All Locked Out

This fall there is a real chance that there will be no football or basketball because the collective bargaining agreements (CBA) between the National Football League (NFL) and its players and the National Basketball Association (NBA) and its players both expire this year. Unfortunately, the team owners and players in each sport are nowhere close to agreeing on a new CBA.

I remember past sports lockouts when I was a child. In 1994 the entire baseball season was cancelled due to a failure to reach a new CBA. The entire 2004-2005 hockey season was cancelled for the same reason, as was half the 1998-1999 NBA season. Nobody benefits from lockouts: fans get bored and turn to other sports, players lose a year in what is already a short career, owners make no money, and stadiums and arenas sit empty.

Each sport has its own issues, such as revenue sharing but these two disputes are essentially labor disputes between wealthy employees and incredibly wealthy management. Players want to keep their salaries and benefits and potentially earn more of the increasing revenue that both sports experience. Owners claim that they are paying players too much and that the business model is unsustainable. Players claim that owners are greedy and that the players are the ones creating revenue for their respective sport, not the owners.

Things will get messy. The NFL season is over and the player’s union and the league are currently negotiating but there have only been reports on how far apart the two sides are and how talks keep going. The NFL season starts in September (training camp begins in the summer), so the two sides have a little more time. The NBA season will finish in June, which gives the NBA a little longer to reach a new CBA.

Who knows how things will turn out? Eventually the players or the owners may concede and a new CBA could be reached in both sports. There could be a lockout for part of each season or perhaps the whole season. Perhaps the lack of new CBAs is not such a big deal but has been excessively hyped up by the sports media. Either way, nobody wins; except, that is, the lawyers who will be negotiating the CBAs.