With due deference to top leadership, a Players’ Association for the LFL is more than right, it is the moral thing to do. While the league has every right to run its operations as it sees fit, there is something to be said for compromise. Issues such as morale and player safety must be taken into account. As global expansion is in progress, the image of the league expands too.
In reality, the LFL truly has the potential to become a global sports entertainment empire in the same vein as WWE or UFC. The women of the LFL could easily become the most famous female athletes in the world. From a business point of view, the players are in effect like raw material, which helps to create a finished, packaged product that fans will want. If that material is not handled properly though, it becomes waste.
At this point, the reality is that if the LFL wants to grow into a worldwide sporting venture, there must be a confidence that comes along with it from potential players and fans. With the advent of social media, bad publicity is truly worse than no publicity at all.
The cost of doing things right will always outweigh the cost of having to pay for legal action and the potentially bad publicity that emanates from it. Considering that quarterbacks handle the lion’s share of the offensive attack, how devastating would it be if stars like Nikki Johnson, Heather Furr or Angela Rypien would be paralyzed from a hit? What were to happen if there was a fatality on the field? The negative press would not only destroy the league but legal costs and possible incarceration would decimate what is a remarkable sporting product.
While it is understandable that a players association may be seen by seen as undermining any league’s authority, the reality is that the competition for the fans sporting dollar is intense. As such, player loyalty must be taken into consideration.
All one need do is reflect on the Springfield Indians hockey team and Eddie Shore. Years of mistreatment on the players not only resulted in a revolt but the involvement of lawyer (and future hockey czar) Alan Eagleson. The result was that Shore had to relinquish his authority on the team, eventually leasing the rights to the team to the Los Angeles Kings. Could one imagine if the players were to do something similar by communicating with an association such as the Women’s Sports Foundation for example? The media would definitely show sympathy for the players.
Everyone has worked so hard to make the LFL a successful enterprise that no one wants to see it crumble. Considering it is on the cusp of emerging into a cultural phenomenon, it is time to build bridges rather than burn them. With the Hall of Fame being a remarkable first step in recognizing the players’ efforts, the players deserve to see this as a springboard towards better things. It is not about telling the league what to do; it is about ensuring that all parties are protected. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.