Tensions Rise in KBO

The player’s association has stated that they will not particpate in the All Star game as a result of the owners voting not to select a tenth team to join the KBO.  The owners are probably wondering how they could have painted themselves into such a corner.  As the season began the KBO was on pace to break a record for attendance, with 7 million fans.  It is unclear whether this dispute between the players and the owners will have an impact on this attendance, but there is a threat that the players could boycott the remainder of the season after the All Star break.

According to KBO rules, if a player is selected for an All Star team, but does not participate it is an automatic 10 game suspension.  That would certainly have a significant impact on the quality of play, especially for the better teams who will have the greater number of All Star selections.  Impacting the quality of the league was one of the biggest reasons owners had cited for not supporting a tenth team.  These suspensions seem to contradict with that philosophy of providing a top product on the field.

The players association has threatened that if the 10 game suspensions are meted out they will call for a boycott of the remainder of the season.  That would certainly end any hope of reaching the 7 million in attendance.  Fans would certainly not come out to watch replacement players with the same enthusiasm that they watch their heros, if the owners are even considering that.

The All Star game is scheduled for July 21.  It does appear that there is a big disagreement between the owners of the KBO and the players association regarding this tenth team.  In the past the owners have shown a dictatorial hand when dealing with the players, giving them the “our way or the highway” philosophy.  Some would probably hope that the players association would go away, not learning any lessons from the MLB owners twenty year or so resistance to the major league player’s association that resulted in the first ever loss of the World Series.  A stubborn dictatorial approach will not help the growth of the KBO.  The owners and the players need to get together to establish what will work for both sides.

It is still not clear from many of the clubs whether their objection to a tenth team is really for the best interest of the KBO, or a fear that an addition of a tenth team will draw into a team’s current fan base, which will result in less money coming in for their team.  The players also have an incentive for a tenth team because that certainly means more jobs for them.  A dilution of talent will result.

What is in the best interest of the KBO probably needs to be decided by an independent arbitrator that has no investment in a team and is not affiliated with the player’s association.  Whether such an entity can be found is unclear.  It would have to be someone both the owners and players agree to perform a study of what is best for the KBO.

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