I am jumping on the train to end the lockout.
Around 12 months ago Memphis was celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Grizzlies in Memphis and the tremendous economic impact the team has had on the city.It was been a great achievement both emotionally and economically for the city. Memphis had become a major league sports city.
Now Memphis has to face the harsh reality of what it means to be a major league sports city. The NBA owners have locked out the players after their collective bargaining agreement expired on July 1. This is something big league sports cities have to deal with in the modern sports era.
Now I am not supporting the players. I am not supporting the owners. Frankly both sides have valid points and both sides have acted poorly in the negotiations. I amnot supporting either side and my onlyhope is for a speedy conclusion to the lockout.
I am supporting the Memphis community. This lockout will affect Heisley’s wallet as well as Rudy Gay’s but neither will feel the impact as much as the people who’s careers in Memphis are based on servicing the team. A lot of people associated with the Grizzlies (but not employed by the Grizzlies) suddenly find themselvesfacing the prospect of nopaychecks this fall. How many? Well the NFL Union estimated that a lockout of NFL games would cost the communities those teams are located in $160 million in local spending and over 3,000 jobs for a lost season. The NFL season lasts 17 games not counting pre-season.
The NBAplays 82 games.
Younger Associates released an Economic Impact of The Memphis Grizzlies and the FedEx Forum on Memphis and Shelby County report less than a year ago. They estimated the economic impact of the Grizzlies to be $223 million annually. The number of jobs related to the Grizzlies and FedEx Forum could be as high as 1,534. Tax revenues lost by the city could be as high as $5.3 million.
That’s what the city will lose while the NBA players and owners determine how to make the business more profitable for themselves.
Unfortunately the community doesn’t participate in negotiations. The league and its union are governed by National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).According to the act, Congress enacted the NLRA to protect the employees and employers rights and to encourage collective bargaining.The NLRA works well too for businesses like automobiles and the like. The consumers have alternatives after all if the union andemployers can’t agree onsalaries. If Ford goes on strike the consumer can always bya car made by GeneralMotors for instance.
What can the consumer in Memphis doto replace the loss of the Memphis Grizzlies? Go see a movie?Therereallyaren’t a lot of options. Professional Sportsare more than just an business.It is moreof a “unique public good” as George Yorgakaros stated in his article in the New York Times yesterday. As such a unique public good the league’s labor relations should fall under the guidance of the Railway Labor Act (RLA)andnot the NLRA because “the real brunt of the damage is felt by parties not at the table: communities, associated or secondary industries and, of course, the fans.”
What is the RLA?A fair question and one I asked myself when I read the article. The RLA governs the Railway and Airlines industry sets rules for work stoppages and they aren’t easy to reach. the rules are laid outfor negotiation and mediation prior to a strike being allowed. In other words, it sets a much higher standard on what can happen prior to a strike.
The reason for this is simple. It is in the communitie’s and the nation’s best interest not to have strikes. The economic burden istoo great forsociety if the railroadsor airlines shut down. Does the NBA fall into that high a standard? I don’t know but I do know that the city of Memphis can ill afford a $5.3 milliondrop in tax revenues right now. I do know the city can ill afford to have 1.534 peoplelooking for work.Thiswill put tremendous hardship on our society.
I don’t know what needs to be done to make thishappen. Probably an act of congress and as we have seen over the last fewweeks, getting this congress to do anything isdamn near impossible but that is no reason to not start the discussion.
Consider me one person who supports jumping on the train with the NBA.