This morning while waiting for my WNST “Next Baltimore Idol” Audition, I had the opportunity to hear Nestor and Glenn debate the current and impending NFL Labor situation. While they did not get into the complex details of the the labor issue, they did agree on one thing. They both hope the NFL does not screw this up. I really want to believe that they wont screw it up, and the owners won’t lockout the players, however my memory is littered with strikes and lockouts in other sports leagues. In the past 20 years sports fans have witnessed a Major League Baseball strike, that cancelled the World Series,and nearly put Cal Ripkin’s consecutive game streak in jeopardy. We saw Two NBA lockouts that shortened the season, with talk of more labor trouble ahead. Leading the way and easily the worst offender of the 4 major sports has been the NHL. The NHL has seen a Players Strike in 1992, that threatened the playoffs, as well as two lockouts; one in 1994-1995, and another in 2004-2005. It is safe to say that the labor problems of the NHL has cost the league dearly, as the league is struggling with poor TV viewership, and low attendance. While the other major sports leagues in the country have struggled with labor issues the NFL, has enjoyed labor harmony while increasing profits, ticket sales, merchandising, TV Ratings and Revenues and a construction boom of amazing stadiums that serve as a shrine of the game, and a testament of financial successes.
This is all about to end. This season the NFL is playing with out a collective bargaining agreement or CBA. The 2010-2011 NFL season is playing out with out a salary cap this leaving an owner free to go out and spend as much money as they can to win a championship. I fully expected a maverick owner like Jerry Jones, or Daniel Synder to go out and poach the free agent market, in an attempt to “buy a championship” and it did not happen. Franchise players like Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady are entering into the final years of their contract, and the teams they play for are not negotiating contracts. While the labor situation is complex, involving controversial subjects like a longer regular season, long term care, and TV revenue sharing, the owners have made it clear that they are prepared to lockout the players. The owners are still going to get paid by their television contract, and the money they make off of merchandising. Repeated attempts by the players to sit down at the table and work something out, were cancelled at the last minute by the owners, and with complex issues that involved large amounts of money can and will get more complicated as time moves on.
While I am getting very excited for the start of the NFL season, and watching a Baltimore Ravens team that I feel has an excellent chance at making a Super Bowl run, a certain uneasiness looms in the back of my mind. Sunday’s will be empty with out an afternoon of friends, a few beers, and football. So enjoy this season, and let’s hope the owners put the fans first and get this resolved.
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