Perspectives from a Mediator/Arbitrator

Friday, February 10, 2006

Olympics, Disputes and Arbitration

Today marks the start of the Winter Olympics. I will be watching over the next two weeks lots of sports - many of which I have not seen since the last Winter Olympics in 2002 in Salt Lake City. I remember fondly the first Olympics I ever really watched, the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. Canada became the first nation ever to host an Olympic Games and not win a gold medal - Greg Joy's silver in the high jump was the best we could muster. Well now that the Turin or Turino (depending on who you ask) Games are upon us - Canada is expecting up to 25 medals and is hoping to finish third among all nations - I assume that US and Germany are expected to do better but maybe the Norwegians are expected to be in there somewhere!
While I will watch and enjoy the sports, I will also be watching for the inevitable disputes that will arise. Who would have thought before the Salt Lake Games that a figure skating judging controversy would be revealed (lots of us would have expected it to occur) and that it would be resolved by giving two pairs the gold medal in pairs skating? Who would have thought after Becky Scott of Canada finished third in a cross country ski race that many months later she would be given the gold medal as both the original gold and silver medalists were disqualified for using banned substances? What will it be this time? How will it be resolved? What process will be used to resolve it?
Finally, on a somewhat related subject, a record-setting salary arbitration will occur in baseball. Alfonso Soriano, a second baseman for the Washington Nationals, will receive a record-setting salary arbitration award. He has asked for $12 million a season and his team has countered with an offer of $10 million. Either way that the arbitrator goes, it will be a record salary award as there has never been an award of $10 million or more.


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