T&F Athletes To Unionize


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T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby guru » Fri Sep 21, 2012 2:12 pm

Announced today. About damn time.

http://espn.go.com/olympics/trackandfie ... unionizing

IF they're truly united on this - and it seems they are - $#!T$ about to get real for the alphabet soup fatcats.
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby dl » Fri Sep 21, 2012 2:41 pm

I'm all in favor of athletes organizing, but, while I'm no labor expert, it seems to me that unions work best when there's one group with whom they negotiate. Who will that be in this instance?
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby Conor Dary » Fri Sep 21, 2012 2:45 pm

Woody Guthrie would have loved it.

    There once was a union maid, she never was afraid
    Of goons and ginks and company finks and the deputy sheriffs who made the raid.
    She went to the union hall when a meeting it was called,
    And when the Legion boys come 'round
    She always stood her ground.

    Oh, you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union,
    I'm sticking to the union, I'm sticking to the union.
    Oh, you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union,
    I'm sticking to the union 'til the day I die.
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby guru » Fri Sep 21, 2012 2:50 pm

dl wrote:.... it seems to me that unions work best when there's one group with whom they negotiate. Who will that be in this instance?



Considering the main concern seems to be the restrictive sponsorship issue, then certainly the IAAF, especially with a WC next year.
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby bad hammy » Fri Sep 21, 2012 3:04 pm

Unionizing athletes is the only way that T&Fs 99%ers are ever going to have a chance of a livable income via the sport. The trick is to make sure the 1% is with them, and this looks like a good start.

Seems like Nick Symmonds was on the right track . . .
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby Spickard » Fri Sep 21, 2012 3:20 pm

Yohan Blake? USAIN BOLT???? I thought this was about selfish, sniveling American athletes? :wink:
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby MJR » Fri Sep 21, 2012 3:43 pm

If they can get the Kenyan & Ethiopian distance runners signed & committed, the game is over for the IAAF and IOC on the sponsorship/slavery issue.
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby rsb2 » Fri Sep 21, 2012 4:11 pm

They are all just a bunch of journeymen, who cares?
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby mcgato » Fri Sep 21, 2012 4:53 pm

I tend to agree with Sanya that this should have happened 20 years ago. Actually more than 20 years ago. In tennis and golf, the players seem to be pretty much in control of the product. Maybe not in control, but they have great power in the goings on of the tours. In track, the IAAF seems to be in control of the product. The athletes seem to be beholden to whatever the IAAF decides. And the IOC.

I'm hopeful, but there are so many issues out there that it is going to be wading through a minefield.
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby odelltrclan » Fri Sep 21, 2012 5:20 pm

Actually, I think this is a terrible idea. You have to have labor in high demand and a thriving market. Track interest is waning and this is only going to make things worse. Stick a fork in the sport as a profession. It will soon be the way of the dinosaur with this.
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby GDAWG » Fri Sep 21, 2012 8:09 pm

The international athletes joining the Track and Field Athletes Association:

http://trackandfieldathletesassociation ... es-global/

Including some big names like Blake, Bolt, SAFP, Rudisha and Sanchez.
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby 18.99s » Fri Sep 21, 2012 8:42 pm

odelltrclan wrote:Actually, I think this is a terrible idea. You have to have labor in high demand and a thriving market. Track interest is waning and this is only going to make things worse. Stick a fork in the sport as a profession. It will soon be the way of the dinosaur with this.

It depends what they're asking for.

If they demand more prize money and appearance fees, they'll have a problem.

However if they only want to be allowed to wear an extra logo or two at meets, and be allowed to promote their sponsors during the Olympics via social media, they might get somewhere. And without triggering any sky-is-falling scenarios.
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby 18.99s » Fri Sep 21, 2012 8:46 pm

Since when did Lalova become Italian?
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby gh » Fri Sep 21, 2012 9:10 pm

That 8.0 shaker on the Richter scale just registered in Italy was Primo Nebiolo turning over in his grave.

