I’m all in favor of people being properly compensated for their work, but I also believe that the free market economy should have a significant role in establishing what is a fair and equitable rate of compensation for any job.
NOTE: I’m going to leave out post-season play for the purposes of the following comparisons.
Do you know what NFL officials earn now? Under the current agreement, NFL officials earn an average salary of $149,000 per year. This is for a season that runs from August until December; a 5 month work year. NFL officials are, and always have been, considered to be part-time employees. By the way, a brand new first-year NFL official earns $78,000 per year.
For comparison purposes, Major League Baseball umpires earn an average of $200-300,000 per year. Now before you scream “foul” in favor of the downtrodden NFL referees, let’s remember that the MLB umpire work year stretches from March (spring training) through October, 8 months. The MLB umpires are also considered full-time, professional employees.
So let’s compare. A part-time job which pays $149,000 per year versus a full-time job which pays $200-300,000 per year. That sounds like a fair balance, particularly considering that in the case of both positions, the league in question pays all of their travel and hotel expenses.
How many of you who are reading this would turn down a part-time job paying $149,000 per year?
Another sticking point in the current negotiations between the NFL and the officials is the league’s desire to eliminate the current NFL official’s pension and replace it with a 401k plan. I have to ask, what other part-time job comes complete with a pension plan in the first place? The NFL’s position is that most corporations are doing the exact same thing for their employees. In fact, Roger Goodell, the Commissioner of the NFL, is not covered by a pension plan.
The officials are apparently okay with this proposal in principle, but in practice they want the NFL to fund their individual 401k plans to the tune of approximately $38,000 per year.
$38,000 per year. Did you know that $38,000 per year is more than the current annual median income in the United States? I worked in the corporate world for over 30 years and I can assure you that I never received a 401k matching contribution anywhere close to $38,000 from my employer.
So where are we? $149,000 per year annual salary, a part-time job with a 5 month work year, all travel expenses covered, and the company wants to kick in a 401k plan.
My advice to the NFL officials who continue to hold out for more: Either get back to work or tender your resignations so somebody else can take your place.
Time to get on with it, gentlemen.