I have always liked well-known SAIS Professor Bill Zartman’s theory of mutually hurting stalemate as an explanation of when a dispute become ripe for resolution. Bill has usually applied this theory to international disputes but, on Monday night, while watching the Packers win, I was able to see this concept applied to a different kind of dispute. Zartman’s theory is that unless both parties are under significant pressure to resolve a dispute, the dispute is not “ripe” for dispute. Sometimes, a horrific episode is necessary to move the parties to talks (often with outside pressure). And while the lockout of the NFL’s refs had resulted in a slew of mistakes, there had not been such a public, obvious, blatant travesty of call until Monday. As my eldest son tweeted, “After further review, the replacement officials still suck.”
Not suprisingly, the NFL climbed off its high horse and resumed talks in earnest. As I write this, ESPN reports the lockout is over. I can only be glad that the Packer’s loss (at least as it is officially recorded although not yet acknowledged in this state) was sufficient to end the lockout and spare other teams the pain and loss that we have suffered.