I remember a press conference from the early '90s when the IAAF announced some new bit of benevolence towards the athletes and somebody in the room innocently asked, "Does this mean that the athletes will form a union?"

I never saw him more apoplectic. He thundered back (and I obviously paraphrase after all these years), "There will NEVER be a union for athletes! NEVER! We are the IAAF and we are in charge."

The subject was pursued no farther.
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby vip » Fri Sep 21, 2012 9:43 pm

I'm all for athletes getting what they can and while they can get it. But I don't understand why they're trying to get the public behind their cause. What exactly is in it for us? I'm not trying to be a wise guy, but will SRR and Symmonds join me in my next fight to get a raise?

Also, nothing will happen unless Nike approves, since we all know the swoosh runs the sport.
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby EME1980 » Fri Sep 21, 2012 10:34 pm

18.99s wrote:Since when did Lalova become Italian?


She married Simone Collio, the Italian sprinter recently. I guess she has taken Italian citizenship if that list is correct.
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby j-a-m » Fri Sep 21, 2012 10:40 pm

Don't even know where to start commenting on this nonsense.

To begin with, does the track & field athletes association website say that they're a union (as opposed to an association)? Does it even say that anywhere?
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby Quick Silver » Sat Sep 22, 2012 2:40 am

Most track and field careers are too short for this to work very well.

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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby MJR » Sat Sep 22, 2012 3:00 am

Quick Silver wrote:Most track and field careers are too short for this to work very well.

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The average NFL career is 4 years and it works fine for them.
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby Rye Catcher » Sat Sep 22, 2012 3:18 am

Big mistake. This means tenure will be more important than performance, just like teachers. It means we will be seeing geezers hanging in there just because they have tenure. Oh how fun.
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby j-a-m » Sat Sep 22, 2012 3:56 am

Rye Catcher wrote:Big mistake. This means tenure will be more important than performance, just like teachers. It means we will be seeing geezers hanging in there just because they have tenure. Oh how fun.

Agreed with respect to unionizing. Still not though if that's what's happening, or if it's just a sensationalist espn.com headline.
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby Pego » Sat Sep 22, 2012 3:57 am

People of the same profession formed associations since the time immemorial. It used to be called guild, now it is called unions. Powers-that-be don't like it as they never liked it for obvious reasons.
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby j-a-m » Sat Sep 22, 2012 4:02 am

Pego wrote:People of the same profession formed associations since the time immemorial. It used to be called guild, now it is called unions.

And since time immemorial the main purpose of guilds/unions has been to discriminate against outsiders/competitors.
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby Mighty Favog » Sat Sep 22, 2012 4:59 am

Mmmm...I sense some comments that should belong in the Free Speech forum. I'll not pile on here, even though I'm very much on one side of the argument.

In terms of what the organization can do, besides advocate for changes in advertising restrictions, I could see it operating like tennis' ATP. One of the first things that organization worked on was a meaningful rankings system so that entry into tournaments was based more on accomplishments and less on connections and other such things. We discussed such an issue at length with regard to the Diamond League.
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby mump boy » Sat Sep 22, 2012 5:18 am

I'm all for unions, i'm practically a communist. What i'm not a fan of is grandstanding, self aggrandising athletes, picking inopportune moments to do the dirty work of their billion dollar corporate paymasters

A properly run, professional union for any workers can only be a good thing but if they think they are doing themselves any favours with this nonsense sponsorship thing, they are mistaken
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby j-a-m » Sat Sep 22, 2012 5:21 am

GDAWG wrote:The international athletes joining the Track and Field Athletes Association:

http://trackandfieldathletesassociation ... es-global/

Including some big names like Blake, Bolt, SAFP, Rudisha and Sanchez.

That seems to be the official announcement. And all I get from that is that some international athletes have joined an athletes association previously only open to U.S. athletes. How exactly that translates into the sensationalist espn.com headline, I still don't know.
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby Ned Ryerson » Sat Sep 22, 2012 5:45 am

MJR wrote:The average NFL career is 4 years and it works fine for them.


