There are, at minimum, two sides to a dispute. In the business of sports the sides can get such tunnel vision, they lose sight of the extent their dispute affects the local business community.
Take for instance the current National Basketball Association (NBA) lockout. The owners and players are at odds on how to resolve their differences on a new collective bargaining agreement. There is no doubt, as with most labor disputes, the issues are complicated. The differences over money distribution, player movement, player compensation, length of contracts, and other financial concerns are of importance to the owners and players. Their perspectives on how to approach a resolution to these differences are often like night and day, but they are not the only group of people, or businesses, who are affected by this dispute and lockout.
The lockout and resulting cancellation of games has had a trickle-down effect on South Florida businesses that rely on the Miami HEAT, with the biggest impact on businesses in the area of the arena. There have already been pay cuts, layoffs, and non-hiring resulting from the lockout. Businesses large and small have been affected.
As a small sample, it has been reported:
· Atlas Embroidery & Screen Printing of Fort Lauderdale could lose hundreds of thousands in revenue if the entire NBA season is cancelled,
· A Place for Tickets in Hollywood could lose up to 20% of its business,
· TransMiami.com, a transportation company, is expected to lose at least $3,000 in revenue per week from game cancellations,
· Los Ranchos Steakhouse Restaurant at Bayside is losing approximately $12,000 on each HEAT home game not played,
· Four Seasons Hotel could lose approximately half-a-million dollars of HEAT basketball related revenues if the entire NBA season is cancelled and,
· Tickets of America in Miami could lose up to two million dollars if the entire NBA season is cancelled.
There are three ways to view the negotiation tactics between disputing parties; win/lose, compromise, and win/win. In win/lose, the expectation is – if they win we lose. In compromise, the expectation is – we will give up something if you give up something of equal or greater value. With strong-willed business owners and strong-willed professional athletes, it does not bode well for the tactics of win/lose or compromise to succeed. In win/win, the expectation becomes – neither of us may get exactly what we want but let’s find ways where we both can win.
The NBA owners and players should take a cue from the recent dispute resolution involving the National Football League (NFL). The NFL owners and players ultimately realized that a win/win for themselves and their respective communities was more important than remaining defiant to appease their own constituents.
The fact there is a federal mediator who is facilitating the negotiation process between the owners and players is a good thing, but there has been talk of decertification of the players union and ultimatums from the owners. This could only lead to the dispute moving from negotiations under the collective bargaining agreement to litigation through court in an antitrust lawsuit. That would surely prolong the time involved in reaching a resolution and probably result in the loss of the entire season.
Both owners and players are on a collision course that will lead to cancellation of the entire season. NBA teams would suffer financially for years to come. NBA cities, especially South Florida which has multiple communities and businesses tied economically to the fortunes of the HEAT (and other local professional teams), would take a big financial hit. Let’s hope that win/win prevails in time to salvage the season and salvage local businesses.
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