CBA Talk: Defining "Bad Faith" and Talking About the System

The gentlemanly JA Sherman is a smart dude. In recent months, he has written many an informative piece about the ongoing collective bargaining going on between the owners and players. The one he wrote today, “Mediating in the Garden of Good and Evil,” may be his best. Failing that, it’s still certainly a must-read piece.

In essence, he sets out to show the difference between the colloquial use and legal use of the term “bad faith.” Owners, players, writers and fans have all been throwing this around since even before the lockout began. It goes a lot deeper as well.

Here’s the set up.

Imagine if you will a conversation that I have with my wife. We discover that a benevolent benefactor has decided that, because of how much he likes us as a married couple, he wants to give us $2,000 to spend on one single item that would bring us joy. A choice has to be made. On my side of the table, I say, “I would love it if we spent that money on a Les Paul Guitar.” On her side of the table, she says, “I would love to spend that money on some YSL shoes.”

I list out all the reasons why the guitar is the superior investment – the guitar retains its value, it brings me great enjoyment, and it would bring a smile to anyone for whom I played (since in my genius-scenario, my guitar technique is synthesis of Slash, Jimmy Page, and Stevie Ray Vaughan). My wife lists out all the reasons why her shoes would be the superior investment – they would make her look fabulous, her glamorous appearance by extension would bump up my own from a 2 to at least a 2.5, she’ll likely not have many opportunities to acquire such a rare item of apparel, and if she’s happy, everyone is happy.

Each person wants to see the money spent for their own interest, an interest that leaves very little to the satisfaction of the other. In other words, both my wife and I are completely governed by our own self-interest. While we certainly care about the other’s position and genuinely want them to be happy, the complete divergence of self-interests in my two-choice zero sum game means that one’s satisfaction has to come completely at the expense of the other. We debate the potential purposes back and forth to no avail. Each accuses the other that he/she is not being “fair,” and is acting “selfishly.” As the negotiation becomes more passionate and each person becomes even more entrenched, a sense of moral superiority surfaces, which further justifies one purchase over the other. Eventually one of us utters this sentence:

“You never intended to listen to my argument for why we should get my guitar/shoes. You were negotiating in bad faith.”

Head on over to read the rest.

In other news, our own Tim Donahue recently sat down with our friends at the Nets website Nets Are Scorching to go over some of the causes of the CBA impasse. In the video below, they talk about the hard cap, luxury tax and all the other thrilling logistics that define how the players may or may not get paid this season.


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