90 Days Later

NFL Commissioner and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith deep in contemplation on how next to put the screws to NFL fans

The NFL Lockout has been going on for 90 days. The start of free agency has officially been pushed back to “whenever it happens” status, and mini-camps and OTAs have honestly been about as exciting and/or newsworthy as they were when the teams were in charge of them, as opposed to the player-organized status they currently have. All the lockout has really shown thus far, is that the NFL really could not care any less about what you think, as long as you pay up when the season inevitably starts.

Nobody in their right mind actually believes that the NFL season will be missed. This is especially true now that there have been reports that the sides have been meeting and negotiating with minimal input from the mediator. Albert Breer of NFL.com has said that the “drop-dead” date for a deal to be in place in order to start in time for the first pre-season game, would be July 15. I expect that there will be a deal in place by then, especially now that there have been reports of Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith having “jovial” dinners in midtown Manhattan. How cute.

A deal will be done, and I’m sure that the general population of NFL fans will consider this ancient history, and it’ll all go back to being the $9 billion-plus industry it is. It just seems relevant to note that we, as fans, were pretty much collateral damage in a league’s labor negotiations, arguing over money that we give them. Every time you buy a Giants shirt, John Mara gets paid, Eli Manning gets paid, and the New Meadowlands gets that much closer to being paid off, and you, of course, get a shirt. Everybody wins. Yet, when guys like John Mara and Eli Manning see that this league is currently generating $9 billion in revenue, there is suddenly a problem with the business model. John Mara says his peers, the owners, need a bigger cut, and guys like Eli don’t want the “greedy” owners digging into their slice of the cake. Suddenly, either they’re going to get the share of cake that they want, or you are basically going to end up paying for more cake. And guess what. You’re going to pay for more cake. That’s right. When everything is said and done in this over-dramatized, multi-billion-dollar slapfight, you’re going to have to keep up with The League, or The League is going to leave you behind.

At the end of the day, the NFL’s new labor deal will (SPOILER ALERT) end up looking a lot like what it currently has in place, with some more benefits going to retired players, the owners getting a little more off the top, and the players having less mandatory off-season work–which will inevitably lead to an 18-game format being unveiled in a couple of years. This will all end up happening. What will also happen is the incline of ticket, merchandise, and all other prices associated with showing your support for the teams you love. It’s like gas. We hate that it’s $4 per gallon, but we keep buying it don’t we? We buy it because we need it. People spend money on the teams that they love, because they need those teams. People spend $20 a person to go to the movies, because they need the temporary escape from reality. And, of course, this is the same reason people spend all the money they have on drugs. When things become a necessity, the demand for those things becomes inelastic (thank you, Professor Henry Rodgers) and we will spend anything to have them.

I have to say, my least favorite part of this “labor dispute” has been the fight between the two sides for the support of the public. Yes, there are the sheep out there who will inevitably be swayed by one side’s sob-story or the other’s. However, at the end of the day, if you’ve been paying attention, you know that they’re both screwing us. That’s why it was so frustrating to see the leaders of each side get on their pulpit, and tell us how they had our backs. All I really want, and all you should want, from either of these sides, is that they level with us. Fine, we’re going to spend $30 for hot dogs one day, and a ticket will only be obtained through mortgaging your house, we get that. But, if that’s the case, don’t tell me you have my back. As the wise Judge Judy titled her book: “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.”

Steve Sabato is a staff writer for Home Field Advantage


About Home Field Advantage
We are two senior Sports Communication majors at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. We have launched this blog as part of our senior year capping project, with the goal of creating a comparative analysis and multimedia approach to the differing sports cultures in America.

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