February 18, 2011 by Gary McCoy
In 1968, the Major League Baseball Players Association negotiated the first-ever Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in professional sports. It has evolved and strengthened over the years with each generation of players, sometimes at great personal sacrifice, ensuring the continuity of rights for the next. The current CBA expires on Dec. 11, 2011, which makes me ponder- what is the future for the Strength and Conditioning “Coach” in Major League Baseball?
My friend and former colleague Orlando Crance (AA Jacksonville Suns) and I had a good discussion last night. He sent me over a copy of the CBA in which the terms Strength Coach and Conditioning DO NOT exist.
It has been rumored that in the new CBA- Strength Coaches will take shape as a member of the staff- eligible for MLB benefits. But will it happen?
Is it the pure responsibility of the MLB Franchise to employ a strength and conditioning coach? Should the Players union, instead- employ a coach that is in the best interests of the players? Should players themselves be responsible for their own conditioning?
What is the value of Strength and Conditioning?
As it appears today- MLB puts no stock in the role- at all.
Ferrari’s Stable of F1 cars costs 10′s of Millions of dollars. Carefully engineered by the time they get to the track- race ready. Imagine- employing the recent graduate from IT technical institute- with 6 months of experience, currently working at Jiffy Lube to service these vehicles as they race around the track.
Thats whats happening often today in Major League Baseball. The “Pay Peanuts Get Monkeys” approach has even greater frequency in Minor League Baseball.
Perhaps the players union should take a stand- and seek the best for their player assets?
The Strength Coach role must be one that prevents injury- maintains power and performance and provides a system for the player that’s effective and manageable throughout the term of their contract.
Great systems- operate organization wide-and should overflow into the respective communities that MLB clubs operate within. Strength and Conditioning Coaches- Directors- whatever the title- have an obligation to the players and to uphold the MLB brand. At a time when the nation cries Childhood Obesity- the NFL has been the only group in the “big four” to step up and aggressively campaign Play 60.
At the MLB level- we have… hang on… athletic trainers (who’s primary role is injury management)- pushing the “play” campaign for youth? Kids show up to run on the field a little and meet a player or two. It’s done once per year. No follow up.. no effort- just going through the motions- for the most part. Think about what an MLB Strength Coach and a team could do with a community effort and engagement by MLB. After all-as America’s pastime- shouldn’t we add this to our responsibility?
Collective bargaining in 2012 is going to affect a lot of Strength Coaches- and their families. All we do in the field is pray that the decisions are made and crafted for the individuals that dedicate their careers to improving the baseball athlete. Compensation must allow MLB franchises to attract the finest technicians available. At salaries consistent with other professional sports- 100-150K per year covering 50 Million Dollars of Athletes is the cheapest insurance policy in the world.