Yeah, because there's a big part of the public that is very unhappy if there's no NFL season. It's also a world where you have players being paid a salary by a team that's working within the framework of a league. Can you say the same about track and field?

Say these guys aren't happy about sponsorship rules. What are they going to do? Strike? Their window of visibility is so short, pretty much 15 days every four years, that most people wouldn't notice.

I know these guys think they can be like tennis but it's not going to work. Tennis has four world championships every year that everyone wants to win, and all the top athletes are going after the same thing. There are a few thousand track athletes at the world championships or Olympic Games all going for their own events.

Can anyone tell me if all these top guys would be willing to sit out a season or two and give up all their sports related income during that time and that no athletes would cross the picket line to fill their spots at the championships?
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby gh » Sat Sep 22, 2012 6:02 am

vip wrote:I'm all for athletes getting what they can and while they can get it. But I don't understand why they're trying to get the public behind their cause. What exactly is in it for us? I'm not trying to be a wise guy, but will SRR and Symmonds join me in my next fight to get a raise?

Also, nothing will happen unless Nike approves, since we all know the swoosh runs the sport.


Nike will certainly have some say, but it could also be argued that so long as Bolt is the sport and Bolt is Puma's, it's Puma that really has the whip hand at this juncture.

But the real power resides with the organizations that run the major meets on the circuit (by that I mean the local group of clubs that run Stockholm, or LCZ Zürich). They're the ones who take the financial risk in putting these things on each year.

Is an athlete's union willing to assume some of that risk? If not, expect some serious pushback on the the meets being told who they can and can't invite into their meets. Their job is not to lose money and put on the best show they think possible. Without these people the sport dies. Just as it would without the athletes.
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby j-a-m » Sat Sep 22, 2012 6:04 am

Ned Ryerson wrote:I know these guys think they can be like tennis but it's not going to work. Tennis has four world championships every year that everyone wants to win, and all the top athletes are going after the same thing. There are a few thousand track athletes at the world championships or Olympic Games all going for their own events.

And tennis isn't a true Olympic sport. The bureaucracy in t&f, on the other hand, starts all the way at the top with the IOC.
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby dl » Sat Sep 22, 2012 6:37 am

Mighty Favog wrote:One of the first things that organization worked on was a meaningful rankings system so that entry into tournaments was based more on accomplishments and less on connections and other such things.


That would be terrible. Meets would be even more uniform than they are now, with no consideration given to local stars, match-ups, diversity of nations, etc. You'd have steeples with nothing but Kenyans, 100s with Americans and Jamaicans only. Wait, we already have that, and it's not working!
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby Conor Dary » Sat Sep 22, 2012 7:11 am

I thought this was more about the advertising on uniforms. I think it is going to be a loser if the athletes are going to be telling the promoters who is competing.
Last edited by Conor Dary on Sat Sep 22, 2012 7:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby lonewolf » Sat Sep 22, 2012 7:39 am

Conor Dary wrote:I thought this is was more about the advertising on uniforms. I think it is going to be a loser if the athletes are going to be telling the promoters who is competing.

Concur.
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby toyracer » Sat Sep 22, 2012 7:46 am

vip wrote:I'm all for athletes getting what they can and while they can get it. But I don't understand why they're trying to get the public behind their cause. What exactly is in it for us? I'm not trying to be a wise guy, but will SRR and Symmonds join me in my next fight to get a raise?


It is easy to understand why.

What good is a NFL player's strike if the public isn't behind the players?

How much sympathy did the NFL-watching public have for the regular officials before the season started? Right now support is on the rise for the regular officials, but only because the substitutes have been making too many mistakes in too many games. If the substitute officials get their level up to the regular standard and make less mistakes then support will fade for the regulars, and their voice will be weaker when they negotiate.

The same applies here. If there is no public support at all for an athletes association then it doesn't have much bite with its bark. Without any public support it is dead in the water.

That's why they are trying to get the public behind their cause.

What's in it for you? Hard to answer that. But then again, can't you support a position or principle without being a direct beneficiary?
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby guru » Sat Sep 22, 2012 8:16 am

Conor Dary wrote: I think it is going to be a loser if the athletes are going to be telling the promoters who is competing.



