國家橄欖球聯盟的集體談判 ~ NFL Collective Bargaining

國家橄欖球聯盟的集體談判
作者:史杰輝
編輯:紀壽惠

近幾年來,國家橄欖球聯盟不但變成美國最流行的專業運動,而且直播比賽也變成全國最流行的電視節目。約一億六千三百万人,大多數的美國人,看了上個星期的錦標賽 ,叫做「超級碗」。比賽結束後,球迷就開始擔心今年的集體談判。除非團主跟選手談妥將來的利潤分配,要不然今秋將有比賽。

團主們表示他們獲得的利潤不夠。選手要求以財務報表來確認,不過團主並不願意公開給他們看文件。這樣一來選手何必同意團主的看法呢。

團主說選手的薪水太高。他們的薪水高倒是高不過如果沒有選手,比賽就無法進行。有人認爲團員中,尤其是行政人員,太多。舉例來説,巴爾的摩渡鴉有五十二個選手、十九個教練的球隊中,就有高級管理人員二十九個,包括一個總統、一個執行副總裁、一個高級副總裁、十三個總裁、一個高級經理跟十二個經理,除此以外還有幾百個工作人員、像看門員、接待員等等。

選手安全的問題很嚴重。團主爲了賺更多錢希望把賽季延長兩個比賽。現在每隊都有十六個比賽,最好的團體可加一到四個季後賽,這樣一來專業賽季已經比高中與大學的賽季長三分之一。季節越長,選手身體越懷,傷害越多。不要說選手,就是記者跟球迷也都不願意延長賽季,可是到現在爲止團主的態度堅定。

除此以外,腦震蕩的現象一年比一年多。今年有百分之六的選手在比賽中發生腦震蕩的情形,其中有的還受了兩三次傷。雖然頭盔技術每年都進步,可是選手覺得雖然高技術頭盔更安全,可是看起來奇怪,大部分都不願意戴。令人擔心的是他們的態度對高中和大學的選手也有影響。根據我的觀點,團主應該要求選手戴高技術頭盔,不過團主怕如果之後還是發生意外,團主得負法律責任。(律師表示這並不一定。)

選手期待改善養老金制度。1993以前退休選手的養老金比之後的少得多。舉例來説,1981以前退休選手的話,打球打了十年以上的選手每年收三万美元。打了十年以下選手的話,每年的參加等於三千美元,比如説打了七年的選手每年收兩万一千美元。不過現在平均年薪是八十萬美金,他們將來的養老金也較高,可見這樣一來對從前的選手較不利。有老選手沒辦法生活,只好接受同伴的幫助。因爲橄欖球比賽特別激烈,大多數的選手一旦受傷,一輩子都要承受運動傷害後遺症的苦難,雖然聯盟也給予殘廢補償金 ,可是因爲制度複雜,有殘疾選手也經常得經過訴訟才能得到賠償。

其實,我個人認爲許多跟橄欖球沒有關係的市民的權益往往被球團剝削。原因何在呢?原因在於很多市政府給體育場建設和改造補助金。這二十年來,該體育場改造經費的百分之六十五是納稅人負擔的。之後納稅人並不能享有體育場所獲取的利潤。換句話說,就是花費公款,利潤卻私享。那怎麽行?簡單地說,團體敲詐市政府。它們表示除非收到補助金要不然團體就搬到別的城市。政府人物怕在全國社會上失面子,提出讓全體市民,包括對橄欖球沒有興趣的人,負擔團體的成本。經濟學家也表示專業團體不一定對城市的經濟有利。

可見連運動也會有大規模公司的風險。我建議選手跟市民用公眾媒體聯合起來,向團主說不。團結就是力量!

NFL Labor Negotiations: Commissioner Roger Goodell and Players' Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith
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!

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