NLL - Sunday, October 21st 2007 - By, Jamey Long - SimplyLacrosse.com
The National Lacrosse League (NLL) took a major step backwards this week when it announced on Tuesday that it had cancelled the 2008 season when owners and the Professional Lacrosse Players Association (PLPA) could not come to an agreement on a new contract. The league announced that the entire season would be scrapped, and that all teams should release their dates for the venues where the games were to be played. Because of that fact, the league reinforced that there would be no season despite Union claims that the season could still be salvaged. Reports coming in around the country from those cities who have teams is mixed. I have read reports that claim that if all of the players were allowed to vote, which apparently they were not, they would not side with their union, and would vote instead to play. Other reports claim that the union is strong in its stance, and the players are unified. The owners and the league seem strong in their resolve and insistence that financially the league is not strong enough to support the Unions demands long term.
Are you kidding me? Come on Guys! Get it together! Unlike the main stream sports in America and Canada you guys can not afford to alienate: venues, fans, networks, sponsors, or anyone for that matter. People are not going to sympathize with either of your positions and quite frankly, there are just way too many options for people to invest their hard earned time and money to really care one way or the other for very long. If you guys can't figure out how to do this, they will go elsewhere and spend their money with someone else.
In my opinion this is the result of extremely narrow minded leadership primarily on the side of the union. The union is trying to help the players realize some expanded level of free agency, and the owners are rightly terrified of spiraling salaries and costs that would most definitely cripple the NLL if allowed to proceed. If the Union is granted their way the likely outcome will be that a few players will benefit short term from the change, and then they all can take their free agent money and buy some shovels and dig a grave for this fragile league that is trying so hard to make it in a significant way.
The Union wants to model their future after Major League baseball. Well of course they do. The MLB deal is a terrible deal for MLB, because it is extremely lopsided toward the players. Uncontrolled salary increases continue unchecked. If the PLPA really cares about the health of our sport and the health of our players long term they should want to model themselves after the most successful league of our time which is the NFL, who has controlled salaries, and revenue sharing, not Major League Baseballs free agency mess. Major League Baseball has had ongoing labor issues too, trying to contain the free agent pandora that is already out. And besides this is not MLB or the NFL or even the NHL with their millions/billions of dollars. This is the NLL - professional indoor lacrosse, and with leadership like that which is being displayed, all it will ever be is a minor sport among minor league sports.
The only concern the NLL and the players should have at this point is the long term health of the league. If the league fails over player union short sightedness, the players will have to go back to playing for free.
If the NLL is ever going to make it big, sacrifices have to be made to grow the sport. Locking the doors and canceling this season is a disaster! I can't believe that the two sides could not sit down and work this out before we got to this point. It does not bode well for the long term health of the league. NLL Players, fire your Union leadership quickly, and go play lacrosse for money, before nobody cares and you are playing for free.
Owners, Give the players some kind of insurances that as the league grows they will share in that growth. If a major TV deal can be made, or if the league has major growth in the next 5-10 years that the players are not going to be left out of that windfall. And please for the sake of us all who love this sport. If there is a chance that the season can be salvaged, act like men, swallow your prides and make it happen, before it is too late. Take the increased negative publicity, and parley it into increased exposure and interest by getting this thing fixed quickly. If not, this time next year you all may be digging your own graves. Or at the minimum the size of the pie you have to split up will surely be smaller.
Jamey Long - SimplyLacrosse.com
(The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author)
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