Cornell University

March 2 2011

Eleventh Hour

Economy Exacerbates National Football League Dispute, Kahn Says

NFLLawrence M. Kahn, ILR professor of labor economics and labor relations, commented on the National Football League collective bargaining agreement set to expire at 11:59 p.m. Thursday.

"While the current overall profitability of the NFL is solid, according to the annual report of Forbes Magazine, the difficult economy has led the league’s average market value to slide recently, especially among the small market teams," he said.

Kahn is considered by many to have provided the primary sports industry research which established sports as a test labor market.

"This has the NFL concerned about its cost structure and revenues, and the league wants concessions from the players, including giving players a smaller share of revenue, enacting a rookie salary cap and lengthening the season to eighteen games," he said.

"For their part, the players would like to keep the gains they have made in previous negotiations, including free agency and a guarantee of roughly 56 to 60 percent of revenue," Kahn said.

In a special issue on sports labor economics to be published by Labour Economics, the journal of the European Association of Labour Economists, Kahn's influence on the field is noted in the introduction.

It reads: "… This is an area where research has grown considerably over the last decade since Larry Kahn published his influential survey paper on 'The sports business as a labor market laboratory' in the Journal of Economic Perspectives 2000."

"Kahn's paper highlighted the potential for sports labour markets to provide suitable data and testing conditions for a number of labour market investigations. The wide range of papers and topics included in this Special Issue is testimony to the influence of Kahn’s survey," according to the text.