I can imagine right about now you all are tired of the Labor posts. Rest assured, I am too and I’m desperately hoping there is some non-courtroom football to talk about soon. I’m optimistic especially in light of Tuesday’s new round of super-secret meetings.
So hopefully soon I can get started with breaking down some divisions.
However, I was thinking about the labor impasse (and how awesome the Alamo Drafthouse is) last night and it occurred to me there is one aspect of this battle we haven’t talked about.
While we’ve focused on labor vs management, gross vs net profit, players vs owners, there’s another battle being waged which to my mind is really what this CBA dispute is about.
I have long thought that this CBA issue comes down to Owners vs Owners more than Owners vs Players. Or I should clarify really: Big Market Owners vs Small Market Owners.
My feeling is the real reason the owners are trying to roll back the player percentage of the profit is that they are desperately trying to avoid dealing with a broken revenue sharing system.
Far easier to go after the players money since everyone knows the last CBA was heavily in the players’ favor.
The truth of the matter is that even if they do get a significant amount of money from the players, this problem will not go away, nor will this invisible war.
Here’s why it’s a problem.
Let’s jump into the TARDIS (or Way-Back Machine or DeLorean – whatever your flavor) and head back to the year 1961 when Pete Rozelle convinced the burgeoning league to forgo local TV revenue instead getting a national television deal which all teams split evenly (the guy who gave up most, by the way, was NY Giants owner Wellington Mara whose family has also been the classiest owners to their fans and staff during this labor dispute).
The following year, each team began the season with $332,000 which was a remarkably large sum for the time.
The revenue sharing has been expanded to include things like NFL Properties income. As time has gone on, the revenue sharing has had cracks appear in the armor, so the NFL and NFLPA decided to add a supplemental revenue sharing element into the 2006 CBA.
The NFL tried to get rid of the supplemental element last year but failed. So somewhere between eight and twelve of the lower rung teams shared money from a pool which was valued at about $220 million.
Small wonder Jerry Jones hates this whole set-up.
I mean, imagine you’re the Dallas Cowboys’ owner and you—who owns one of the most lucrative sports businesses on the planet—have to send portions of your revenue to Buffalo.
This would be why, in the 1990′s, Jerry Jones cut deals with Pepsi and Nike for the Cowboys which angered a league which already had deals in place with Coke and Players, Inc. While Jones and the league settled (after suing each other), the acrimony remains. Certainly the distance between the big and small market teams has widened.
Teams like Dallas or either New York franchise will make far more money on local revenue than a team like Jacksonville or Tampa Bay.
It’s the revenue sharing which helps the smaller market teams survive and with good management, flourish. It’s why we have a championship in Green Bay and New Orleans the last few years because otherwise perhaps those franchises don’t survive the lean years.
Beyond the odd smaller market team winning the Big Game, a good amount of the overall success of the whole NFL comes from that revenue sharing Jones’ and many (not all) of his fellow big market owners dislike.
I’m not sure exactly why the owners won’t fight this out among themselves. It could be that the bigger owners are worried they would look like mean misers. It could be that not all the big owners are on board. Mara probably isn’t. As of 2007 Rooney sure as hell isn’t.
It’s important to note that the Rooneys and Maras have been amongst the truest visionaries in the history of the league. Honestly, I’m sure they’d love to keep more money but long term, I believe they know that there has to be some form of revenue sharing to keep the league vital as a whole.
The question is, is it really worth it to support teams who cannot pull a profit themselves?
I might ask Saints and Packers fans. I’d question Bucs fans. I might even throw that question to the Bills fans. All have had varying levels of success as well as struggles and all are smaller market teams. Some are run better than others at the moment, but all have benefited from the revenue sharing which allowed them to survive long enough to have that success.
It’s completely understandable that the bigger teams—whose jersey sales and TV ratings bring in the majority of the money—want to get more of what they are ostensibly earning for everyone else.
I wonder if they realize that the short term financial gains might be outweighed by the long term impact of having less competitive balance.
Without revenue sharing it’s likely we’d have far less parity and a few dominant large market teams – like we have Major League Baseball. In baseball, if you don’t spend huge amounts of money, you have nearly no chance of winning a championship.
Thinking I’m just hating on baseball? Check these numbers out.
Here are the World Series Champions and their payrolls for last ten years.
2010 – SF Giants – 10th in league with 97.8 mil payroll
2009 – Yankees – 1st – 200+ mil
2008 – Phillies – 12th – 98.2 mil
2007 – Red Sox – 2nd – 143 mil
2006 – Cards – 11th – 88.8 mil
2005 – White Sox – 13th – 75.2 mil
2004 – Red Sox – 2nd – 125 mil
2003 – Marlins 25th – 49 mil
2002 – Angels – 15th – 61.7 mil
2001 – Arizona Diamondbacks – 8th – 81.2 mil
2000 – Yankees – 1st – 92.5 mil
I bolded the 2003 World Champion Marlins because they are the exception, the only team outside the top 15 payrolls to win a Championship.
So that’s one winner out of ten, or more importantly, one out of thirty.
You might say, ‘Andrew, surely there have been more small payroll teams who have at least played in the World Series but didn’t win…’.
So here’s the losers bracket:
2010 – Texas – 13th – 92.2 mil
2009 – Phillies – 7th - 113 mil
2008 – Tampa – 29th – 43.8 mil
2007 – Colorado – 25th – 54.4 mil
2006 – Detroit – 14th – 82.6 mil
2005 – Astros – 12th – 76.7 mil
2004 – Cards – 11th – 75.6 mil
2003 – Yankees- 1st – 152 mil
2002 – Giants – 10th – 78.2 mil
2001 – Yankees – 1st – 109 mil
2000 – Mets – 6th – 79.5 mil
Again, bolded the teams from the lower half of the payroll world. Just two out of ten. Which makes the total of three out of twenty small payroll teams have seen the World Series or three out of thirty leaguewide.
That’s what? Ten percent? Pretty lousy if you ask me.
There are also some consistent names on the list and some consistent names absent. Boston, the Yanks and the Phillies are in the World Series frequently. Pittsburgh? The Washington Nationals? Nowhere to be seen.
It’s not an absolute formula; trust me, the Mets will tell you money doesn’t buy you a ring. You need good management.
However, money makes a big difference if you aren’t inept.
I find it a disturbing trend in baseball. How much does it suck to be a Pirates fan who knows that year in and year out they have almost no shot at a title?
How much would it suck to start the football season the same way, every year?
This afternoon we’ll bring it back to football, the NFL and how this could affect both.