Mired in sporting lull period that is the month of February, sports fans are
desperately searching for any interesting news. Football is over, basketball is
approaching the all-star break, baseball hasn’t started, and March Madness is still
a month away, so unfortunately the best there is to offer are the painfully slow-
moving Collective Bargaining talks between the NFL and its players association.
With the expiration of the previous agreement 3 weeks away, fans, players, coaches
and owners alike are becoming increasingly worried about the prospect of a
lockout, which would mean (cover your ears, or in this case close your eyes) no
football next year.
As always the main concern here is money. There is a large discrepancy
between the two sides on the best way to distribute the nearly 9 billion dollars in
revenue generated every year. In the old deal, owners would get 1 billion
guaranteed, and they are now looking to double that before the players even see a
dime. The league is riding a wave of popularity, as the 111 million people who
watched the super bowl set the record for the most watched program in television
history. The collective bargaining dispute has greatly crippled the relationship
between the league, the owners and the players, especially following a season
riddled with controversy about player safety.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced several changes to the rules
with the intention of improving player safety and preventing long-term injuries.
Ironically enough, however, there have been serious talks of adding 2 more games
and changing to an 18 game schedule. The players are strongly opposed however,
and see this as an inherent contradiction of league aims to protect the players. The
league offered a compromise that would impose a maximum of 16 games played for
each player, forcing them to sit out two games. The glaring issue with this solution is
the fact that no one’s going to want to see Tom Brady or Peyton Manning sit out two
games a year.
While many people involved in the negotiations are still optimistic, the
thought that there is even a remote possibility of a lockout is sickening. Football has
secured its place as America’s sport, and is more popular than ever. Fans continue
to pay outrageous ticket prices for the love of the game, and their team in particular,
and the league can’t figure out how best to distribute 9 billion dollars in revenue? All
we can do is hope and pray that we still have football next year.