Well, here we are, July 13th, and the lockout continues. Training camp is supposed to begin in mere weeks and the two sides still have not signed on the dotted line. Multiple reports from around the sporting world claim everyday that the two sides are getting very close to reaching a deal. But no such deal has been reached. Even if a new deal is struck soon, a delay seems inevitable. Teams will need time to sign rookies, to negotiate with free agents, and to check the health of injured veterans. This thing has dragged on for far too long. It is time to get it done!
While Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees, three of the most well-known and popular players, echo these sentiments, they claim that the players have offered the owners a legitimately fair deal for all and that the owners need to step up and end this ordeal. But just because they say it is a good deal doesn’t guarantee that it is. Time will tell if the owners agree or if they feel that they need more before agreeing to open up the locker rooms across the league.
If you are anything like me, I am getting closer and closer to becoming fed up. Neither side truly cares about the fans, despite their pleas to the contrary. They take for granted that as soon as they decide to shake hands and begin to play football again, that stadiums will continue to sell out, revenue will continue to pour in, and they will continue to become obscenely rich.
While I love football and enjoy few things more than spending my Sunday afternoons watching the Patriots, or any other team for that matter, buckle their chinstraps and get in on, I am not amused by this power play. No one seems too concerned about the places that have lost the much needed revenue because training camp will not be coming this year. Hotels will lose revenue from fans who flock to these small towns to watch their heroes play and, perhaps, to get an autograph or two. Concessions will suffer as well. Is the NFL going to reimburse these honest, hard-working people who, through no fault of their own, will be locked out and losing much needed money?
The players will still get paid, as will the owners. They have huge deals in place with television networks and scores of advertising deals. Perhaps, just maybe, it is time for the fans to send a message to the NFL, players and owner alike, that we are not easy. You cannot take our allegiance for granted, especially when you show no loyalty to your paying customers.
What would the NFL do, on opening weekend, if all the stadiums were empty? What if the fans across this great nation, fans who are dealing with real financial hardship as unemployment continues to be high, decided not to attend that first weekend? Would that finally get the attention of these entitled, over-indulged, rich narcists? I know that there is a better chance that the world will actually end on October 21st than seeing this happen (meaning there is no chance).
But why not? What do we have to lose by making such an epic statement and sending a message to all professional sports that fans are your customers? I, for one, would love to see this happen. Not because I want to see anyone suffer or because I am out for vengeance. But if any other business were to operate in this fashion, it would not last long. No one would put up with such arrogance in any other profession. Now is the time to send that message. Now is the time to the NFL that if they don’t treat their customers well, then they will suffer the consequences. Unless we hit them where it counts most, in the wallet, they will never listen. What do you think sports fans? Should we do this or have I lost it?