after their college draft, and afterward, they can be regarded as free agents. Players whose exclusive rights have been violated can strike against the NFL. Free agents cannot strike against the NFL unless they are signed to a club in which the terms of their contract are not upheld.

To create a more conducive sports environment, both parties in the league should devise a bargain that is fluid, so that it can evolve to counter future disputes. The owners should be fair but keen, to at least meet the significant demands of the players, but also cushion themselves from unforeseen damages (Greenspan, Brooks, Panter, & Walton, 2017). Both the players and the owners should also consider a key entity that is affected by such disputes, that is, the fans. The representatives of either side should always work towards a speedy resolution of labor disputes to avoid offending the supporters of the sport by delaying commencement of the seasons or being forced to reduce the number of fixtures scheduled in a season.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, NFL just like any other sports has seen its fair share of labour disputes as seen above. It is necessary to acknowledge that labor disputes may occur more in the future. However, it is essential for both sides of the conflicts to work towards a fair resolution of such conflicts to encourage sportsmanship and to increase support from fans, which ultimately serves to increase the revenue achieved by the league and foster a favorable relationship between players and owners.

REFERENCES

Greenspan, D., Brooks, F., Panter, M., & Walton, J. (2017). RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION. Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal, 52(2), 207.

Maxcy, J. (2017). From Strikes to Lockouts: Consequences of the Shift in the Balance of Power from the Players’ Union to the Owners in the National Hockey League. In Breaking the Ice (pp. 3-16). Springer, Cham.

Ross, S. F., & Eisnehardt, R. (2017). Clear Statement Rules and the Integrity of Labor Arbitration.

July 15, 2023
Category:

Sports Economics

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Workforce

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