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Will a CBA be reached before next season?
February 7, 2011 7:37 AM   Subscribe

That sure was a pretty OK game last night! When will the next NFL games be? Let's talk about the impending NFL lockout. The CBA expires in 2013 but the owners have exercised their right to opt out of the agreement two years early. The National Football League Players Association and the owners haven't agreed to a new one, and neither side is very optimistic about the chances for a deal to be reached before March 2011. Among many other terms, the two sides cannot agree on the number of games in a season to be played or the amount of revenue to be shared. Players have been mentioning the impending lockout during interviews. What's at stake? The NFL is very big business.
posted by Michael Pemulis (156 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is like two morbidly obese toddlers fighting over who gets to eat that one extra Twinkie.
posted by Aizkolari at 7:43 AM on February 7, 2011 [18 favorites]


I always want to say "there is too much money at stake for a labor dispute", but that's the thinking of a reasonable person. I think the owners and the players, as a whole, think "there's too much money at stake for there not to be a labor dispute."
posted by dpx.mfx at 7:46 AM on February 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


I hope the eventual deal requires that, if neither of the Super Bowl qualifying teams maintains its own cheerleading squad, that a squad belonging to the hosting facility's home team - or, if none exists, a squad belonging to another NFL team picked at random - be assigned to cheer for both teams.

Cause a cheerleader-less Super Bowl is bogus, man.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:47 AM on February 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


The thing I find interesting is the addition of two more games isn't an addition at all, as two pre-season games will be abandoned. So the players will be asked to play the same number of games they always have, only the games won't be terrible (except for Seattle fans, they'll still suck for you.)

Everyone knows that the preseason games are unwatchable, but this comes almost close to a giant corporation admitting their product is shit, and that's Green Bay winning the Superbowl rare.
posted by Keith Talent at 7:48 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


o man i hope they place the players with the fox robots

SKYNET PLAYS SMASHMOUTH FOOTBALL Y'ALL
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:50 AM on February 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Poor little rich footballers?
posted by blue_beetle at 7:50 AM on February 7, 2011


Poor little rich footballers?

Some of them are wealthy, yes, but the majority of players in the NFL play for less than 3 years and then have a lifetime of serious health problems and no skills, so that 78% of them end up bankrupt.

Personally, I reserve most of my ire for the owners, with the remainder allocated to Brett Favre.
posted by Copronymus at 7:57 AM on February 7, 2011 [99 favorites]


The starters barely play in the pre-season games. If two pre-season games are replaced by two games that count, the guys making the big bucks will be playing a lot more football.
posted by COD at 7:57 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's interesting to me that public opinion seems at all split between the owners and the players. I could see plenty of people commenting in this thread that both sides are overpaid, if you aren't into football, but I really just don't understand supporting the owners over the players.

The players potentially sacrifice the rest of their lives to get paid now. The league minimum isn't really that much when the risks are considered. I think NFL players are pretty reasonably compensated compared to say, bankers, CEOs, or team owners. I don't have much sympathy when you take taxpayer money to build a stadium and then whine about how it's so hard to own something that's worth close to a billion dollars on average. If times are so tough, just sell the team and buy some tropical island or something.
posted by jefeweiss at 7:58 AM on February 7, 2011 [16 favorites]


If they do go to 18 games, I will be very disappointed if the SB is not moved to Presidents Day weekend. It solves the whole "Superbowl Monday" holiday quarrel.
posted by SirOmega at 7:58 AM on February 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


With a league minimum salary for a rookie starting out at about $285000 (I think that is from 2008 from a bit of googling), it's hard for me to get worked up over.

It will be interesting to see the struggle though. Could be much more interesting than most of the games, if things get to the lockout stage, especially to see what the most passionate fans will do when there's no NFL games to watch.

This is the moment that pro bowling has been lying in wait for.
posted by chambers at 7:59 AM on February 7, 2011


The thing I find interesting is the addition of two more games isn't an addition at all, as two pre-season games will be abandoned. So the players will be asked to play the same number of games they always have, only the games won't be terrible (except for Seattle fans, they'll still suck for you.)

Agree. What they are probably worried about is that someone will say "oh, now we aren't getting enough practice and need to add another preseason game or two."

Also that the preseason games are rarely played by the first string players; they are used to flesh out who will be cut or not. This, I think, would actually improve the situation for the marginal NFL player- you just can't play with the same ferocity and focus if the game doesn't count. This is something the addled Mike Ditka is right about: nobody should ever think they own a spot on the team- if you screw up, you lose playing time.
posted by gjc at 7:59 AM on February 7, 2011


Brett who?
posted by caddis at 8:00 AM on February 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


At least one positive that should come out of this is instituting a proper rookie salary scale for draft picks, so that your first round pick doesn't sit out most of training camp so he can get the "money he's worth" even though he has never played a down in the pros.
posted by smackfu at 8:02 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Who sides with the owners of a coal mine against the miners? Same thing here, except working on a football field might be more dangerous than a coal mine especially given the short career of most players. Yeah they get paid a lot but they make exponentially more money for the owners.
posted by ChrisHartley at 8:02 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


A "minimum wage" player in the NFL that lasts only 3 seasons will make about $1,000,000. If you earn that much between ages 21-24 there is simply no excuse for going bankrupt a few years later. I know the NFL does some stuff for rookies in teaching them about how to be rich, but maybe they should do more.
posted by COD at 8:03 AM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Reading the comments on the NPR link depress me, as it seems like many people are more than ready to buy the owners' spin.

I don't think you can really compare preseason and regular-season games, as far as the wear and tear on players.

First they came for the spoiled baseball players
Then the came for the rich little footballers
Then for the autoworkers
Then for the teachers
Then for the seniors
Then we'll all be eating catfood in the dark, but all the nasty unions will be gone!
posted by Steakfrites at 8:03 AM on February 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


The players potentially sacrifice the rest of their lives to get paid now.

A hell of a lot of people do the same thing for far, far, less, and risk it over a longer time. Cops, firefighters, miners, and ocean fisherman, for example, all put their lives at risk every day they work.
posted by chambers at 8:04 AM on February 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


The players might be "playing" the same number of games in an 18 game/2 preseason game season, but in the current system the starters don't play much during the preseason. Two more real games a year would result in a lot more injuries and a diluted product. Personally, I think it's madness and the players are right to object to it.

As for all this "poor little rich footballers" talk, it's more like billionaire owners trying their best to squeeze a few more bucks out of their piggy bank. The vast majority of NFL players are not making millions a year, and even if they do their careers are extremely short, even by the standards of professional sports. I'm not saying anyone has to feel sorry for them, but the power imbalance between the players and the owners is vast and I'm always perplexed when people accuse the players of greed but give the owners a pass.

Or, on preview, what y'all said.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:04 AM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Football is kind of amazing. In any other industry where the main asset is the people doing the job those people take nearly all of the profits. Even in industries where it is incorrectly perceived that people are the main drivers of profits coughwall streetcough, but yet pro sports are a business that is entirely about the players and the owners think they have a right to make a real return on capital. Historically you've seen the successful startup of the AFL, or the failed, but very impactful USFL, and the card they always used to attract talent was cash.

Owners really shouldn't have a leg to stand on.

Basically the owners want to treat the players like slabs of meat, and historically the players union just moo'ed.

