The National Lacrosse League, the professional indoor league, has canceled the 2008 season due to a labor dispute. The team owners say they're losing money. The players say owners are diverting revenue to avoid showing a profit which would automatically increase the money received by players. Free agency is also an issue. In the NLL, unrestricted free agency is allowed at age 32, meaning young players have over a decade before they can test the market, such as it is in that league.
It's interesting that the season was called off now, since it wasn't supposed to begin until January. Also, the economic effects -- arenas being dark, their workers losing pay, etc. -- shouldn't be quite as painful compared to the effects of the National Hockey League's 2004-05 shutdown. The 14 NLL teams play a 16-game schedule, so each arena loses only 8 events. A spokesman for Comcast-Spectacor, owners of the Wachovia Center, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that they expect no problems finding substitute events for the canceled Philadelphia Wings games.
Another way in which this differs from previous labor disputes between players and teams is that NLL players' salaries range from just $13,000 to $75,000 -- the higher salaries to top players include appearance fees and other team-related contributions. Many, if not most, of these players have full-time jobs and are playing for little more than the love of the game. We're not talking about a battle between baseball's billionaire owners and millionaire players here. -- Joe Guckin