In his latest article in Professional Sports and the Law, partner Bob Wallace argues that, like Congress’ eleventh hour decision to avert the fiscal cliff, sports negotiations too often rely on deadlines to get anything done. Time is an asset, Wallace writes, and negotiators should use that asset to have a reasonable discussion of the issues and settle on a workable solution.
“It is counter-intuitive to believe that better results are achieved when parties rush to make decisions,” Wallace writes. “I would argue that there is one negotiation strategy that makes more sense. It’s the strategy where negotiations start and end in a time frame that doesn’t favor one party more than the other. In this way, neither party gains an unfair advantage and negotiation talks don’t result in an unfair agreement.”
Wallace’s article, “Deadlines and Delays: Why Waiting Until the Last Minute Is a Bad Negotiation Strategy,” focuses on the negotiation stall tactics that cropped up in the NHL labor dispute and are now prolonging the NHL’s work stoppage.
The tactic is frequently employed by negotiators of all sorts; Wallace admits he occasionally has leaned on deadlines as a negotiation tactic.
“In 30 years of negotiating contracts in the sports industry, I have utilized the brinksmanship negotiating technique and been subject to it,” he writes. “But I have also realized that one can also make good deal — and sometimes a better deal — by striking early.”
Wallace, former general counsel and executive vice president of the St. Louis Rams, is chair of Thompson Coburn's Sports Law Group.
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