Football fans won't be the only ones interested in the National Football League this season. Congress is paying close attention to the league's impending labor dispute with the NFL Player's Association.
The NFL and the NFLPA have continued to increase their lobbying presence over the past few years. Now that it appears Congress may get involved it seems to be money well spent.
Just one problem: the owners and NFL executives have out spent the players when it comes to campaign contributions. Owners, NFL executives and top employees make up 79% of those contributions while NFL players make up a meager 9% of the contributions.
The NFLPA has been strong since the early '90s with players receiving no less than 50% of league revenues. That number was only around 30% to 40% in the '70s and '80s. Both the NFL and the NFLPA prospered under the 1993 collective bargaining agreement.
Owners are now arguing that the 50% plus revenue going to the players is too much. The owners claim that they need more of the overall revenue in order to grow the league. Team owners feel that under the current labor agreement, there is little incentive for them to re-invest in the game.
NFL players claim that the owners have prospered under the current labor agreement. In 2009 the NFL did generate more than $8 billion in total revenue.
If there is a lock-out next season and Congress chooses to get involved, which is likely due to U.S. antitrust laws, those who have the most political pull will be at an advantage.
Since owners have spent so much on lobbying and contributing to political parties who share their same viewpoint, it appears they would have the upper-hand in any potential labor dispute.
If it comes down to legal-wrangling it will be a sad day for fans of professional football. Under the current revenue sharing agreement, both sides have made a ton of money and appear to have forgotten about the fans who generated the revenue in the first place.
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