I mean yes - the players make salaries that seem unreasonable to normal human beings, but compare them to other highly compensated industries and the numbers don't look so nuts for the rank and file - especially when you consider how few years they can actually earn that income. Then realize that for all of those other highly compensated industries nearly anyone who posts on Metafilter could, given the right conditions and a flip of the coin get a job as an Investment banker or something like that, but probably none of us secretly have the ability to weigh 225lbs and run a sub 4.5 forty lurking inside us waiting to be discovered. If there is any group of labor that should be capturing all of the economics its pro athletes.
posted by JPD at 8:05 AM on February 7, 2011 [16 favorites]


You can be sure that the owners are relying on the public's misunderstanding of the difference between a strike and a lockout. And that the owners look at the last baseball strike and think the sport wasn't irreparably harmed.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:06 AM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


With a league minimum salary for a rookie starting out at about $285000 (I think that is from 2008 from a bit of googling), it's hard for me to get worked up over.

There are a lot of former ball players who are currently struggling with the effects of their short playing careers. What seems fabulously overpaid now will not (likely) seem so generous 10 or 20 years from now when they can't do ANY work.

It also isn't nearly so over-paid when you consider that they are on the field playing against people who make 10x or even 100x what they do. Their risks are the same or worse. The stars can't be stars without the "little guys" absorbing hits.

We tend to only think of the stars, who are easily set for life. The non-stars, not so much. The whole atmosphere screws the non star. They don't get good educations in the college system, and if they only get a few years of NFL salary, they are suddenly almost 30 with NOTHING to show for it except a dusty game ball and an inability to earn.

I won't run the numbers, but I'd bet that a normal professional makes a LOT more money in their careers than your average non-star NFL player. Teachers may start out only making $40k, but they can work for 40 years.
posted by gjc at 8:08 AM on February 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


Cops, firefighters, miners, and ocean fisherman, for example, all put their lives at risk every day they work.

The difference is, (except for fishermen and lumberjacks), those guys' risks are way overstated, while football players risks are understated. The VAST majority of those guys will work their entire lives without so much as a scratch. Can't say that about NFL players.
posted by gjc at 8:10 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some of them are wealthy, yes, but the majority of players in the NFL play for less than 3 years and then have a lifetime of serious health problems and no skills, so that 78% of them end up bankrupt.

Personally, I reserve most of my ire for the owners, with the remainder allocated to Brett Favre.


This needs to be favorited six bajillion times. There are like maybe 50 NFL player millionaires in action. The career lifespan of most players is shorter than 5 years. They are chewed up and spit out and let's remember which douchebags walked through the picket lines last time and threw their worker drones to the wolves. I'm lookin at you, Joe Montana, millionaire.
posted by spicynuts at 8:11 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


chambers: "This is the moment that pro bowling has been lying in wait for."

If there's a lockout, can the Professional Bowlers Association borrow the "Super Bowl" name for the year?
posted by wenestvedt at 8:12 AM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ugh. I have literally no idea how anyone, especially sports fans, sides with the owners in a labor dispute, but they consistently do. Yeah, many football players are rich, and even the ones who make league minimum bring in a fair bit of money. Even leaving aside the long term health problems and the fact that many players do go bankrupt, how in the hell do you justify siding with the people (owners) who are exponentially richer and do less to produce a quality product. I watch football to see players play, I don't watch football to see owners sit in their skybox and eat hor d'oeuvres. In a situation where both sides are trying to get a bigger piece of the pie, I don't see any reason why I should ever begrudge the players a dollar more.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:12 AM on February 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


I won't run the numbers, but I'd bet that a normal professional makes a LOT more money in their careers than your average non-star NFL player. Teachers may start out only making $40k, but they can work for 40 years.

I'm actually sympathetic to the needs of the journeymen, especially given the huge health toll that playing football brings. However, I think this analogy is not a good one. I was a raft guide and kayak instructor when I graduated college. It was something I wanted to do, but I knew that I would not do it forever. One reason was that I made about $8000 for the year. That was my choice, and one I don't regret, but I certainly had to figure out what kind of career to pursue after that, and it involved more schooling and student loans. No one was crying for me (including me).
posted by OmieWise at 8:14 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Teachers may start out only making $40k, but they can work for 40 years.

Teachers don't get endorsement deals, public appearance fees, etc.
posted by now i'm piste at 8:14 AM on February 7, 2011


Some of them are wealthy, yes, but the majority of players in the NFL play for less than 3 years and then have a lifetime of serious health problems and no skills, so that 78% of them end up bankrupt.

ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?
posted by jabberjaw at 8:14 AM on February 7, 2011


The apt comparison is the lottery winner living in a double-wide trailer after losing all of the winnings.

I don't see any basis for slamming the players -- they are participants in a gladiatorial system that promises them untold riches and a lifetime of glory and the reality is apparently that most end up severely disabled and bankrupt. Even the flashy ex-players in suits who comment on the networks look like they're one step from the hospital ward.

If you earn that much between ages 21-24 there is simply no excuse for going bankrupt a few years later.

There isn't? How would you know?
posted by blucevalo at 8:14 AM on February 7, 2011


GO GATORS!
posted by oddman at 8:15 AM on February 7, 2011


A "minimum wage" player in the NFL that lasts only 3 seasons will make about $1,000,000.

Sure, in the same sense that someone who makes zero dollars makes "about $100,000."

And that's not even considering what a league minimum NFL player actually makes after taxes. And do they have 401k and health benefits, or do they have to pay for all those themselves like a law firm partner or other self-employed person? I'm not an expert in how the players' relationships to the team and the league are structured legally, but I would guess that they're not employees but independent contractors and therefore have to a) shoulder a heavier tax burden than an employee would (quarterly estimated payments, higher rates, etc.) and b) pay for their own retirement plan, health insurance, etc.
posted by The World Famous at 8:16 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's some math:

NFL average salary: 350k
NFL average career: 5 years
Total gross earnings: 1.75 million
Career prospects after NFL: grim
Health prospects: knee/hip/shoulder replacements, significantly reduced mobility
Health care: none/Medicare

Average salary of a Software Project Manager: 90k
Average career length: 25 years
Total gross earnings: 2.25 million
Career prospects after retirement: consulting
Health prospects: carpal-tunnel



See that?
posted by spicynuts at 8:17 AM on February 7, 2011 [28 favorites]


Even the flashy ex-players in suits who comment on the networks look like they're one step from the hospital ward.

The HoF-ers standing around for the coin toss did look pretty broke down.

But damn, I hope I look as good as Howie Long when I turn 51.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:18 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


They don't get good educations in the college system, and if they only get a few years of NFL salary, they are suddenly almost 30 with NOTHING to show for it except a dusty game ball and an inability to earn.

Then it is an unwise career path. It's a lucrative and mythologized to the point where its seen by those desperate enough to risk everything on. Its all a gamble, and only a few have lifetime success. It's not like that's a secret, and they were tricked.

I have far more sympathy for the physical damage the game can do than their compensation. That fact should be more prominent in football.

If I offered you $500,000, with the chance it could be $10,000,000, but in return you would have a variable amount of brain damage, and numerous muscle, joint, and tendon damage, and at least 10 years of your life, would you take it?
posted by chambers at 8:20 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


In any other industry where the main asset is the people doing the job those people take nearly all of the profits. Even in industries where it is incorrectly perceived that people are the main drivers of profits coughwall streetcough, but yet pro sports are a business that is entirely about the players and the owners think they have a right to make a real return on capital. Historically you've seen the successful startup of the AFL, or the failed, but very impactful USFL, and the card they always used to attract talent was cash.

I think you understate the overhead involved in running an NFL team. As it is, half the teams in the league wouldn't have survived without TV revenue sharing. If those teams weren't protected, the whole thing would go down the tubes.

