Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Kerrzy’s Notebook: The Battle of the CBA

It’s an uncertain time in sports right now – the collective bargaining agreement of the NFL is up this year, with the NHL’s and NBA’s agreements expiring next year.

What’s worse, it sounds like none of the aforementioned leagues are going to have it very easy when it comes time to negotiate a new deal.

First up: the NBA.

I came across an article this weekend that surprised me – according to NBA commissioner David Stern, the league is projecting losses of about $400-million this season and has lost hundreds of millions of dollars in every season since 2005.

With their CBA running out very soon, the league is apparently proposing reductions in the salaries of first round picks, a sharp drop in the maximum salary for any player (along with the number of years a guy can sign for) and a reduction in the players share of basketball related income. Not surprisingly, that proposal was immediately tossed out by the players union.

Stern says the union is welcome to send the league a counter-proposal, but that “significant changes” are needed in the next deal.

The thing is, if ‘significant changes’ means the players will have to agree to see their salaries drop, which they will, it’s going to be a long, dirty battle to get a new agreement signed. Remember the NHL lockout?

Next topic: the NFL.

According to reports, the NFL is still making money but the players are getting richer while the owners feel the pinch of the current economic climate.

Business Week says players received about $2.6-billion in salary and benefits under the current labor contract, while the owners lost about $220-million. The NFL’s chief financial officer says the league’s total revenue rose 8 percent from 2006 to 2008 to about $8-billion, but player costs are up 9 percent.

Once again, the league is hoping to get the players to take pay cuts in order to solve some of the financial problems. Once again, the players, whose salaries eat up 60 percent of the league’s revenue, aren’t having it. In fact, the NFLPA is questioning the numbers that the league is releasing, pointing out what a great year the NFL is having, with record TV ratings and attendance down just one percent.

One thing that makes the NFL’s situation interesting is the lack of a salary cap in the final year of the deal.

Going by the numbers on USA Today, 21 of the league’s 32 teams spent over $100-million on players last season, with a 22nd team (the Vikings) spending just short of that mark. So, are things going to get wild and crazy next season?

Not in Steeltown.

The Pittsburgh Steelers say they’ll follow a self-imposed salary cap, because no one knows what will happen beyond this coming season.

Steelers director of football operations, Kevin Colbert, told ESPN the team doesn’t want to “have to do something to undo what you did” if the next CBA has a cap, which it probably will.

I’ve got a feeling some teams won’t be taking the “common sense” approach that the Steelers are preaching, but I can’t wait for one of those clubs to come out and say it!

As for the NHL’s upcoming CBA battle, I don’t even want to talk about it. The players gave up so much in the last agreement, and I’ve heard whispers that the owners will be looking for another salary rollback. Looks like it could get ugly again.

Could you imagine a 2011 without professional football, basketball or hockey? I think the Mayans predicted that…

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