Since my last post, there's been another update in the ongoing process between the owners and players' union. Today, the NFL and NFLPA agreed to meet with a federal mediator for seven straight days. What does this mean? Check after the jump.
Mediation is an alternative to the court system. If two parties have a dispute, instead of going to court, they go to a private agency (or in this case, a federal agency which performs the same function) and bring their dispute to a neutral third party to help resolve it. The entire process is faster and cheaper than the court system, which is why people use it. There are a couple different kinds of mediation: binding and non-binding, which are exactly what they sound like.
Here, the NFL and union have agreed to go to non-binding mediation. Essentially, this is just a tool which has brought the two sides to the table and gotten them to have meaningful discussions. This is a positive development, because prior to this, the two sides couldn't even agree on a meeting. Apparently, they've agreed that they'll meet for seven straight days.
This doesn't necessarily bring us any closer to a solution--either party is free to walk away at any time, and any rulings or decisions made by the mediator are completely non-binding. But again, this is a good first step, because now there can actually be communication between the sides. Now, we just have to hope that actual progress is made in these talks. The presence of a mediator should help smooth over areas of conflict, so the two sides will keep talking. Again, we'll just have to wait and see.