And the main asset of the NFL is the fans. Without the fans to buy tickets, jerseys and the products of the sponsors, neither the owners nor the players have anything. And the work of maintaining the fanbase is on the owners. The players have to be FORCED to talk to the media- shows what (some of them) think about the fans.
posted by gjc at 8:20 AM on February 7, 2011


You make $1 million dollars over the ages of 21-24, you are college educated, and you are not putting up any capital. This is a paycheck. I'm not siding with the owners here, but something is very wrong somewhere if that many people are looking lifetime financial security in the eye at age 22, and somehow blowing it. I'm sure a big part of it is that the average NFL rookie believes he is starting a 10 year run. So when he makes $310,000 his rookie year, he lives like that is the bottom end of his expected income every year for the next 10-15 years. Hell, I'm pretty sure at that age I would have done the same thing at that age. That doesn't change the fact that all these guys would be better off if they didn't do that. So how does the Union impart that message to them?
posted by COD at 8:21 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seriously? A footballer can't make $500,000 in those remaining 20 years? Never mind that proper investment of that initial wad of cash should provide income in the form of interest. The real problem is a live-fast culture within pro sports that has them blowing their money as though they'll earn 6 or 7 figures forever. If pro players were more frugal, knowing this money had to last them the rest of their lives, they'd be fine.

Still gonna side with the players on this sort of thing, but I can't feel too bad for a class of people who make more in 5 years than I'll ever make in my life, and just poorly invest it.
posted by explosion at 8:21 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not siding with the owners here, but something is very wrong somewhere if that many people are looking lifetime financial security in the eye at age 22, and somehow blowing it.

How the hell is it lifetime security? At 24 you have all the money you're going to make for the rest of your life pretty much and you have a destroyed body on top of it. How the hell is that lifetime security?
posted by spicynuts at 8:22 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seriously? A footballer can't make $500,000 in those remaining 20 years? Never mind that proper investment of that initial wad of cash should provide income in the form of interest. The real problem is a live-fast culture within pro sports that has them blowing their money as though they'll earn 6 or 7 figures forever. If pro players were more frugal, knowing this money had to last them the rest of their lives, they'd be fine.

You people seriously need to actually do your research and see what happens to THE MAJORITY of the grunts (linemen, etc) in this league. You try making 500k from a wheelchair with no work experience.
posted by spicynuts at 8:23 AM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, what we need is more professional sports teams organized and owned like the Green Bay Packers. It's a shame that their superior organization status is actually outlawed within the NFL, and they're grandfathered in. It's so much better for the team, the players, the fans, if the organization is owned by the community rather than some rich old fuck.
posted by explosion at 8:23 AM on February 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


If I offered you $500,000, with the chance it could be $10,000,000, but in return you would have a variable amount of brain damage, and numerous muscle, joint, and tendon damage, and at least 10 years of your life, would you take it?

Now? No. When I was 15? Hell yes. That is when these guys make the deal with the devil.
posted by gjc at 8:24 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd rather talk about the fact that Pitchers and Catchers report to Spring Training in a week. :)

But on the subject of labour disputes in pro sports, let's keep in mind a couple of things:

1) Until the 70's, in many sports players were the absolute property of their team, with no say in who they played for, and only marginally more say in how much they were paid.
2) Sports is entertainment. You are being entertained.
3) To quote George Will: "No fan in the history of sport has ever paid for a ticket to go see an owner." Players create ALL the value for a sports team and a league.

Be careful before you cast your sympathy with a group of uber-rich owners that generate their profits entirely from the labour of the players (and, for football in particular, the significant injury risk they take on)..
posted by dry white toast at 8:25 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


> GO GATORS!

In my idealized sports world, there would be far more interest in (non-profit) college sports. There would hardly be such a thing as professional sports, save for maybe leagues of trainers and officials. Successful college athletes would feed into national/olympic teams only after they finished their degrees, but would be only paid modest stipends and have room/board taken care of. No massive salaries, and no commercial underwriting since it they would be nationalized programs.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:25 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


//Career prospects after NFL: grim//

Why? They are relatively young, college educated, and have proven that they have the drive and dedication to succeed at something that is very, very hard. If you can make it in the NFL, even for just a few years, you ought to be able to handle the rigors of the New York Life agent training program, or real estate sales, or whatever it is you want to do after the football career is over. John Hannah, former offensive lineman for the New England Patriots, is a dentist. There is no reason any NFL player is not capable of a productive career in something not football related. There are only so many slots for halftime analysts available.
posted by COD at 8:26 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


You people seriously need to actually do your research and see what happens to THE MAJORITY of the grunts (linemen, etc) in this league. You try making 500k from a wheelchair with no work experience.

Don't forget a likely legacy of head injuries.
posted by dry white toast at 8:26 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think you understate the overhead involved in running an NFL team. As it is, half the teams in the league wouldn't have survived without TV revenue sharing. If those teams weren't protected, the whole thing would go down the tubes.



No, I don't. Statements like "wouldn't have survived without revenue sharing" are absurd precisely because the league has revenue sharing, and always has had revenue sharing in the TV era. Those franchises cost structures are built around revenue sharing.

Fans aren't an asset in that they are the customer. Of course the fans are incredibly important, but the fans only come out because they think they are seeing the absolute best product around. If they really cared about how the players treated the fans and interacted with them the WNBA would be the biggest pro sport in the world.
posted by JPD at 8:26 AM on February 7, 2011


they are suddenly almost 30 with NOTHING to show for it except a dusty game ball and an inability to earn.

I started law school when I was almost 30. And I didn't even have a game ball.
posted by The World Famous at 8:26 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


With a league minimum salary for a rookie starting out at about $285000 (I think that is from 2008 from a bit of googling), it's hard for me to get worked up over.

They make that much money to get punched in the head a hundred times a year after having worked for free in high-school and college for the previous eight years, not to mention pee-wee/Pop Warner football. These kids have been beat up for almost a decade before they even start in the NFL. I had two friends who had to have knee surgery because of college ball and never even got close to the NFL but are injured for life just from the attempt at it.

A 1/4 million a year is nothing for what they put themselves through while the owners and TV networks make billions.
posted by octothorpe at 8:27 AM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm amazed already how many people are going on about how well the players are paid and don't mention how much the owners are getting. Because no one besides the owners even knows how much the ownership is getting, with the sole exception of the Green Bay Packers (as they are publicly owned).

You guys have to remember that the average player is playing for three years. When you factor in the outliers (Brett Favre) the median player has to be playing less than three years. The NFL only pays for medical issues for five years after retirement, and part of the negotiations are to expand that to 10.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 8:27 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why? They are relatively young, college educated...

This is adopting an extremely generous interpretation of "college educated".
posted by Joe Beese at 8:28 AM on February 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


Don't forget, when doing this cost benefit analysis of whether or not billionaires should be responsible for the brain damage of the people on their payroll, that the lifestyle of an NFL player is not cheap. And I don't mean bling. I mean that from that starting salary each of these people also has to pay agents, lawyers, trainers, etc. Toss that in with the vulture culture that most of these people have had to put up with their entire lives (or at least since it was known that they had marketable football talent) and, to me, the starting salary seems awfully small, considering the sacrifice.

But I know that's a losing argument. So I'll just instead say -- "siding with the owners? really? wtf? Have you people never heard of Dan Snyder?"
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:28 AM on February 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


In my idealized sports world, there would be far more interest in (non-profit) college sports. There would hardly be such a thing as professional sports, save for maybe leagues of trainers and officials. Successful college athletes would feed into national/olympic teams only after they finished their degrees, but would be only paid modest stipends and have room/board taken care of. No massive salaries, and no commercial underwriting since it they would be nationalized programs.

