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Thoughts And Musings

Hello, my fellow Gabbers. For those about to muse, I salute you.

-This version of T and M may be more Thoughts and Rantings. A warning in advance.

-Read this article in Sunday’s Post. Basically, it’s about a restaurant owner in Albany, who, if there is no training camp, will lose a “significant amount of money”.

-I’ve written a lot about the “hidden” cost of the lockout, whether it’s a restaurant owner, a stadium worker, or a player fighting for a job. It’s a real issue and no one’s talking about it.

-In an Op-Ed in the New York Times, former Senator Arlen Specter writes that there will be an estimated $5 billion in lost revenue from a lockout. He calls on Congress to intervene. As he writes:

Congress has considerable leverage over the N.F.L. because it grants the league an antitrust exemption without which it could not operate as it currently does. The joint agreements among teams on matters like free agency and revenue sharing, as well as the league’s single national TV deal, would otherwise run afoul of federal antitrust laws, which prohibit businesses (in this case, individual teams) from making deals that reduce competition.

To ensure an agreement between the owners and players in time for the 2011 season, Congress should place a special condition on the continuation of the N.F.L.’s antitrust exemption: the owners and players must abide by a settlement procedure known as last-best-offer arbitration. This procedure would require the two sides to negotiate; if an agreement is not reached, each side would make its last best offer and an arbitrator would chose between the two. This arrangement creates an incentive for each side to make the more reasonable offer, lest the arbitrator pick the other side’s.

It’s a salient argument, and, as Specter notes “the mere threat of such legislation might induce a settlement”.

-Obviously, we don’t talk about politics on the Gab here. There’s no need. But, as I’ve said before, I think you’re going to see action from Washington. Whether it’s from Congress, as Specter thinks, or from Obama himself, I think the stakes are too high. Especially with an election coming. Some 5 million jobs could be lost across the country. You can’t vote out NFL owners. You can vote out politicians.

-And that’s what bothers me so much about this lockout. This isn’t a democratic process. It’s a oligarchical process. It’s 32 owners and lawyers deciding the fate of 5 million people, not to mention all the fans, not to mention the people like the Albany restaurant owner who will keep his job but lose lots of revenue.

-I understand the the desire to get a better deal. I do. I think it’s only natural to want that. I think it’s expected. And I’m not even angry at that. The CBA expired, and they’re having issues coming to a deal. It happens. But what angers me is that we have no say in this. Fans have such a stake in football. Whether it’s economic stake, or even a cultural stake, football is part of the fabric of this country. Baseball is no longer America’s pastime. Football is. And the PR damage is brutal. Yes, Goodell has done outreach to fans, but only season ticket holders, and those are not the majority of fans. Let’s not forget that most people can’t even afford season tickets, not with PSLs and other newfangled money making instruments. This is our lockout. But it’s not. We have no control over our sport.

-You can talk about other lockouts, and I think it’s prescient. Look what happened a few years ago with the NHL. They lost a lot of fans. It took time for baseball to recover from 1994. Hell, you could make the argument that without Sosa and McGwire in 1998, baseball would have never recovered. And like this lockout, the fans were the ones locked out, but had no control. The players are locked out, sure. But, it’s the fans, the stadium workers, the bar owners that are truly locked out.

-I think we underestimate how important football is to us as a culture. Football is a social currency. It connects people across the county. It brings together people who otherwise would not be brought together. Yes, it may bring up fights and disagreements, but I would argue that it is in these fights and disagreements that we exchange social currency. Yes, our fandom can be irrational at time, but it’s the irrationalness that allows an Eagles and Giants fan to come together to root against the Cowboys. It’s in that irrationalness that brings fans together from across the political and socio economic spectrum in one place, at one time, in pursuit of one common goal. Other sports do this too. But not in the same manner as football. We’re a football crazy country. And, if we’re locked out, for an entire season, we not only lose the sport, we lose a cultural exchange.

-Thank you for allowing me to rant. I know it’s frustrating as readers to come to the site, and see less posts, and see T an d M’s with only lockout stuff. It’s frustrating for me. I want to be able to write about football, not labor strife. But this is where we’re at. And if you stick with us, and when football eventually does come back, you know we’re going to bring it on the site.


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4 Responses to “Thoughts And Musings”

  1. Erik says:

    A few things:

    Where on earth are you getting the ‘5 million jobs will be lost’ figure? The country has something in the area of 139 million jobs total, (c.f. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t01.htm ) and that counts seasonal and part-time positions. Ain’t no way the NFL is 3.5% of the entire country’s labor pool, even if you extrapolate two or three levels outward, like the restaurant owners and stadium workers you’re talking about. It’s a $10 billion industry, not a $500 billion one.
    9 times out of 10, I wish Arlen Specter would shut up and do something useful with his elected office, rather than tilting at windmills. But I do take a certain satisfaction in seeing him directly threaten the league’s owners, and not mince words in saying “Hey, you remember that time that Congress wrote you a law that specifically let you get away with labor practices that are illegal for every other company in the country (that is not called Major League Baseball)? If you don’t stop pulling this crap real soon, it will go away, and then you really will be staring at all those losses you’ve been crying about to the NFLPA when we regulate your asses into 32 actually-competitive businesses.”
    I agree that it sucks that ownership is able to hold the sport hostage like this, but it’s disingenuous to say that we have no say in the matter. You absolutely have say. You could walk away tomorrow, and never watch another football game or buy another jersey. That’s voting with your feet. Of course, you’d never do that (and neither would most of the rest of us, unless things really go pear-shaped with the new CBA), but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you’re totally powerless over businesses this size. Who knows, if they let the lockout continue for an entire season or more, there might even be enough groundswell to support another AFL. Ownership has most of the cards, but not all of them.

    I really like reading this blog, Jeremy… I hope to see football come back soon, so that we can stop arguing about labor law and resume discussion of how much the Eagles suck.

  2. mickeyrivers says:

    i love it that a life-long conservative (political death-bed conversion not withstanding) calls for government intervention not on behalf of the working poor, or the soldiers fighting in three or four military interventions, or the kids in Yonkers who will go without kindergarten or preschool, but will have to compete with kids in Chappaqua and Scarsdale on their state tests in first grade, but on behalf of the football fan and the owner of your local Buffalo Wildwings.

    To paraphrase General Macarthur, old panders never die, they just … fade … away.

    Though, I have to say, I’d rather read 1000 Specter op-eds than another interview with Tyree.

  3. Chris says:

    Erik – I agree that we have a say – we can just opt-out. At least the owners, the NFL, and the players don’t use force on us. They don’t force us to do anything. Anything that’s non-coercive is okay by me (I like the non-aggression principle).
    I don’t know if they’re ‘holding us hostage’ though. I don’t think the phrase fits. Hey, they own the teams, they took the risks – they’re looking for a good deal.
    Above all, I hope the govt stays out of it. Even if I have to miss a season. Those people have created enough problems for this country.

  4. LIGiantfan says:

    Arlen Specter is not a conservative and no longer is in office.

    Government should stay out of sports, unless you want that screwed up too like everything else it touches.

    It sucks that we have to deal with the absence of football. I agree I love football better then baseball, but for me it’s entertainment. I didn’t spend millions or billions buying a team and I don’t stake my financial fortune on that one great contract in my free agent year.

    Unfortunately we have to wait and let them fight it out to see what happens. There’s just too much money on the table for both sides to be so stupid to leave it there.

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