Make a deal

TY PILSON -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:13 AM ET

When you look at the rhetoric that surrounds sporting labour disputes these days, one thing is clear: The fans are the real losers.

OK, and maybe the lowly scribes who get to watch it and write about it for a living.

In Calgary, Flames faithful are left to rave and rant about the ongoing NHL lockout just months after the team fell one game short of a Stanley Cup victory.

Now, sports fans in Calgary may get a double dose of bad news, as the National Lacrosse League has threatened to cancel its upcoming season if it can't work out a new collective bargaining agreement with the Professional Lacrosse Players' Association by 10 p.m. MDT tonight.

Roughnecks owner Brad Banister said the team will fold if the season is scrapped.

This, after the Riggers won their first NLL championship in May in only their third season.

Never mind the fact the National Lacrosse League and many of its teams might go belly up.

Never mind even if the league survives, the fans and credibility it could lose might never return.

Never mind the fact it stands to profit with the NHL out of the way for the time being.

Never mind the fact fans have had enough of these all-too-frequent sandbox brouhahas.

The NLL and PLPA agree teams are losing $300,000 US a season and still the league offers raises and more revenue sharing with the players. Seems like a no-brainer.

The league is full of haves, have-nots and teams that have folded, so the union wants revenue sharing between squads to make the NLL more economically viable and attractive to television. Also seems like a no-brainer.

Both sides make some good points. Yet keeping score does nothing to advance the cause.

It merely leads to an us-and-them mentality that ultimately poisons most of these contract negotiations.

When it comes to the NLL and the PLPA, the biggest problem is mistrust between the two sides.

In the past, owners have made some mistakes and created bad blood. Some players weren't paid on time and had to fight for what was owed them.

That anger still lingers but serves little use when it comes to taking a step forward.

The bottom line is the players want a slightly better deal than they're being offered and the league feels its latest proposal is good enough.

The one thing on which both sides should be able to agree is if the league has to cancel the season, the NLL and the players will lose -- and lose big.

Judging by their conduct, that doesn't seem to faze either side.

Sure the players are part time and only make an average of $13,000 US but, last time I looked, that's not chump change to play a game you love for a few months a year.

As for the owners, they have millions invested in their teams.

Common sense says the two sides have to come up with a deal.

It's a no-brainer, right?

The NLL wants a more profitable league and the players want to make more.

If the league goes bankrupt, both are outta luck.

At least when it comes to the monetary end of it.

Ultimately, the biggest losers will be the fans.

Always are, always will be.

See a pattern here?


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