Seriously? In your ideal world, people who work incredibly hard and sacrifice their bodies would go basically unpaid, while the profits that spectator sports will inevitably produce would go somewhere else? That's fucking sick.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:29 AM on February 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


> That's fucking sick.

Yep. But less so than the NFL.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:29 AM on February 7, 2011


//This is adopting an extremely generous interpretation of "college educated".//

They were handed a free 4 years in college. If they fail to do something with it, who do we blame? The kids, their parents, their high school coaches, all of the above? Yes, there is a problem there, but is does not negate the fact these kids are handed 4 free years in college.
posted by COD at 8:31 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Which side are you on?
posted by ChrisHartley at 8:31 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the increasing concern about long-term brain injuries from repetitive concussions, making players play more games per season seems like a very bad idea. If the management are serious about dealing with the brain injury problem, increasing players' exposure is the last thing they should be doing.
posted by Azara at 8:34 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Any time any major sport approaches a labor stoppage, a large chunk of the public will immediately jump onto the owners' bandwagon no matter what the actual issues are. Some people have a reflexive anti-union bias, some people jeer at "spoiled millionaires paid to play games" (regardless of the elite nature of the top earners, the lack of spending restraint and good judgment on the part of team owners, the significant likelihood of injuries and long-term consequences and the large salary gap between the grunts and the stars), and some people are... well... strange.

In this case, the players are being asked to play more competitive games in a season, increasing the likelihood of injuries. They are being asked to accept (much) less money from media revenue while doing so, and get paid the same for the two extra games as they would've for preseason games. They are meeting resistance towards extending post-career health care, even while it becomes more apparent all the time that football in general (from high school through the NFL) is spraying tau proteins like paintball blasts in players' brains. They're playing in an environment where none of their contracts are guaranteed. When asked what players would do if the owners cut off their health insurance because of the lockout, the league said "They can use COBRA." And if they don't give way on most or all of the above, they're getting locked out next month.

But hey, so what? They're greedy as hell.
posted by delfin at 8:35 AM on February 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


They were handed a free 4 years in college. If they fail to do something with it, who do we blame?

you really need to learn more about the perversions of life for a scholarship D-1 athlete. Except for the rare few who fight for their rights, most high level d-1 players are actively discouraged from getting a real education, and are permitted, nah even encouraged, to believe their odds of playing in the NFL are much greater then reality. I knew a guy who played linebacker at a Big Ten school. Started as a senior, so he was pretty good, but if you start just as a senior you probably aren't making the league. Probably won't even make the combine. He used to start his sentences with "when I make the league". And no one was there to point him the right way.
posted by JPD at 8:36 AM on February 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


I feel like one of the reasons that casual sports fans side with owners in labour disputes is that they see the giant player salaries, and they think "Hey! If the owners can keep salaries down, maybe that means I'll be able to buy nosebleeds for less than $50, and beer for less than 10 bucks a pop".

This is, of course, exactly backwards.

The owners are going to push up prices as much as the market can handle, regardless of the actual operating costs of the business. The high player salaries are the result of high ticket prices, not vice versa. In the 80s the players in the major sports finally realized how much money their bosses were making, and demanded their fair share.

The owners winning the labour dispute means less money for minimum wage grunts, more money for assholes like Dan Snyder, and no difference in cost for us plebs. Support the players.
posted by auto-correct at 8:36 AM on February 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Then it is an unwise career path. It's a lucrative and mythologized to the point where its seen by those desperate enough to risk everything on. Its all a gamble, and only a few have lifetime success. It's not like that's a secret, and they were tricked.

Of course it is. Were you born old? Everyone thinks they're indestructible at 16-25. I can't even gin up a decent argument here having gone over it a million times on Sportsfilter, but I don't get what you're arguing for. If you're arguing that all that ridiculous money should be spent on teachers, cops & firefighters, give it up. It's not happening-- the pool of potential employees for those professions is orders of magnitude larger than people who can play pro sports. And there's a demand for pro sports whereas the others have to be provided by the state because you'd wind up with a Free Rider problem otherwise.

So what's the other argument? That you're prefer to see the money go to a bunch of old white billionaires instead of noveau-riche black kids who don't act right? It's like rooting for The Empire while watching Star Wars. Even George Will once said, "In sports, I am a Marxist". The value of the product is entirely in the labor. Why should revenues be split equally between a legally-enforced oligarchy of owners and the players? Why should salaries be artificially capped? If you think the answer is "Parity increases fan enjoyment", you're dreaming. They're capped because the NFL has far-and-away the shittiest labor union (it's an embarrassment the NFL forced the players to wear patches honoring former NFLPA leader Gene Upshaw when he seemed like nothing more than a Quisling for ownership) and the owners get away with it because the workforce turnover is so quick.

Seriously? A footballer can't make $500,000 in those remaining 20 years? Never mind that proper investment of that initial wad of cash should provide income in the form of interest.

The first problem I have with this argument is most of the people making it have no idea how they would manage those wads of cash either (see this thread about Antoine Walker for examples). After the government takes half off the top, where do you dump that kind of money to make sure it keeps up with inflation and the real interest rate? You can't just pick up a CD with your signing bonus. And it all ignores the fact that many of these guys got fed through college programs that have 0 interest in educating them and are happy to keep them in a fake major that will leave them with nothing but football as a job prospect.

The problem I have with these threads is the loudest voices seem to be people in the Venn Diagram intersection of "Hate Pro Sorts" and "Know Nothing About Finance".
posted by yerfatma at 8:37 AM on February 7, 2011 [37 favorites]


My heart goes out to the Kraft family and those in their employ in an industry that produces nothing other than profit for team owners, stadium owners, parking lot owners, stadium bar owners, souvenir manufacturers, tax-break beneficiaries, regional hostage-takers and low-end retail vendors. All of which the Kraft family is.

My heart also goes out to all of those brave souls who give up careers in everything from medicine and engineering, to education and social outreach, in order to play a schoolboy's game on television a maximum total of twenty-four days a year. At the league minimum of ~$300K.

Aside: If the game was so good and watchable on TV, they wouldn't need to make so much investment in these permanent behemoths. Some temporary bleachers at a fairground or rented college space would suffice. But they're greedy and want to control or get a piece of every single football-related transaction that happens within the fief that they've carved out for themselves.
posted by jsavimbi at 8:38 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is one very simple rule to live by. Always side with labor against management. Always.
posted by JackFlash at 8:38 AM on February 7, 2011 [29 favorites]


Joe Beese: "I hope the eventual deal requires that, if neither of the Super Bowl qualifying teams maintains its own cheerleading squad, that a squad belonging to the hosting facility's home team - or, if none exists, a squad belonging to another NFL team picked at random - be assigned to cheer for both teams.

Cause a cheerleader-less Super Bowl is bogus, man
"

You've always got the GoDaddy commercials.
posted by mkb at 8:39 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


My heart goes out to the Kraft family
My heart also goes out to all of those brave souls
If the game was so good and watchable on TV, they wouldn't need to make so much investment in these permanent behemoths


Congratulations. That is the single dumbest thing I've read in a month of Sundays.
posted by yerfatma at 8:41 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


...i[t] does not negate the fact these kids are handed 4 free years in college.

They aren't handed anything. They attended college for four years but the scholarship depends on their participating full time in the football team which doesn't leave much time for study. Anyone who's gone to a big football/basketball school knows how much pressure there is on athletes to ignore academics and do nothing but practice. And if you get kicked off the team, generally you lose your scholarship so you can't blame the kids for their priorities.
posted by octothorpe at 8:41 AM on February 7, 2011 [4 favorites]



Then it is an unwise career path. It's a lucrative and mythologized to the point where its seen by those desperate enough to risk everything on.


