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On Tuesday, the National Football League notified the players that the league will opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement…a decision which makes possible a lockout in 2011. Bill Littlefield, who doesn’t think it will come to that, wishes to inform the players of the opportunity they’ve been handed.
The unanimous vote by the exceptionally wealthy men who own teams playing in the National Football League indicated to the union representing the men who play in that league the dismay the owners are experiencing. The dismay is about the money. The owners want to take in more of it and pay out less. This is allegedly because in the unlikely event that in the future, various cities around the nation decide they’d be better off spending their money on schools, public transportation and recreational programs than on gigantic football palaces, these owners figure they might need the money they allege they are squandering on salaries. They’re also upset that players who fail to live up to their contracts because they are in jail in states which do not let them out to play football on Sunday have nevertheless been entitled to some of the money the owners agreed to pay them. It might seem as if the owners of football teams, like the owners of other businesses, should be expected to pay for the construction and maintenance of their own work places. It might likewise be assumed that the owners of football teams, like other employers, should be responsible for the consequences of their own bad hiring decisions. But we are talking about the National Football League here, so no common sense, thanks. Nothing much will happen between now and 2010, which is the first season that could be played without a salary cap if the owners and the players union don’t come to an agreement that would replace the one the owners opted out of on Tuesday. It is almost certain that when the two sides do eventually begin to talk, almost all of the talk will be about money the owners don’t want to pay the current players. This is unfortunate. Theoretically, the decision by the owners to bail on the current collective bargaining agreement gives the players’ union an opportunity to bring to the table various other issues, such as the plight of retired players who are coping with lives diminished by injuries on pensions that are insulting, and such as the plight of current players, who regularly endure head injuries that will eventually render them addled and lost, whether or not they have any money. Stay tuned on this one, but if you’re on the side of rational economics, compassion, and medical science, be prepared to punt.
This program aired on May 22, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.
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