With One Lockout in Place, Another Seems Likely

Sports fans of all sports are battling what seems to be a hydra. A four headed monster of a CBA whose heads are the NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA.  The first head of the NFL seems to hurling fire at the fans and they are reeling. It seems no matter what the fans do, there is nothing that can make  the NFL take notice .

The remaining heads have the fans against the NBA, MLB and NHL with their collective bargaining agreements expiring today, December 2011 and September 2012 respectively. If the fans fight the way they have in against the NFL, it is most likely that the fans will have no chance against the bigger monster that is professional sports.

Here we are in month three of the lockout, there have been rumors over the past week that the two sides may be getting close to an agreement. Unfortunately, these recent actions have absolutely zero to do with players and owners being afraid of their fans reactions. To date, the most the fans have done is briefly chant “we want football” at the beginning of the NFL Draft in April, and participate in Roger Goodell’s joke of a conference call tour with hand picked fans from across the country.

Other than that, there has been a Marcel Marcel like silence from fans related to the latest insult by a league generating over $9 billion a year in profits; keep in mind that $9 billion comes from the pockets of the fans.

The NBA is close to having their lockout as well.  Both sides have the same issues that keep them from making any settlement.  Now this could be another lockout in the same year fans will have to go through.  There are plenty of football fans that are also basketball fans.  How slighted do fans feel knowing they will not be able to enjoy two of their favorite sports.

The current CBA, which was negotiated six years ago, is set to expire at the end of the day. However, team owners and the players’ union remains “worlds apart” in critical issues and aspects of the CBA including salary cap, salaries,  and league revenue-sharing.

The negotiations need to make “significant progress” in order to avoid a dreaded lockout, the Associated Press reports. The last NBA lockout came in 1999 resulting into a shortened NBA season, significant drops in gate attendance and television ratings and hundred millions in lost salaries and league revenues.  Not to mention merchandise sales and fans interest in the sport which has just began to pick up in recent years.

Team owners are pushing for a harder salary cap as 17 out of the 30 NBA teams have lost money last year. In fact, storied NBA franchises such as the New Orleans Hornets and the Sacramento Kings experienced well-documented financial woes during the season, resulting to the Hornets being sold to the NBA while the Kings almost relocating to Anaheim, California.  In MLB, the Los Angeles Dodgers have also been run by the league due to financial issues. 

Team owners and representatives from the players’ union can still meet after the expiration of current CBA but that depends on the progress of the talks scheduled today. With just hours before the end of today’s deadline, the NBA is on the verge of experiencing its first lockout since 1999.  Fans are on the verge of not just being caught in the middle again, but facing the loss of another sport’s season. 

The NfL and the players could set a precedent on how the other leagues might have to handle their CBA’s.  Keep in mind, back in 1999 and 1987, there was no social media.  In 1999, the internet was in its infancy.  There was only the traditional print and broadcast media.  Everyone is under a larger microscope and news is reported everywhere about everything.  The NBA needs to take note from what the NFL did in order to make things run more smoothly.

The fans need to come together in some fashion.  Keep speaking out through whatever voice you have freedom to use.  We all need to show not just our displeasure with these owners and leagues, but that we are an integral part of their discussions.  In the end, it is our hard earned dollars that make sure there is a league.  Without fans, who would they play for?  Themselves?  There is no money in that.

Players & Fans Wait Together On End To NFL Lockout

When sports crown a new NBA champion & NHL Stanley Cup winner, it begins the summer sports lull that is usually filled by the start of NFL mini-camps and the start of training camp.  A buzz normally fills the air on what teams are looking good in training camp, even before the preseason opener.

This year is different. This year we are being submitted to endless baseball highlights & whatever else ESPN can show during SportsCenter due to continued arguing over a billion dollar industry.  A summer that should be filled with players and teams preparing for gridiron battle.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has reduced his pay to $1 for the duration of the lockout. With each passing day not being paid, players miss out on crucial practices and playing tim. However, fans have it much worse: they are stuck at home with no hope of a Super Bowl come January. Stuck with Packers fans bragging about their epic title run.  Stuck talking about a season that may never come.

Goodell says that the lockout isn’t just to benefit players and owners though; fans will benefit as well.  Fans never benefit when players and owners talk about what money they are owed.

Fans wait to make certain decisions before the season starts.  What single games do they want to purchase, what away games to attend, what to buy in preparation for tailgating, when to buy that new HDTV, and other decisions usually made before football begins.

Certain fans have already given up their season tickets.  Some have had it with riisng ticket prices and others just feel the lockout was the last straw in seeing how little the fans mean to the NFL.  Some Jets fans have not just given up their seats, but trying to sell their PSL’s as well.

“That’s why we are trying to get a better economic model” Goodell told reporters last week. “And I think everyone understands that. You (the fans) are not being left out of the equation. The fans are a big part of that equation and a big part of the success of NFL football.”  He sees costs being passed down to the fan that would be prevented with a better business model.  Costs are already too high so any economic change for the fan is good.

Free agency is a critical time for teams to acquire new players to help supplement their squad. The big signings that occur every year and change the landscape of the NFL excite fans for the coming season. This is when we can stop talking about the Super Bowl champion and have a reason to feel that this year is different.

Last year former Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers was probably the biggest name amongst free-agent signees. Peppers went on to be a contributor for the Chicago Bears with 8 sacks against constant double teams. Bears fans were sure they were on the right path to win the big game.

Kenny Britt awaiting judges decision. Credit: NJ.com

This year it’s supposed to be whatever team can land Nnamdi Asomugha, a cornerback who has proven that he can shut down half the field. Unfortunately, he won’t find a home until the lockout finally comes to an end.  Same goes with the NFL rookies.  Drafted by their new organizaton, they can not be signed or talked to.

Our favorite players are also getting into trouble because they have too much time on their hands.  Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt was charged with resisting arrest and tampering with evidence this week when he crushed a joint as police approached him.  The police didn’t find any drugs on him, but this is likely a situation that would have been avoided if players were focused on the season.

Now the Titans are entering the season with a diminished receiving group and are likely facing another sub-par year.  Less time to work with coaches, less time to improve.

Former Giants and Steelers wide receiver Plaxico Burress just got out of jail but can’t sign with a team because of the lockout.  The best he can do is workout and practice with others so he can get into some kind of playing shape.

Formerly a dynamic game changing receiver and Super Bowl hero, Burress will enthuse the fans of whatever team he goes to – if and when he does actually get signed.

I hope Goodell is sincere that the resulting post-lockout business model reduces costs that are being passed down to fans. We are the reason the league is so successful, and the more of the league year us fans lose to the lockout the more interested we will become in things not related to the NFL.  Goodell should learn from what happened to MLB and the NHL.