The NFL Stalemate and Why Zero-Sum Negotiations Suck

9.27 addendum: The strike is resolved.

It seems surprising.

Over what would be a $125K of cost a team, the NFL owners have locked out their referees. They’re using replacement officials. Play on the field has suffered. Players are getting injured. Some teams have lost games due to blown calls or non-calls.

The referees are asking for pension benefits. The owners claim that part-time employees should not get full-time benefits.

I’m not here to argue for one side or the other. I’m here to argue that, at some point, you need to compromise. If you always view life as a zero-sum game, you will dig in your heels and measure progress in terms of us vs. them.

But, if you focus on win-win outcomes, you can be creative where everyone gives a little and everyone is better off.

Hey NFL, how about you just give the referees raises and give max contributions to their 401k retirement plans? In that way, you have stayed true to your principle on part-time employees, but you give the refs more value?

It’s clear that they’re worth it.

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