The labor dispute between the NFL and NFLPA has escalated over the past couple months increasing the likelihood of a 2011 NFL Lockout beginning March 4. The CBA expires that day and with three weeks remaining negotiations have come to some kind of standstill. Three weeks can be a lifetime when it comes to any sort of negotiation so one could say the situation is not yet dire. Nonetheless, the back and forth between the two sides, particularly in the PR battle, has reached levels unseen in the NFL since the 1987 strike.
As the PR battle has intensified both sides have been reaching out to the fans in an attempt to get them on their side. However, recently we've started seeing an increase in fan opposition to both sides. Recently I received an email from SportsFans.org, which is an advocacy group established in 2009 on behalf of fans. They are looking at everything from stadium financing to a potential BCS playoff, to the current NFL Labor issues.
In regards to the NFL labor issues, SFC has launched a petition via a website called Save Next Season. Some folks might laugh in the face of this kind of fan-based advocacy group. After all, players and owners are dealing with billions of dollars in television revenue, stadium revenue and a variety of other sources. Isn't this little more than spitting into a hurricane? Whether this group is successful in the long term or not, I think the idea of trying to develop fan support and develop an actual voice for fans can be of incredible value.
Sports fans as a collective group have an incredible amount of power, but the problem is sports fans do not act as this collective group. It's not surprising given the fact that fans are so spread out and individually have such a small impact on the finances of professional sports. While it would be hard to generate this kind of movement, can you really fault people for trying?
I can see the importance of the NFL and NFLPA working together to improve the health and safety issues in football. However, the latest news seems to indicate things are once again coming down to the basic split of the revenue pool. There are plenty of other issues involved, but lately the news has been about the billion dollar credit issue. And with a bit more creativity and a lot less stubbornness, it seems like the two sides could figure this issue out. It seems like once the revenue split is figured out most everything else will fall into place.
Since79 posted a link to an interesting article that discussed an alternative arrangement for the revenue split. While this particular suggestion might not work for one reason or another, it does show that creativity could end this labor madness. Given the often 11th-hour negotiations we see in all walks of life we won't know whether a lockout is a sure thing until March 4 at the earliest (if the NFL does in fact go right to a lockout). However, there is still time for these two sides to figure out a fair and equitable split of the billions of dollars on the table. And at the end of the day they all can swim in the money Scrooge McDuck-style.