In this post we will be discussing something near and dear to many of us here at Targeted Victory, the NFL. The NFL is currently at a stalemate between its players union and the owners over the temporarily extended Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
What is the dispute?
The dispute between the NFL and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) revolves around signing a new CBA, and until both sides reach an agreement, the NFL cannot continue with its normal off-season schedule.
What is the Collective Bargaining Agreement?
The CBA is the contract between the NFL Owners and the NFLPA that sets the standards of how the league operates. At minimum, the CBA determines the distribution of revenues, minimum salary, expansion of regular season, the definition of free agency, the rookie salary cap, steroid and drug testing policy and enforcement as well as the players’ health benefits. While both sides continue to negotiate a new CBA, each side has also sought publicly to put their spin on the issue.
The NFL Owners have sought to portray the players as greedy millionaires who are now making more money than ever. Due to the NFL Owners own ample financial resources, some have begun referring to this fight as “Millionaires vs. Billionaires.”
At the same time, the NFLPA argues that the owners are the ones making record profits. They argue that while a few players per team are making millions, the rest of the 53 man roster is not nearly as fortunate (keep in mind that the league minimum wage is $300,000). The players have made the case that they are ready to play football with their “Let Us Play” campaign, a collect of videos of current players, NFL legends and NFL Fans with a similar message to the Owners: “Let Us Play.”
How is Social Media involved in the debate?
Twitter has been the primary social media platform each side has used to try to sell their message to fans.
The NFL has created the Twitter handle @NFLLabor to push their message while highlighting articles that accuse the NFLPA of fudging numbers to fit their narrative.
Meanwhile the NFLPA has used two twitter handles to not only relay their information but to engage fans and hear their thoughts about the potential Lockout. Both Twitter handles, @NFLPA and @NFLLockout, have been used to retweet fan and player dissatisfaction at the threatened Lockout, update players on cancellation of their Healthcare (get your Cobra continuation papers filed), spread YouTube videos and circulate an online petition to “Block the Lockout” to fans.
As seen above @NFLLabor has 14,069 followers and has produced 460+ tweets since beginning on February of 2010.
@NFLPA has 10,405 followers and nearly 500 tweets while @NFLLockout has just over 4,702 followers and over 850 tweets. While duplicates are likely between the NFLPA accounts the totals are NFL 13,856 followers and 460 tweets vs. NFLPA 14,712 followers and about 1,300 tweets.
One would expect that content to all accounts has picked up over the past month as negotiations continue to stall, however only one side has ramped up its efforts. @NFLockout produced almost 300 tweets for the month of February accounting for 34% of the total account activity to date. Meanwhile @NFLLabor posted only 20 times, accounting for 4% of total account activity.
Click on the image below to see some sample tweets.
The NFLPA Lockout Facebook page has over 44,000 likes and the NFLPA YouTube channel has over 1,700 subscribers, over 1.4 million total upload views and over 150,000 views for the “Let Us Play” ad. The NFL and Owners do not have a specific effort for the labor negotiations.
What does this mean?
It’s impossible to say that the online debate of the NFL Labor talks has not influenced the people following the action online. The broader question is; Is the use of social media helping to sway perception one way or the other? The answer to that remains to be seen.
What we do know is that the outlets being used and the context by which they are being used present two clear contrasts in efforts. One effort is based entirely on posting articles on a website and a twitter page. The other effort is an engaging, call to action, operation determined to not only provide information on the subject but to persuade fans to do the same.
The strongest online efforts in this debate may have yet to be seen. Now that the NFL is poised to enter lockout mode, pressure will inevitably mount on both sides to get a deal done so football can resume with the off-season. Keep in mind, until a new CBA is signed, free agency is stalled, mini camps cannot be held, and rookies (post-April draft) cannot sign with teams that draft them. Responding to the lockout in a persuasive and timely manner may be a bigger task for both sides than trying to sway public perception in the lead up to a potential Lockout. If this is the case, the NFLPA is much better prepared to push their message from multiple outlets to NFL fans online than the NFL and the Owners.