SBD/March 28, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Is Stern Or Goodell Better Suited To Lead During Labor Strife?

There is a "strong chance that by midsummer, the NBA will have joined the NFL in locking out its players, and for this we can credit two men above all others," NBA Commissioner David Stern and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, according to the N.Y. TIMES SUNDAY MAGAZINE's Tommy Craggs, who analyzes which commissioner is "better equipped" to lead his league through labor strife. Both Stern and Goodell are "peddling what is essentially an upward redistribution of wealth into the hands of guys like Jerry Jones and Mark Cuban," and it is "going to take some real salesmanship to get the public to go for that." Stern already has "presided over five lockouts during his tenure -- two referee lockouts and three player lockouts -- and he has won convincingly each time." Craggs notes "what's more, he has done it with so much outward charm." Stern has "employed the kinds of sotto voce appeals to our lower selves that we typically reserve for putting people in Congress." Last fall, as the CBA talks were getting underway, the NBA "began to crack down on players’ 'excessive complaining,' which no one thought was a real problem until Stern made it one, again summoning the useful specter of a work force that must be brought to heel." Goodell has "borrowed liberally from Stern’s playbook, but his execution has been clumsier." His emphasis on "personal conduct has occasioned a lot of selective moral grandstanding on subjects both big and small." Goodell "lacks Stern's touch on a tactical level too." Craggs concludes, "Stern is the model commissioner for our times. He has sold lockouts just as ably as he has sold replica jerseys. ... Easy Dave will win his sixth lockout, if it comes to that, and he will win handily, smiling all the while, no matter how nasty and brutish he gets behind closed doors" (N.Y. TIMES MAGAZINE, 3/27 issue).
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