I look forward to seeing you in the next thread about a musician/artist who can't afford a kidney/knee replacement/apartment/food/rehab whatever the fuck. Unwise career path. That's rich. No one should EVER follow their passion or take a gamble that they might actually be the one who does end up with a 15 year career making a bajillion. Nah. Everyone at 18 should just know to pick the wisest career path.
posted by spicynuts at 8:44 AM on February 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


If I offered you $500,000, with the chance it could be $10,000,000, but in return you would have a variable amount of brain damage, and numerous muscle, joint, and tendon damage, and at least 10 years of your life, would you take it?

I'm 36 and broke with pretty much no prospects for wealth in my life that I can see. My answer is "Yes! Where do I sign?".
posted by josher71 at 8:44 AM on February 7, 2011


Ok, this may seem nuts but I would trade a 2.5 mil 25 years injury free career for a 5 year 1.5 mil career with a prospect of injury in a heartbeat. There is no guarantee I won't have to have a hip replacement anyway and I'll still have to go to work every day.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:45 AM on February 7, 2011


This article-a very interesting (and depressing) read about the monumental health risks involved in playing in the NFL-states average playing time as three years. Given this, as well as the huge personal risk involved in playing, I find it hard to argue against the players getting a bigger share of the shockingly large amount of money involved.
posted by Go Banana at 8:46 AM on February 7, 2011


If I offered you $500,000, with the chance it could be $10,000,000, but in return you would have a variable amount of brain damage, and numerous muscle, joint, and tendon damage, and at least 10 years of your life, would you take it?

If I were an athlete and were subject to the promises of money, glory, prestige, close to unlimited sex if you want that, and everything that comes with it? And who in their right mind is gonna tell these guys about the downside?

Have you ever watched a football game on the networks, never mind the Super Bowl? Do you see how much adulation and awe these guys get in their prime? What adolescent who was remotely any good at the sport wouldn't want to shoot for that?
posted by blucevalo at 8:46 AM on February 7, 2011


The NFL only pays for medical issues for five years after retirement, and part of the negotiations are to expand that to 10.

This is a key point. Not only are your career prospects grim after leaving the league, but soon enough you'll have to start paying for the 20 years of abuse your body has taken, in the name of entertainment. Most of us don't have to face that kind of medical future.
posted by milestogo at 8:47 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Let me get this straight. Because a grunt football player makes a fair amount of money (but certainly not enough to sustain him for the rest of his life), it's ok for the NFL to push extra games on the players, further increasing the likelihood that they'll walk away from their career with debilitating injuries?

Athletes are way overpaid. There are people in our country whose discoveries, or dedication to teaching or public service will change the future of humanity and you and I will never know their names, nor will they ever be compensated in the way these people are for what amounts to being entertaining for a handful of Sundays in a year. But just because NFL players make more money than I do doesn't mean that they deserve to be treated as chattel.

Finally, and I haven't worked out all the details on how this works yet, but this is probably all Brett Favre's fault.
posted by helloknitty at 8:48 AM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Be careful before you cast your sympathy with a group of uber-rich owners

I have little sympathy for either side, but the players get a little more than the owners. Let them fight it out, and kudos to the players if they can get more to compensate them.
posted by chambers at 8:48 AM on February 7, 2011


//I knew a guy who played linebacker at a Big Ten school//

I also went to a Big 10 school. And my wife while there tutored a freshman basketball player who went on to play for the Lakers for a year or two before having a decent career overseas. Also, my neighbor played offensive line for Duke while Spurrier was the coach. I know a little about how college sports works. The athlete kids that come from families that value education end up doing fine, whether they ever go pro or not in Sports. The system fails these kids in a lot of ways, but the opportunity to benefit from it, whether they ever pay a minute of professional sports, is there.

All college seniors are delusional about their career options. The middle of the road linebacker that thinks he is going pro is no different than the legions of middle of the road CS majors that think they are getting jobs at Google.
posted by COD at 8:49 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


money, glory, prestige, close to unlimited sex if you want that

Talk about fringe benefits. Also these players should soak the owners for anything they can get. Nobody pays to see the owner.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:49 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


> If I offered you $500,000, with the chance it could be $10,000,000, but in return you would have a variable amount of brain damage, and numerous muscle, joint, and tendon damage, and at least 10 years of your life, would you take it?

No way, but I grew up comfortably middle-class. If I'd been as poor as many of the players are before college and the NFL it might be a different story.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:51 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


you really need to learn more about the perversions of life for a scholarship D-1 athlete. Except for the rare few who fight for their rights, most high level d-1 players are actively discouraged from getting a real education, and are permitted, nah even encouraged, to believe their odds of playing in the NFL are much greater then reality. I knew a guy who played linebacker at a Big Ten school. Started as a senior, so he was pretty good, but if you start just as a senior you probably aren't making the league. Probably won't even make the combine. He used to start his sentences with "when I make the league". And no one was there to point him the right way.

Yeah, what he said. I taught at the University of Florida and the idea that these kids get--or are encouraged to get--real educations is a joke.

They stopped giving me student athletes when I started giving (deserving) student athletes Cs.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:51 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Football as a sport is fundamentally broken.

A football player with a "successful" career is virtually guaranteed a life of chronic pain and mental issues. Some metric of "success!" No serious attempts have been made to make the game safer for its players. There is no other industry in America that shows such callous disregard for the health and safety of its workers. The fundamental rules of the game need to be changed to fix this. And, yes. I do understand that we'll end up with a sport that more closely resembles rugby if we follow through on such a rewrite of the rules.

I understand why the salary caps exist, although the profits being made off of the players is outright extortionate compared to how they are compensated.

A football stadium is gigantic, fantastically expensive (often funded by taxpayers; the Cowboys stadium where the Super Bowl was played last night cost $1.3 billion), has an incredibly short ~30 year lifespan (the old Giants Stadium was demolished before it was completely paid off), and only gets used ~10 times a year. Demands from owners have also rendered most of these stadiums unusable for other sports or events.

Because of the low rates of usage, it's not practical to build them in downtown urban areas (and the ones that are mostly suck). It's also not cost-effective to run public transportation to them. Owners (such as the Landover Redskins' infamous owner, Dan Snyder) successfully made it illegal to walk to the stadium from privately-owned parking lots or public transportation facilities. They've also managed to block attempts to run public transportation all of the way to the stadium, virtually mandating that people drive to games (needlessly stressing public infrastructure) and paying exorbitant parking fees to park their car in an impervious lot the size of a small city. The Redskins actually managed to secure a federal injunction preventing Metrobuses from running directly to FedEx Field, and prevented the Metrorail extension to Largo (which was basically a gift to the team) from running all the way to the stadium itself.

A notable exception must be made here for the new Meadowlands Stadium. The new Meadowlands Rail Line exceeded ridership expectations by almost an entire order of magnitude, proving that people will take public transportation to a football game if it is available, cheap, and convenient. They even run a few trains all the way from Connecticut, which is rather unusual for a commuter rail agency to do. Also, by housing two teams in one stadium, the building gets more use, and there seems to be a good-faith effort to foster Smart Growth communities around the area.

Our public universities are being shamelessly used as a recruitment tool for professional football. Athletes receive a free education, off of the backs of other students and taxpayers. The value of this "education" is questionable at best, and graduation rates among Division 1A athletic programs are nothing to be proud of. "Scholar athletes" do exist, but they tend not to play Div-1A football. These programs are profitable for some larger universities, but tend to be money-drains on any school smaller than 15,000 students, and universally distract from the university's stated academic mission. The same thing happens at the High School level, where football is outright fetishized.

