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Like OPEC, NFL Owners a Cartel of Rich Seeking Even More, Plus New Players’ Website

Just what is behind the National Football League (NFL) owners’ lockout of the players this past weekend when talks for a new collective bargaining agreement broke off? James Surowiecki of The New Yorker writes in this week’s edition:

It’s about very rich businessmen thinking that they should be even richer.

He says that “With the possible exception of the members of OPEC, N.F.L. owners have pretty much the coziest business arrangement imaginable”

They’re effectively members of a cartel—able to limit competition, enhance bargaining power, and hold down costs. Instead of competing against each other for TV money, the owners share it, reducing risk and guaranteeing steady revenue regardless of how well they run their teams. The result of all this was nicely summed up by Richard Walden, head of sports finance at JPMorgan Chase, who said, “I’ve never seen an N.F.L. team lose money.”

Surowiecki also notes the owners are far more socialist than free market capitalists

N.F.L. owners have never liked the idea of a free labor market, which might cost them more and also threaten the league’s competitive balance… They have created a socialist paradise for themselves that happens to bring with it capitalist-size profits.

Read the entire article here.

Also, if you are looking for the latest news on the NFL’s  lockout of the players, (which cuts off the players’ and their families’  health insurance and prevents them from practicing) visit www.nfllockout.com. When the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) renounced its status as a union in order to take legal action against the owners’ lockout, nfllockout.com replaced the NFLPA website.

You can read the full transcript of yesterday’s national conference call by player leaders, including Kevin Mawa who told reporters:

If you look at every one of their moves for the last two years, from opting out of the last year of the CBA back in the fall of 2008, to the way that they negotiated the TV deals to basically put money in their pockets as a lockout fund.
Everything that they’ve done has been a strategy for a lockout.

You can also read requests from the NFLPA to owners seeking financial information to back the owners’ claims that they are losing money and need to cut players’ pay $1 billion. The owners refused.

There is also a listing of the owners’ final demands that they characterized as a meet-in-the middle compromise offer. But in fact was little different from their long-standing give-back demands.

For another take on the lockout and the owners’ absurd attempt to align themselves with the struggle by the worker’s Wisconsin, check out The Nation’s Dave Zinn’s column (click here) who writes the owners’ statement “took the chutzpah scale to new, unimagined heights.”

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