Enjoy the NFL while you still can. It could be a lot different this time next season. If there is a next season…
Far too many fans are still unaware of the fact that the 2011 season is likely to be lost because of a labor fight. In short, the owners are asking the players to take 18% less revenue than under the current agreement, which expires in March. The players don’t want to do this without the owners opening up their financial books and showing that it is necessary to sustain the league.
The situation is looking grim.
Before the season Sports Illustrated’s Peter King put the odds of a lockout at 80% and NFL Players Association head DeMaurice Smith said that on a scale of 1-10, the odds of a lockout were a 14.
Of course, this would be devastating for everyone involved – fans, stadium employees, bar and restaurant workers, corporate sponsors, local workers, etc. The NFL is clearly an economic engine and the owners are ready to shut it off because they want a larger share of the profits.
The owners are claiming that the costs of stadiums are to blame. “We are facing different economic realities than we have in prior years,” said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello. “For the most part, these new realities reflect a significant increase in costs, including the cost of building, maintaining and operating stadiums.”
Of course, it’s the NFL owners who pushed for these lavish new stadiums in the first place – often by threatening to move their teams if the cities didn’t build them new stadiums. They have only themselves to blame.
There is little urgency on the part of the owners to resolve the situation. They know that when players stop receiving paychecks, they will be more likely to concede. The owners will still be making money off of their television contracts and they have set aside $900 million to help them weather the storm. Plus, they’ve greased Congress via their NFLPAC in case the fight turns into a national crisis.
The players are united in their efforts to avoid a lockout. They are not giving in without a fight. And who can blame them, given findings on the damage they are doing to their bodies playing football. Men who play 5+ years reportedly cut their lives short by about 20 years. And studies are showing that all the hits they’re taking to the head are taking their toll – depression and Alzheimer’s are much more likely for them.
Hell, you could make the case the players should be demanding more money.
But they’re not. It’s the owners who are initiating this and thus the onus is on them to explain why it’s necessary. They even remotely come close to making a strong case that the players should take less money.
In fact, they’re sending mixed messages – stating on the one hand that they need to take more money for the future of the game and stating on the other that the game has never been more popular.
Until the owners can better explain their rationale for wanting to halt the most successful sporting league in the world, the fans need to ramp up the pressure.
Sports Fans Coalition will be launching a major campaign to save the next NFL season in the coming days and we need your support.
The owners are united.
The players are united.
The fans need to be united.
Brian Frederick is the Executive Director of Sports Fans Coalition. He holds a Ph.D. in Communication and lives in Washington, D.C. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.