Convicted felons need to be permanently barred from the NFL. 8 players in last night's game have been formally charged with rape, and Michael Vick somehow still has a job. The NFL's got a serious image problem headed its way, and has done virtually nothing to combat it.

Of course, this is Football. The American dream. I do not hold out hope that anything will be done to correct any of the issues mentioned above. USA! USA! USA!
posted by schmod at 8:55 AM on February 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


All college seniors are delusional about their career options. The middle of the road linebacker that thinks he is going pro is no different than the legions of middle of the road CS majors that think they are getting jobs at Google.


yeah except the kid who can't get the job at google still has a CS degree and a clue about how to behave in the world. The Football players got a degree in "insert your mockable major of choice" and is woefully unprepared for anything life is throwing at him.
posted by JPD at 8:56 AM on February 7, 2011


On the other hand, the middle-of-the-road linebacker is getting a lot more sex than the middle-of-the-road CS major.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:00 AM on February 7, 2011


Games that inevitably give most players brain damage should be illegal.
posted by koeselitz at 9:00 AM on February 7, 2011


And who in their right mind is gonna tell these guys about the downside?

I would consider someone that was in their right mind to tell someone who's choosing to devote his career to professional sports to tell them the downside, as well as the upside.

Have you ever watched a football game on the networks, never mind the Super Bowl? Do you see how much adulation and awe these guys get in their prime? What adolescent who was remotely any good at the sport wouldn't want to shoot for that?

Of course I have. Should the level of this adoration, and the mythology of the pro sports legends, be taken and absorbed without question? Of course not. This mythology of the athlete and the tradition and nationalism it's intertwined with, makes any real change unlikely.
posted by chambers at 9:00 AM on February 7, 2011


As best I understand it, they want to extend the schedule by 12.5% and not adjust the pay (accordingly or otherwise).

The owners, some of whom probably tell themselves they started with the same level playing field (no pun intended) as the players and the people who sell beer in the venues, reek of being rich people who are making huge money... and wanting more.
posted by ambient2 at 9:02 AM on February 7, 2011


freshman basketball player who went on to play for the Lakers for a year or two before having a decent career overseas.

Let's do the math here - there are 300-ish D-1 basketball programs. Each team has 12 scollies. So figure 3 per year. That's 900 players completing the careers every year (note - not graduating, completing). About 30 Rookies make NBA rosters every year.

And the math is MUCH worse in the NFL. And that's before you get to factoring in how short the average career really is.

Now what % of these kids approach their first year of school thinking the league is a foregone conclusion? 50%+?
posted by JPD at 9:02 AM on February 7, 2011


A hell of a lot of people do the same thing for far, far, less, and risk it over a longer time. Cops, firefighters, miners, and ocean fisherman, for example, all put their lives at risk every day they work.

Without getting into the massive back and forth that these threads always produce, it's important to consider from a purely economic standpoint that a lot more people possess the skill-set to be cops, firefighters, miners, etc. than to be professional football players. This is just one reason, from a purely economic standpoint, it does make sense that they would be more handsomely compensated.
posted by rollbiz at 9:07 AM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have little sympathy for either side, but the players get a little more than the owners.

F-. That's how they split the revenues the owners declare. Not even close to all of the revenues they make. As an example, luxury boxes (you know those 60 or so things that ring most new stadiums and cost $100,000 or more a year?) are treated as land/ property and not as part of ticket revenues. Teams that are vertically integrated like the Patriots don't feed the parking revenue or the million dollars a year they charge for rent to each McDonalds on the ends of the stadium, etc, etc. Everybody makes a lot of money, but the idea that it's an even split now is way off base.

At these numbers, there's no real concept of "fair" as far as I can see, but why believe what ownership wants you to hear? They won't even let the NFLPA air ads during football.
posted by yerfatma at 9:08 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Worry not, folks, it's an entertainment business, whether it's being played on the filed, in a courtroom or behind the closed doors of a conference room. It's all about entertaining for the maximum audience possible and the NFL owners aren't as stupid as those in the NHL, knowing that if they stop entertaining for a moment, someone will step in for them.

Convicted felons need to be permanently barred from the NFL.

Yes, and Roman Polansky should be barred from making movies, and possibly castrated, but I still own The Pianist.
posted by jsavimbi at 9:10 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Games that inevitably give most players brain damage should be illegal.

Not sure how you feel about soccer, but that's a pretty real problem for that sport as well.
posted by kmz at 9:12 AM on February 7, 2011


I mean that the players get a little more sympathy than the owners in my opinion. They players can make any amount they can fight for and get, I have no problem with that.
posted by chambers at 9:12 AM on February 7, 2011


They won't even let the NFLPA air ads during football.

not only that - but did you see the insane propaganda "we are america" campaign the NFL owners ran during the pregame. Beyond parody.
posted by JPD at 9:13 AM on February 7, 2011


did you see the insane propaganda "we are america" campaign

Was that the Michael Douglas-narrated "America's not licked yet!" spot? ["We overcame adversity on 9-11... Just like the Steelers overcame adversity to make it to the Super Bowl!".]

It seems that the realization that the empire is in permanent decline is now widespread enough that propagandists feel obliged to address it, even if only with denial.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:20 AM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I would consider someone that was in their right mind to tell someone who's choosing to devote his career to professional sports to tell them the downside, as well as the upside.

What I should have said was "someone in their right mind" in terms of persuading the best athletes to be recruited into the system that will maim them for life and thereby maximizing revenue -- not someone in their right mind from a moral standpoint. Of course I agree with you that any rational recruiting would involve a sober assessment of the pros and cons. But yeah dream on.

This mythology of the athlete and the tradition and nationalism it's intertwined with, makes any real change unlikely.

That's sort of what I was trying to say. You said it better.
posted by blucevalo at 9:23 AM on February 7, 2011


A football player with a "successful" career is virtually guaranteed a life of chronic pain and mental issues. Some metric of "success!" No serious attempts have been made to make the game safer for its players. There is no other industry in America that shows such callous disregard for the health and safety of its workers. The fundamental rules of the game need to be changed to fix this.

It goes deeper than that; the fundamental roots of the CULTURE surrounding football in the US need to change as well. The way that high school football in much of the US borders on being a sacrament. The Macho Row mentality where the proper response to an injury is "rub some dirt on it and keep going." The ridiculousness of the concept of the "amateur" college football star. The glorification of a sport where on every play, players line up and smash into each other as hard as they can. And then again. And again. And again.

Football is not irredeemable by any means, but if I had a son, I'd much rather have him take up MMA than football.
posted by delfin at 9:25 AM on February 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


All college seniors are delusional about their career options. The middle of the road linebacker that thinks he is going pro is no different than the legions of middle of the road CS majors that think they are getting jobs at Google.

The fuck?

I was a middle of the road CS major. I didn't get a job at Google. Instead, I got a job at a local corporation doing work I like, which causes me no physical harm, and which instead of causing brain damage, probably reduces my chances of Alzheimer's slightly based on recent research. It's entirely reasonable for me to expect that I'll be able to keep working for several decades, doing work similar to or related to my current job, leveraging at least some of my education. Further, I can expect that work to provide me with health insurance, even though my job probably won't even injure me!

The difference between me not working at Google and a college football player not getting into the NFL is the difference between apples and an orangutan.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:28 AM on February 7, 2011 [20 favorites]


If football is like a play, then what happened was the owners --in their near-infinite greed-- began several years ago charging people to come see dress rehearsals and auditions. And people came. And then --since greed grows whenever it's fed-- the owners started charging as much for the rehearsals and auditions as they did for the regular show. Still people came. But they complained that all they were getting was rehearsals. Since it is the rule of law in America that once you grotesquely overcharge for something crappy, stopping gouging the fans for what is essentially rehearsal and audition time is not even remotely considered. The nfl now claims the will of the people is behind the owners; it's the fans who want the rehearsals to be regular performances, the fans are being cheated, we poor owners are just trying to make the fans happy.

