The USFL and Steel Workers Union have been working since midway through season one on a CBA. If you are like most, then you found this interesting, but didn't have a full grasp of what this means for the league and you as a fan. Lets dive into the CBA and break it down in terms that make more sense to the casual reader.
What is a CBA?
The main acronym that is tossed around everywhere is CBA. What is a CBA? CBA stands for a Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Steel Workers Union is an organization that specializes in organizing and mediating collective bargaining agreements for organizations and their employees all over the country. According to the SHRM website, a collective bargaining agreement is when an employer and worker representatives sit down and basically just discuss what they expect of one another. You may be imagining head people at the USFL and player representatives literally sitting at a table and talking out what they want, and you would be right!
The two gentleman in the photo above are Kenneth Farrow and Nick Temple of the UFPA or United Football Players Association. They are the President and Vice President respectively, former and current spring football players that took it upon themselves to represent USFL players and their expected conditions. These are two of the men who sat at a table or zoom call with representatives of the USFL and went over the three categories of subjects that are in a CBA; mandatory, voluntary, and illegal subjects. Over the better part of a year they talked to representatives from each USFL team and created their requested conditions of employment. Once agreed upon, both sides are then legally required to abide by the signed and ratified contract.
Agreed Upon Terms
The largest takeaways from the agreement is the significant raise in pay for active and especially inactive players, as well as the stipend for housing specifically. In season 1 the players had to cover their own housing, with a discount price for a room at the hotel headquarters for the league. This was a significant impact of the agreement that is a tremendous gain for the players.
In the other benefits it mentions education. This is an aspect of the league that is often overlooked, but is massively important for players and life outside of football. The league has made a deal with Strayer University and Capella University. A quote directly from the league is "Education provided by the USFL during Season 1 will remain: Strayer/Capella provides players and staff tuition-free coursework online through Capella University or online and in-person at Strayer University, giving them the flexibility to pursue associate, bachelor's or master's degrees in business, healthcare, IT and education, among others." Now this is important to many players as they may have left college before graduation to declare for the draft, or they may want to pursue further education for endeavors off of the football field.
How Does This CBA Affect the Fans?
Most casual USFL fans most likely saw the news of the agreement between the USFL and the Steel Workers Union/UFPA and thought to themselves "oh...cool, what does this mean for what I'm watching?". This agreement, however, has a direct impact on the product fans will see on the field. The agreement has guaranteed and raised pay to a competitive and outright better deal than any other spring football league currently. Money is a top concern of many players that have families, loans, and expenses to pay while they are away playing the game they love. The league has now proven that they are determined to give players a wage that they can comfortably handle all of their affairs with. The higher pay will also help encourage a high class of talent to consider playing in, and possibly staying in the USFL for years to come. Better players means better football for fans to watch.
The education aspect is not only a gain for players, but also fans. Getting an education is something that many consider essential, and football can fall to the wayside. If players are able to play football and not have to sacrifice their education, then more players will be able to rationalize playing in the league. This alongside the new wage are going to increase the player pools that the scouts and GMs are able to sign players from. More players, better product.
As a whole, spring football is a competition between leagues to get players to play and fans to watch. This agreement gives the USFL a hefty leg up on all of their competitors to get the best players available to join the teams that the fans will be watching and grow loyalty for. The CBA is another way for the league to show players that they are putting players first, and that this league is working hard every day to keep us all... United By Football.