國家橄欖球聯盟的集體談判 ~ NFL Collective Bargaining
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Players’ Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith. Source: AP
NFL Collective Bargaining
Author: James Smyth
Editor: Ji Shou-hui
In recent years, the NFL has become not only the United States’ most popular sports but also its most popular television program. About 163 million people, a majority of the country, watched last week’s championship game, called The Super Bowl. After the game, fans began to worry about this year’s labor negotiations. Unless the owners and players can resolve how to divide revenues, there won’t be any games this fall.
The owners have said they don’t receive enough of the revenues. The players would like to see the teams’ financial statements to confirm this, but the owners don’t want to release these documents. So it’s hard to see how the players can agree with the owners’ position.
The owners say the players’ salaries are too high. Yes, they are paid very well, but there wouldn’t be any games without them. Some think that teams employ too many other people, especially executives. For example, the Baltimore Ravens have 52 players and 19 coaches, but they also have a president, an executive vice president, a senior vice president, 13 regular vice presidents, a senior director and 12 regular directors, as well as hundreds of other employees like janitors and receptionists.
Player safety is a serious problem. The owners would like to extend the season by two games in order to make more money. The teams currently play sixteen games each, and the best of them also have to play 1-4 postseason games, such that the professional schedule is already 1/3 longer than high school or college seasons. The longer the season is, the greater the number of injuries. Not only the players but also the journalists and the fans don’t want to see a longer season, but the owners have been adamant in their position until now.
Besides that, there are more and more concussions every year. This year, 6% of players sustained concussions during games, some of them two or three times. Although helmet technology is advancing, the majority of players don’t want to wear the new models because although they are safer, they also look funny. What’s especially worrying is that the players’ attitudes affect high school and college players. I believe the owners should mandate high-tech helmets, but the owners are afraid they will be legally liable if the players wear the helmets and still suffer injuries. (Lawyers say that is not certain.)
The players want to reform the pension system. Those who retired before 1993 receive much less money than those who retired after. For example, players who retired before 1981 and played more than 10 seasons receive $30,000 a year. Those who played less than ten years receive $3000 for each season of play, such that a 7-year career warrants a $21,000 annual pension. But the average annual salary for today’s players is $800,000, and their pension funds are also richer than those of the older players, so the system is unfair to the elderly. Some of them cannot make ends meet, so they depend on the charity of other players. Because football games are especially violent, most players suffer the effects of injuries their entire lives. Although there is a traumatic injuries fund, because the system is complicated, players with crippling injuries often sue for more relief money.
I believe that many citizens with no connection to football are already being exploited by the league. Why? Because many cities subsidize the construction and renovation of pro football fields. Over the last 20 years, taxpayers have paid 65% of the construction and renovation costs of NFL stadiums. Yet taxpayers do not share the revenue that these stadiums generate. In other words, the costs are socialized, and the benefits are privatized. How can this be? Simply put, the teams pressure local governments. They say that unless subsidies are paid, they will move to other cities. Local politicians are afraid of losing face on a national level, so they elect to push the cost of capital onto the entire citizenry, including those who don’t care about football. Economists cannot even prove that sports teams have a positive effect on local economies.
As you can see, even sports can run the risk of big business. I urge the players and the citizens to use social media to come together and reject the owners’ demands. In unity, there is strength!