Bullshit: the only thing an owner likes about a fan is his or her wallet. And screw you if your wallet is empty; we can always move your team to LA to fester unloved and unnoticed.

Essentially the owners keep kicking the fans in the ass as hard as they can, and when the fans turn around, they point at the players. And the fans aren't too bright.
posted by umberto at 9:46 AM on February 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


It goes deeper than that; the fundamental roots of the CULTURE surrounding football in the US need to change as well. The way that high school football in much of the US borders on being a sacrament. The Macho Row mentality where the proper response to an injury is "rub some dirt on it and keep going." The ridiculousness of the concept of the "amateur" college football star. The glorification of a sport where on every play, players line up and smash into each other as hard as they can. And then again. And again. And again.

Coincidentally, all of these things are what makes football successful and the overwhelming success amongst American sports. And --given the nature of the debate on much larger topics than mere gridirony-- I doubt this will change anytime soon. People long for glory and stardom and physical prowess more than justice or sensible economics or societal repair.
posted by umberto at 9:52 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


And then --since greed grows whenever it's fed-- the owners started charging as much for the rehearsals and auditions as they did for the regular show.

Not sure that's right. I went to a preseason game this year and paid $8 for my ticket. The same seat during the season was about $80.
posted by grubi at 9:57 AM on February 7, 2011


Convicted felons need to be permanently barred from the NFL.

Is there a full list of jobs that criminals, having already done their time, should be barred from? I'm curious what else is on it.
posted by inigo2 at 9:58 AM on February 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh, I agree there. I'm not saying it's GOING to happen -- merely that it's needed.
posted by delfin at 9:58 AM on February 7, 2011


I went to a preseason game this year and paid $8 for my ticket. The same seat during the season was about $80.


eh all that tells you is what the economics of selling tickets really are. Now realize that the owners want to add two more of those games @80/head w/o paying the players more.
posted by JPD at 10:00 AM on February 7, 2011


"Is there a full list of jobs that criminals, having already done their time, should be barred from? I'm curious what else is on it."

Oh, I get the feeling some people just like to effectively ban them from every job, then demand long detention under 3-strikes laws after they return to crime. It seems less economically effective to pay for them to be housed then to collect tax revenue from them but there we are, I guess.
posted by jaduncan at 10:01 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


eh all that tells you is what the economics of selling tickets really are.

I'm not doubting that. I was simply addressing the one point that preseason costs as much as regular season.

On the whole, yeah, the owners can eat a bag of shit.
posted by grubi at 10:01 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not sure that's right. I went to a preseason game this year and paid $8 for my ticket. The same seat during the season was about $80.

You don't own season tickets then-- most (all?) clubs now require season ticket holders to fork over for all 4 preseason games. And it ain't 8 bucks a ducat, as evidenced by the emails I get all through August from friends trying to unload their preseason tickets on me at face value.
posted by yerfatma at 10:15 AM on February 7, 2011


The system fails these kids in a lot of ways, but the opportunity to benefit from it, whether they ever pay a minute of professional sports, is there.

I used to tutor athletes in college. The university I attended had a special tutoring program for athletes that was completely free for them. It was only available to the athletic program. Most of the students that ended up using it were the ones that were forced to use it by their coaches because their grades to Introduction to Geology or the like were so bad they risked becoming ineligible to play. Every student I taught was getting 100% free ride. They were all given rooms in the renovated brownstones while the rest of the undergraduate swine were crammed into giant residential blocks designed by prison architects. (Really.)

Every single one of them was convinced they were going to be part of the 0.001% of college athletes that go pro.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:15 AM on February 7, 2011


So, given how Green Bay is owned, I'm guessing Green Bay players won't be locked out... which if the other teams are, does that mean GB gets another Super Bowl win by default?

(I know they don't, just a little hypothetical humor...emphasis on little)
posted by edgeways at 10:24 AM on February 7, 2011


If there's a stoppage, the owners should be forced to repay taxpayers for all the free stadiums they were handed and won't be using.

Taxpayer funded arenas are one of the worst examples of corruption capitalism.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:26 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've known two NFL players. One retired in the late 1980s after a six- or seven-year career as an offensive lineman. He made good but not great money, bought some land and some horses (his wife rides), and worked as a boilermaker, eventually starting his own company that handles cleaning and maintenance at power plants. He's doing just fine (these guys get paid crazy money to be glorified welders: it costs a LOT to take a power plant offline for repairs).

The other is a current player (Falcons wide receiver, number 84, probably one of the top five guys in the league at his position) whom I met because he and his college roommate shared an apartment above a friend of mine. He's a good kid; maybe not a rocket scientist but blessed with a phenomenal work ethic.

In both cases, these two very different men told me much the same thing: they'd play for free. They love the game. Just to have a chance to compete with the best on a big stage. Just to have their names mentioned in the same paragraph as Jerry Rice, Walter Peyton, Johnny Unitas.

NFL owners know this. They use this. They exploit it. And for decades the player's union has been little more than the owners' catspaw.

If it takes a strike to resolve this, well, I won't be happy, but I can live without football for a season of it means the players get treated more fairly.

Because whatever you think about the merits of the game itself, whenever you watch the NFL you're watching men who love what they do, doing it to the best if their abilities. And there's something beautiful about that.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:27 AM on February 7, 2011 [14 favorites]


Cops, firefighters, miners, and ocean fisherman, for example, all put their lives at risk every day they work.

Well, yeah. And if this were a dispute between football players, and firefighters, I'd side with the firefighters.

But it isn't.
posted by steambadger at 10:30 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


these two very different men told me much the same thing: they'd play for free.

Some NBA great, whose name I can't recall, is quoted as saying: "If playing basketball was a crime, I'd be in prison for life."
posted by Joe Beese at 10:32 AM on February 7, 2011


In both cases, these two very different men told me much the same thing: they'd play for free. They love the game.

There's certainly a spectrum to this. Indeed, there are tons and tons of examples of guys that would play for free, as well as guys that just don't care about the long term health effects.

But at the other end of the spectrum, you see guys that recognize they have a skill and get paid for it, and if they weren't getting paid, their competitive attention would turn elsewhere. Golf, for example.

In my sports experience, I'd say that NHL players are the most die-hard "I'd do it without the money," followed closely by football players. And for two different reasons: Culturally, for hockey, but for NFL players, it's the realization that there is NO pick-up-and-play culture for this form of the sport. This is the end of the road for tackle football. You don't get to go play this game on the weekends with your buddies; no one's going to throw the pads on for that.

(One wonders why they don't try to play professional rugby. Gimme Brian Uhrlacher at the end of his career and six months to train...)

The spectrum of baseball players leans heavily toward "don't give a shit about the game, but it beats selling insurance." Basketball players would just play, because the culture of that sport allows the most for easy pick-up-and-play experiences.

Ironically, I would say the basketball players that love the sport the most are the Americans that go to Europe to play. You'd think it was the money (and it's pretty good), but invariably, they're doing it to stay on the NBA radar screen in a way that the D-League can't provide.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:43 AM on February 7, 2011


I went to a preseason game this year and paid $8 for my ticket. The same seat during the season was about $80.

Preseason and regular season tickets are identical in cost at Foxboro, at least for season-ticket holders.
posted by rollbiz at 10:50 AM on February 7, 2011


In any other industry where the main asset is the people doing the job those people take nearly all of the profits.