Khadevis Robinson, current president of the TFAA, made it clear that is not what they're about.
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby MJR » Sat Sep 22, 2012 8:38 am

This is 100% about the athletes being able to control their own branding and financial decisions. Right now, the IOC and IAAF have an unbalanced level of control over what an athlete can do to earn a living as a professional because those groups still are designed to lord over an amateur sports world. They haven't changed with the times. The athletes are now trying to force that change and get a seat at the table for all discussions that directly affect their branding rights and earning power. This isn't about hand-outs, its about the right of self-determination, which has been denied to them. If the TFAA can come to the table as a unified voice across the sport, they'l be able affect positive change to benefit every athlete and the sport will get an influx of financial & spectator interest as a result. The only thing stopping it now is the continued head in the sand mindset of the "leaders" in charge of the alphabet groups.
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby fortyacresandamule » Sat Sep 22, 2012 9:30 am

Good move. I support this movement 100%. It's about damn time.To those who said It can't work or its nonsensical, well, I am old enough to hear people lament the say cry over various issues they thought would be impossible to come to fruition, only for them to eat their words later on. I am an eternal optimist.
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby j-a-m » Sat Sep 22, 2012 9:44 am

MJR wrote:This is 100% about the athletes being able to control their own branding and financial decisions. Right now, the IOC and IAAF have an unbalanced level of control over what an athlete can do to earn a living as a professional because those groups still are designed to lord over an amateur sports world. They haven't changed with the times. The athletes are now trying to force that change and get a seat at the table for all discussions that directly affect their branding rights and earning power. This isn't about hand-outs, its about the right of self-determination, which has been denied to them.

If that's all it's about, then I'm all for it.
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby GDAWG » Sat Sep 22, 2012 10:02 am

I think this is good for track and field. They want with the IOC what the basketball players have (control of their own financial decisions and branding). They see that the basketball players (well, the men anyways, not sure about the women) not have to struggle to put food on the table for their families or work 2 or 3 jobs just to make ends meet.

The main disadvantage that TFAA doesn't have though is leverage. Basketball can say "we'll withdraw our pros and go with amateurs at the next Olympics." Tennis can do the same by saying "we'll withdraw our top athletes" and go with either amateurs and/or lower ranked pros. With tennis and basketball being the two Olympic sports with the highest paid athletes, they have the leverage that Track and Field does not have.
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby 26mi235 » Sat Sep 22, 2012 10:04 am

j-a-m wrote:
Pego wrote:People of the same profession formed associations since the time immemorial. It used to be called guild, now it is called unions.

And since time immemorial the main purpose of guilds/unions has been to discriminate against outsiders/competitors.


No, the main purpose is to improve the conditions for those in the group. If the outside forces are small and 'scattered', then if demand is high enough, exclusion is a key mechanism. However, few unions actively work to limit the number in the group.

There are a lot of other incentives for the group to do things like increase the quality of the group or help to assure it when the 'customers' (in some broad sense) cannot readily assess the quality of the service. It has to do with the value of reputation, which tends to be good for both those in the group and customers at large.

I only have one paper in this area and it is rather tangential but this area is a lot more subtle than the 'main purpose' claim.
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Re: T&F Athletes To Unionize

Postby vip » Sat Sep 22, 2012 10:19 am

Hey Toyracer, re-read my first sentence before you post. I'll write it again: I'm all for athletes getting as much as they can, while they can get it.

That sounds like support for their cause.

What I just don't understand is why the athletes are taking their plea to the public. What exactly are we going to do? Threaten not to watch meets on TV or buy tickets? Say "pretty, pretty please" to the IOC and meet directors?

We are powerless, and unless the athletes are ready to take drastic measures -- skip the worlds or the Olympics or whatever -- they don't have the hammer in this fight. Their cause seems more like begging.

I'll repeat myself, Toyracer: I'm all for athletes getting as much as they can, while they can get it.
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