NEW YORK—It looks like the two sides are trying to play nicey-nice in the proverbial ‘bank’ box as the owner’s decision to lock out the players was extended until Friday, March 11 at 5 o’clock. The Collective Bargaining Agreement was set to expire March 4th at midnight. This is a very smart move and breeds a sugar ray of hope to the players and their fans. But what’s so dangerous about this lockout threat is that if it does happen to occur, the NFL could lose fans from this catastrophe forever.
Sure, people will always flock to most games; the NFL, as it stands, is the country’s most popular sport. Yes millions of people, young and old, male and female are wearing LeBron James and Kobe Bryant jerseys, but the most viewed sport as a whole is, indeed, NFL football.
Football is a gathering sport. It’s only played once a week on Sundays, save for the marquee Monday Night Football extravaganzas. It’s promoted all week long and the anticipation is at fever pitch. It’s something that people watch after church, shopping or couch potato-ing, with a bag of chips, popcorn and brew. Basketball is much more entertaining in terms of point-scoring and athletic showmanship with dunks, spin moves, blocked shots and the like. Baseball is of the more boring sort to most, but it has the most tradition: ‘mom, apple pie, hot dogs and Chevrolet’ come to mind when you think of baseball.
With the economy the way it is, (yes, there are reports that the jobless rate has declined and more people are going to work), no one would sympathize with the process of millionaires and billionaires unable to come to an agreement on fairly splitting a $9 billion dollar pie. Yes, annually the NFL – from players and owners and merchandising, television and advertising – is a $9 billion dollar industry. That’s a whole ‘lotta chedda’ for somebody to get tackled and sacked.
With the week that they’re giving each other – with the exception of the weekend to allow for a breather – it would behoove them to come to an amicable agreement because the consequences will be severe, not just for the players not getting paid, but there’s talk that even some coaches especially the assistants could lose money. Some teams are even threatening to layoff or furlough office personnel. These are working class people, not the millionaire football types.
The billionaire owners may be a little misguided as to what a lockout (they could still make money by NOT paying the players) would do, but not Commissioner Roger Goodell, who was quoted saying, “we are not litigating through the courts, we are negotiating.” He realizes the dangers of losing public opinion in these hardened economics times. President Barack Obama declined to take part in adding his two cents into the situation. But clearly he, like millions of others, would be greatly disturbed if a resolution couldn’t be reached for the greater good of the sport. $9 billion dollars is a lot of money to be split for the right reasons.
Follow Jerald on Twitter @JerryHoover65