At a time when the top football league that plays on a 100-yard field is looking for replacement officials, the top football league that plays on a 50-yard field is looking for replacement players.
Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com reports that the Arena Football League has commenced the process of preparing to lock out and supplant players who have been operating without a labor deal — and as a result constantly holding over the AFL’s head the possibility of going on strike. (Last Friday night, members of the Cleveland Gladiators did, which wiped out their game against the Pittsburgh Power.)
Marvez has obtained an email from the head coach of the Jacksonville Sharks, asking agents for “qualified players” who are interested in playing, because “the possibility of a lockout exists in the near future.”
It’s about time. The players, with the ability to walk out whenever they feel like it, have the upper hand because the AFL isn’t able to quickly put together competent replacements. And with the players engaging in selective walkouts, an “open letter” recently sent by the AFL to anyone who was paying attention (hardly anyone was) explained that NFL Network has moved the weekly live broadcast from Friday night to a tape-delay at 3:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, so that an actual or threatened strike won’t disrupt the programming. (Of course, it could still disrupt the tape-delayed programming, unless NFLN sends a crew to every Friday night game.)
Here’s the simple reality, from the league’s perspective. The supply of men who want to play football outnumbers the demand for their services. So with simple planning and effort, the AFL will be able to replace the current players.
Here’s the simple reality, from the player’s perspective. The AFL apparently has been treating them like something a pet may drop in the middle of the living room. And not from its mouth.
In the open-letter-that-no-one-opened, which was circulated by the AFL on Tuesday, the league outlines the terms of its latest proposal. As to housing, players will no longer be required to rent from the teams they play for. Instead, the players will be able to choose and pay for their own housing. (Gee, thanks.)
Also, when a player is traded, he won’t be required to pay for his travel expenses to his new city. (“Hey, big spender!“)
If that’s the attitude the AFL has toward its players, maybe it won’t be able to find replacements. And maybe it shouldn’t be in business at all.
UPDATE 11:30 p.m. ET: Actually, the AFL currently provides free housing to players. So under the new deal players are on their own — or they can rent housing from the teams. So how is the new deal better?