Much of the rhetoric from the CFLPA involves their wanting revenue sharing back, something they gave up in the last CBA. The CFLPA made a critical negotiation error last time of giving up something that they may want back some day down the road. They argue that as the league has since signed a new and greater broadcasting agreement with TSN, revenue sharing should return. There’s also some token blather about player safety and a maximum number of days they have to practice in full padding (really, is practicing in their equipment a problem for a delicate little pro-athletes?). And, of course, they say if their demand are not met, they’ll strike.
Blah blah blah… in essence that’s the publicly aired stance from the CFLPA. And really, pay no attention to it… there most certainly will not be a strike in the CFL to start this season.
The CFL is a cute little football league in Canada with most of the revenue coming from the gate and stadium concessions. With the exception of Saskatchewan (where there is a general lack of notable entertainment given the small sizes of its cities/towns so people become obsessed with the Roughriders), football is only #2 or #3 in popularity in Canada depending on the region. Should there be a strike, an overwhelming majority of Canadians – even those who attend several CFL games a year (such as Yours Truly) – will collectively shrug their shoulders. Most CFL fans are rather passive in their fandemonium. They will not be assembling into mobs with torches and pitchforks, screaming at the owners to give the players what they want. The CFLPA’s support is essentially lacking, and they will not win the battle of public (fan) opinion.
However, the main reason why there will not be a CFL strike is that most all the players will vote to ratify whatever CBA is put before them, no matter how one-sided it is towards the owners.
Consider the typical American player who is playing in the CFL. Now too old for college ball, he either was not good enough to so much as crack a practice roster of an NFL team, or he had an extremely brief stint in the NFL, got cut, no other NFL team wants him, so he’s up here in Canada to make a few bucks. Probably never really gave a thought (or even heard of) the CFL until his agent told him. For someone who considers themselves an athlete, playing a few more years of football beats selling stereos in Best Buy or throwing tires around in a scrap yard in Arkansas. If he is lucky, he will have maybe three years to make some money here in Canada before he’s done.
And on the matter of making a few bucks in Canada before it is all over for his pro-football career, relatively speaking, it is not huge bucks either. The average CFL player salary is about $80,000. That’s Canadian dollars, so for those American players who live ‘down south,’ it becomes relatively less. While $80k a year is certainly good money, if that was your annual income and then you had to suddenly go a year without making any money, it would be financially difficult and one would likely have to get that job at the junk yard or wherever. And let us not forget, many of these players have young children and expensive hobbies to support.
The NHL players were able to easily strike… if you made a million (or more likely, millions) of dollars in 2012, you could comfortably spend 2013 on golf courses and lounging at the side of pools without needing a new income source.
In short, the CFL players have a choice: sign on the dotted line for a CBA that is favourable to the owners, make a decent income and extend their pro career by a year or two, or get those resumes ready as McDonalds is always hiring!
The Midtown Troll