Pro football's owners and players have come to an agreement, but have they turned off fans in the process?
Every week, our panel of sports fans discusses a topic of the moment. For today's conversation, Jake Simpson (writer, The Atlantic), Hampton Stevens (writer, ESPN and The Atlantic), Emma Carmichael (writer, Deadspin), and Patrick Hruby (writer, ESPN and The Atlantic) talk about the end of the pro football lockout.
So after 134 days, four lawsuits and one "circumcising mosquitoes" comment from Jerry Jones, the NFL lockout is coming to a close. Free agency may be shorter and a round of preseason games might get the axe, but fall Sundays will be the same as they ever were. Let the rejoicing begin!
And yet... I find myself unable to summon much exuberance. Basically, the last four months was just a bunch of posturing and grandstanding by two groups of very rich people who redistributed some of their multi-billion dollar pile of revenue. The owners get a little more, the players a little less, and Vincent Jackson may or may not be demanding $10 million just for being a named plaintiff in one of the lawsuits. In other news, personal seat licenses are still on sale! Spare me.
I recognize that labor strife is a part of any industry, including the entertainment world (of which sports is definitely a part)—just look at the 2008 writers' strike. But when labor and capital play footsie for four months while the fans/consumers squirm nervously on the sidelines, I lose a little bit of enthusiasm for the sport. And I'm not alone—look at Major League Baseball from 1995-98 or try to find a regular-season NHL game on your TV. The NBA faces a similar protracted work stoppage, and both sides have shown little urgency to fix the problem despite coming off the most entertaining basketball season in recent memory.
How about you, Hampton? Are you frustrated by this or do you already have a beer and a plate of wings in front of you?