Last week, I discussed some of my favorite memories of being a Chiefs fan. We all have great sports memories from years past. We get excited when we re-live that great comeback, or the super-human feats of a player, or that amazing catch that ended up on SportsCenter’s Top Ten Plays. There is a general fondness when speaking of the past.
This is great and all, but if the NFL players and owners can’t play nice, the past is all we’re going to have.
In a little over a month, on March 4, 2011, the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) will expire. I’m going to explain the details of what’s happening, and then I’ll take a look at the different sides of this problem.
Let’s start off with the CBA. Simply, a collective bargaining agreement is an agreement that the players, through their union, the National Football League Player’s Association (NFLPA), and the owners negotiate and decide on. It includes rules for wages, working conditions, hours, insurance, etc.
The main problem we have now is money. The owners want a bigger piece of the pie. It’s plain, simple and very cut and dry. This is not an opinion, it is a fact.
As it stands now, after the owners take one percent off the top, the players currently receive 60 percent of total NFL revenue. Now, the owners want to take off 2.4 percent off the top. The players would still receive 60 percent of the total revenue, but it’s 60 percent of a smaller pot.
The owners say they deserve more money because it costs more to run a football operation now than in the past. New and renovated stadiums are costing a lot of money and owners say they need more money to cover expenses.
The problem with the owners wanting more money is that it has to come from someone else’s pockets. And those pockets belong to the players. Essentially, the players are being asked to take an 18 percent pay cut. Across the board, along all salary levels, that is the average pay cut players would incur.
Owners also want to add two more games to the schedule, making the NFL schedule 18 games instead of 16. How would you like to work more, but be paid less? This is what the owners are asking the players to do.
These are the main issues. Unfortunately, there has been almost no recent progress. In fact, the two sides haven’t met since before Thanksgiving.
So what happens if there’s a lockout? The 2011 draft will still happen. But no free agent signings can happen until an agreement can be reached. No trading or off-season programs such as minicamps can take place. In fact, players cannot step foot into team facilities.
The NFL could use replacement players. NFL players might start their own league. Both sides would lose a lot of money, more money than you or I could ever dream of.
And we cannot forget the support staff across the nation that will be put out of work due to a lockout. Stadium employees, such as security and vendors, will be out of a job. Hotels that reside near the stadiums, instead of raising their staff levels during game weekends, will have to cut them.
The biggest losers though, would be the fans. Normal people like you and me. Most of us live paycheck-to-paycheck, and can’t even fathom what to do with millions of dollars sitting in our bank accounts.
We are the people who buy tickets. We are the people who pay ridiculous prices for parking. We are the people who buy beer and hotdogs. We are the people who buy the merchandise.
Some people might say this is a battle of selfish billionaires vs. selfish millionaires. I think this is partially true. The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter who is right and who is wrong. At the end of the day, if both sides want a deal, a deal will happen.
So, what will really happen if there is a strike?
We will be disappointed. We will spend our money elsewhere. We will watch other sports. When a deal finally does happen, we will take our damn sweet time coming back. Why? Because by allowing a lockout, the NFL is showing that we don’t matter.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much you and I can do. But you can go to www.NFLLockout.com and sign the on-line petition to try and stave off a lockout.
I hope there isn’t a lockout. I love football too much. But this I can guarantee: If there is a lockout, I won’t be coming back for a long time. You can’t just break my heart and expect me to come crawling back the moment you think everything is back to normal. Because it won’t be normal.
It will never be the same again.