Super Bowl 2011: NFL, Players Association Hold Summit On Eve of Super Bowl XLV
Super Bowl 2011 continued to have the game itself be overshadowed by the ongoing labor negotiations between the league owners and the players' union, as the two sides held a formal meeting for two hours on Saturday to discuss a new labor deal. This was the first time the leaders of each side have sat down for a formal meeting since November, and it resulted in a joint statement that described a plan to increase the face-to-face negotiations between each side in the hopes of avoiding a dreaded NFL work stoppage.
It's unclear if any progress was made towards actually hammering out a new collective bargaining agreement before the current one expires on March 4th. But it is clear that the two sides are at least planning to talk and talk more often, as it was announced that two more negotiating sessions are scheduled for next week.
The major issues at the heart of the conflict between the owners and the players continues to be how to split up the NFL's exorbitant revenues, with the players requesting a bigger piece of the pie and the owners believing they already give enough away to the guys that drive the product on the field. There's also the owners' idea to expand the regular season to 18 games, as well as the players' desire for extended health benefits for retirees.
While the two sides don't appear to be any closer to making a deal, commissioner Roger Goodell has adamantly stated that the players and owners must come to an agreement and avoid a dreaded work stoppage.
Of course the commissioner wants to avoid a stoppage, because the NFL is still at the top of the American sports heap. They get the biggest TV ratings, pull in the highest revenues and are generally the most profitable sports league in the country. Goodell represents the owners and it won't help his standing if he's unable to keep dollars floating into his owners' pockets throughout all of 2011.
For the players, they seem to fundamentally disagree with a number of the owners' demands, an this clearly seems like a recipe for disaster. The hope for fans would seem to be that this uptick in interaction between the two sides will ultimately let them talk out their differences and find a common ground.
Considering the lost revenues and salaries possible for both owners and players, it behooves each side to make a deal. But each side is a business in the end, and are responsible for making the best business decisions for themselves, not the fans, as unfortunate as that may be. We obviously want to be able to watch the NFL in 2011, but for now it's very much up in the air.
One game we know will be taking place is Super Bowl XLV thankfully, so hopefully everyone can absorb the pending problems of the players' union and owners' strife and move on to the celebration that should be the league's showcase.
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