Is a Work Stoppage Looming in the KWL? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ryan Winfield   
Thursday, 10 March 2011 18:12

Is a Work Stoppage Looming in the KWL? by Ryan Winfield 3/10/2011

KWL management, players far apart on new collective bargaining agreement.

The sporting world is currently glued to the edge of its seat, holding its collective breath that a deal between players and NFL owners can be reached to save the 2011 season. The fight between billionaire owners and the millionaire players has reached a breaking point, as issues such as profit sharing, extended schedules, salary caps, and benefits are feverously being debated, each side wanting to gain a bigger piece of the pie. Unfortunately for fans everywhere, if a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) cannot be reached soon, there may be no football for the upcoming season. This “doomsday scenario” would leave most American men having to find something arbitrary to do with their Sundays, like spending time with their children.

Flying under the radar, with panic of the potential NFL lockout

holding most sports fans attention, the league officials of the KWL have quietly opted out of their own CBA. When the league started in 2006, league management and the players union had no problem agreeing to basic playing terms within the KWL. The administration of the association wanted to create an atmosphere that would attract the best wiffle talent in the area, while the players in the Kalamazoo area were just thrilled to be able to show off their abilities. The KWL and its players happily came to a 10 year agreement, scheduled to end after the 2015 season. However, clause 52.13b states:  “If the KWL reaches expansion of 16 or more teams, league management may opt to end the agreement anytime following the sixth season of play.” The 2011 season will be the sixth.

In an attempt to reach an agreement before any potential lockouts or strikes can occur, league management and team player reps, led by player union president Jim Noel, have been debating around the clock to hammer out a new agreement. While both sides have agreed not to allow negotiations to play out in the media, I have spoken to an anonymous team representative who has filled me in on some of the more contentious points that are holding up the negotiations. If the two sides cannot come to terms on these important issues, the possibility of a wiffle-free 2012 summer remains frighteningly real.

KWL: The Game
Over the winter of 2010, the league was approached by 2K Sports to do a video game version of the KWL. An agreement was reached that would pay the league a 10% cut of every unit sold, which would stand to be a large amount of money at $60 per unit. KWL management made the callous decision to exclude the players union, leaving individual players out of the game and replaced by a similar player likeness, such as how they do with NCAA video games. For instance, the #1 starter on the Gentlemen wouldn’t be “Brian Barber,” it would be a redheaded “P 20” with skills and attributes similar to the player. If the league uses player likenesses instead of the actual player, the revenues wouldn’t have to be shared. Exempt from this policy is Kevin “The Icon” Marszalek, who has signed a lifetime endorsement contract with 2KSports to be the all-time cover boy. Sources say that the player union is asking for inclusion into the game, and a 50/50 cut of profits.

Mainstream Exposure
A continuation of the last issue, players contend that there are too few opportunities to “brand” their image and cultivate the type of status that few have achieved in the history of the KWL. “Marsz has his face on everything from pregnancy tests to video

games, and Lukas just released his line of designer skinny jeans. Hell, even Meyers has his face on a damn mountain!”says one team rep. “All we are asking for are the appropriate outlets to further our individual images.” League officials have shown some willingness to compromise on this front, investing in HD-ready portable video cameras and opening a league sanctioned YouTube channel to show the world the best, and worst, of the KWL.

Free Agency Rules
During the free agency boon of the 2010 offseason, some teams made out as winners, while others crashed and burned in their efforts to solidify their team. The rich only got richer as the upper echelon teams roped in the best free agents in Everett, Barber and Scudder. Although certain league officials benefited from the current free agent system, management recognizes that competitive balance is good for the league, and is currently kicking around ideas to place a “cap” on how much talent one team can acquire. The union opposes any such cap, as they believe a player should be free to sign anywhere he chooses. Concessions may be made if the league would agree to drop the rule that disallows second year players from becoming free agents. This point was brought to light when Zac Adams aired his disgust regarding the Industrials signing of Steve Everett, leaving Zac as the odd man out in the Indies rotation.

Health Benefits
Football is a violent sport that all too often leaves its players crippled, concussed and clinically depressed, much in the same way that wiffleball does. Much like the NFL union, the players contend that the league should pay for long term healthcare for any career ending injuries that occur on the playing fields of the KWL. Mark Thompson, of Scared Hitless, had an experience last season that left him traumatized. “I made my best effort at a diving catch, and when I got up, I had a bloody knee!” Thompson testified at a recent labor negotiation meeting. “Since there was no first aid on site, I had to disinfect it with Bud Light and I got blood on my shorts!” Although first aid kits will be in the equipment boxes for the 2011 season, the player demands don’t stop there. “You think drinking all this beer while exerting myself in 90 degree weather is easy on my liver?” adds Adam Dobbs, of the Sidewinders. “I sacrifice my body for this game, but will the KWL pay for a new liver? No. That’s why I’ve already got one lined up on the black market.”

Extended Schedule
Hoping to milk more revenue out of the league, the brass at the KWL have informed the player union to prepare for an expanded schedule from the current 28 game schedule to a 32 game slate in 2012,

adding two weeks of regular season play. With the aforementioned health concerns of the players, the union is unlikely to budge on its refusal for additional games. With top tier pitchers such as AJ Tate already gassed by the end of the season, an additional workload may lead to career ending injuries. There is a slight chance the union would concede if the league allowed for expanded roster limits to take on the extra workload. When asked for comment, John Prihoda of No Big Deal stated “The KWL has roster limits? News to me!”

Although talks are scheduled to resume during the all-star break, the last series of negotiations left the anonymous source with the feeling that neither of the two sides are willing to flinch, and that players are already planning the summer of 2012 as if there will be a lockout. “All in all, we want to play,” says the source, “however we have to stand our ground for the generations of players that will come up behind us.”

Last Updated on Thursday, 31 March 2011 11:34
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