Lockout Aftermath: 5 Commandments of CBA Negotiations
We can rejoice! Football is back! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Now that it is all over, let's take what we have learned from it and apply some new commandments to Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiating proceedings. These commandments can be applied to all CBA negotiations throughout the sports world.
Aside from the current negotiating proceedings with the National Basketball Association, these commandments can be applied to the upcoming Major League Baseball and National Hockey League negotiations (both CBAs expire in 2012). My fingers are crossed in hopes those involved in the MLB and the NHL negotiations were watching the National Football League fiasco and were taking notes.
I have decided to take one for the team and come up with a few commandments everyone can apply.
1. Thou Shalt Make the Negotiations as Calm as Possible
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Ray Lewis is not a very calm guy. He would not be allowed near these negotiations.
He is, however, the example of what not to do. If the negotiations become like Ray Lewis pretty much promising he would go on a crime spree if there was no football, then we have a problem and a violation of the first commandment.
The negotiations need to be calm and not turn into the apocalypse.
2. Negotiations Shall Take Place on a Remote Island
Look how calm and happy Ray Lewis is here. We can assume he's in Hawaii for two reasons: 1) the tropical plant behind him and 2) his shirt.
While Ray Lewis is still not allowed anywhere near the negotiating process for any league, he provides a visual for a reason behind this commandment. People get more done when calm and relaxed. Stress can wear a person down. Trust me, I'm in law school. I'm 24 going on 95.
That being said, the negotiations should take place on a remote island for its calming atmosphere. Also, there would be a lack of media presence. Which leads me to #3...
3. Thou Shalt Avoid the Media
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Man, DeMaurice Smith does not look too happy right there. To be honest, I would be scared of all those microphones. Yet, those were a pretty familiar sight for Mr. Smith. There were times I thought he spent more time in front of microphones and the media than in a negotiating room trying to hash out a CBA. Wow, I was more bitter about that than I thought.
This commandment is necessary in order to better facilitate a quick and easy negotiation process. Who would really want their job scrutinized by the media on a daily basis? Having been in simulated negotiations in school, nothing really gets done in a day, especially with a negotiation as large as this. Was there really a need for daily press conferences? I think not.
Therefore, the media (and apologies to Bleacher Report) should stay out of the negotiating process. Hence, the remote island from the previous commandment.
4. Negotiators Shall Be More Like Baseball Umpires
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The commandment should probably be amended to be: "Negotiators Shall Be More Like What Baseball Umpires Should Be."
This is because the best umpires are never noticed. They have fair strike zones, make the right calls, and move through the game seamlessly. The best umpires do not miss a clear tag three feet from home plate at two in the morning because they want to go home after 19 innings. See Pittsburgh Pirates v. Atlanta Braves.
Negotiators and attorneys involved in CBA negotiations should strive to be the same. I should not know their names. I should not know what they look like. I should not be able to recognize them on the street.
If I run into DeMaurice Smith on the street, I will be begging to ask him: "Man, what took so long?"
Instead, the ideal reaction to CBA negotiations should be watching a short story on ESPN about how the CBA came together smoothly and going "Right on."
I do not need to know who negotiated the deal. I do not need to know who was involved. All I need to know is that it got done.
5. Negotiators Shall Not Have a Personal Interest in the Outcome
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This final commandment is perhaps the most important.
A good negotiator (or good attorney acting as a negotiator) can argue for his or her client's side without having a personal interest in the outcome. In fact, they can do so without personally caring about the subject matter of the negotiation at all.
When people are personally involved, emotions get the better of them. This leads to a lot of yelling, name-calling, stubborn decisions (or lack thereof) and nothing getting done.
Therefore, there should only be two negotiators (at maximum, four) and they should be as impartial as possible. They can be locked in a room on a remote island, away from the prying eyes of the media and calmly and swiftly execute the negotiations for a new CBA.
Sports world, you're welcome.