I'm not so sure about that. For example, big law firm associate attorneys (the firm's "assets that walk out the door every night") historically were paid about 1/3 of their billings, and I think less in the current market.
posted by exogenous at 11:06 AM on February 7, 2011


Preseason and regular season tickets are identical in cost at Foxboro, at least for season-ticket holders.

Ah. Not a season ticket holder here, and it was to see the Bucs lose to the Jags. And then a couple months later, I paid $75 a seat for the close-to-the-field end zone when my Lions beat the Bucs in overtime. (I was in the crowd for the tying and winning field goals; you can see me on TV... sort of).
posted by grubi at 11:06 AM on February 7, 2011


big law firm associate attorneys (the firm's "assets that walk out the door every night") historically were paid about 1/3 of their billings, and I think less in the current market.


the correct analogy would be how the working partners remunerate themselves. A partnership is sort of a hybrid wrt to this analogy though, in that the partners are both the assets that can walk out the door, and the holders of what very little capital a law firm requires. Also associate attorneys are generally much more fungible then backup linebackers
posted by JPD at 11:17 AM on February 7, 2011


Every single one of them was convinced they were going to be part of the 0.001% of college athletes that go pro.

And what's really sad is that the system itself starts indoctrinating them to think that way from Day 1, using some of the same "Sesame Street" language conservatives often mock liberals for spouting: "Just believe in yourself!"

Didn't get the result you wanted? You didn't believe in yourself hard enough! You could have made the NFL if you "wanted" it hard enough!

And what's really, really, really sad is that a very large portion of the 99.999% of guys who don't make it to the NFL and end up getting their hearts and bodies crushed will nevertheless turn around and stick their own sons right into that same abusive, human-grinding system.

But with that said, I agree 100% with this:

Because whatever you think about the merits of the game itself, whenever you watch the NFL you're watching men who love what they do, doing it to the best if their abilities. And there's something beautiful about that.

Indeed.
posted by lord_wolf at 11:18 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


In any other industry where the main asset is the people doing the job those people take nearly all of the profits.

I was thinking about this earlier ... there's an argument that a football team's main asset is not the people doing the job.

Rather, it's the franchise. Meaning, the ownership stake in an exclusive, multi-billion business that has a socialist business model of intense revenue sharing between franchises.

Your player roster will almost completely turn over every five years. But you will almost never be unprofitable once you're "in the club" of franchise owners.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:19 AM on February 7, 2011


Because whatever you think about the merits of the game itself, whenever you watch the NFL you're watching men who love what they do, doing it to the best if their abilities. And there's something beautiful about that.

Yeah, that line of thinking sort of falls apart when you realize that exactly the same thing could be said about the United States Senate.
posted by The World Famous at 11:19 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


no the value of the franchise only exists because of the TV contract, the TV contract only exists because fans want to watch the players on the field. And they only want to watch their best players compete against the other best players. Remember the XFL - NBC's cut rate effort to create a competing league? The AFL only succeded because they paid up for the best players (or at least attempted to, forcing the merger) The USFL failed because the NFL had figured out the game better by then.

The sort of proof of this is the power the big clubs in Europe have over their domestic leagues through the persistent threat of leaving to form a super league. The US has a bunch of fudges to anti-trust rules that prohibit this happening otherwise you'd see the same thing here.

The franchise in and of itself actually has little value beyond the claim on league revenues. Popularity and attendence will persist, but evenutally they will decline. Look at the Lions or the Rams.
posted by JPD at 11:34 AM on February 7, 2011


All college seniors are delusional about their career options. The middle of the road linebacker that thinks he is going pro is no different than the legions of middle of the road CS majors that think they are getting jobs at Google.

No, it's like a middle of the road CS major thinking that they are going to make $100 million by joining a startup out of college. Getting a job at Google is like a middle of the road linebacker thinking that he can get a full scholarship - by no means a sure thing, but not an unreasonable hope.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 11:43 AM on February 7, 2011


The USFL failed because the NFL had figured out the game better by then.

Actually they failed when they competed directly against the NFL. The lawsuit against the NFL didn't help either.

Look at the Lions or the Rams.

The Rams, while terrible a few years ago, are on an upswing and, in the past 15 years, have won a Super Bowl and made it to a second. They also have the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year - Sam Bradford. The Lions, though not contenders this past season, are actually showing signs of life thanks to better drafting (adios Matt Millen), specifically NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Ndamukong Suh.
posted by playertobenamedlater at 11:52 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Lions! Whoo!
posted by grubi at 11:56 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


the point about the Rams was entirely to do with the drop off in attendence during the long decline from super bowl to being able to draft Bradford - as a point towards "franchises in and of themselves have limited value" I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of the improvement on the field for both teams.

Granted the local economy in Detroit is very bad, but they are one of the worst attended teams in NFL, while the other major franchises in Detroit have held up much better on a relative basis. I'd argue its partially due to performance on the field.


USFL failed because they tried to use the exact same playbook the AFL had used (competing against them) on a bet they could force a merger before they ran out of cash. They ran out of cash.
posted by JPD at 12:00 PM on February 7, 2011


The US has a bunch of fudges to anti-trust rules

That's baseball you're thinking of there.

The NFL doesn't have the same anti-trust exemption, which is why you saw the USFL, XFL (and the World League, back in the 70s) in the first place. Heck, the modern NFL was created via a merger between the NFL and the AFL, which created the Super Bowl.

Popularity and attendence will persist, but evenutally they will decline. Look at the Lions or the Rams.

Yes, look at them. Still in the league. Not going anywhere. Look at Cincinnati, Kansas City, Cleveland. Old franchises famous for making, not spending, money. For decades. Look at Al Davis, whom every other owner hated at one point. Still in the league.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:00 PM on February 7, 2011


Yes, look at them. Still in the league. Not going anywhere. Look at Cincinnati, Kansas City, Cleveland. Old franchises famous for making, not spending, money. For decades. Look at Al Davis, whom every other owner hated at one point. Still in the league.


Yes that is exactly the point. Those franchises can do that because of the TV revenues. The TV revenues come because of the players.
posted by JPD at 12:02 PM on February 7, 2011


John Feinstein has written an excellent book that details how, exactly, a player's life in the NFL works. It's called Next Man Up, and it makes it abundantly clear how completely the owners dominate the NFL.
posted by scrump at 12:03 PM on February 7, 2011


That's baseball you're thinking of there.


baseball has an explicit anti-trust exemption, but all of the major leagues in the US act in manners that should any other industry copy them the DOJ would be on them like white on rice. For example the EU has banned a multitude of behaviors that we take as second nature in US pro sports at being anti-competitive and collusive. A salary cap for example.
posted by JPD at 12:04 PM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is nothing about the anti-trust exemption that prohibits someone from starting a competing baseball league. The anti-trust exemption itself has its roots in the farm league system more than anything else.
posted by JPD at 12:05 PM on February 7, 2011


exogenous: big law firm associate attorneys (the firm's "assets that walk out the door every night") historically were paid about 1/3 of their billings, and I think less in the current market.


JPD: the correct analogy would be how the working partners remunerate themselves.

I disagree: law firm associates and NFL players are employees, not owners as are the partners.
posted by exogenous at 12:16 PM on February 7, 2011


The analogy to a law firm would be a football team owned by its players. The partners in a law firm are not purely capitalists.
posted by JPD at 12:22 PM on February 7, 2011


The best case scenario would be if the NFL Owners' labor practices are so idiotically self-destructive that they totally decimate the sport, including the college-based 'minor leagues'. And soon. (And there is solid evidence that some if not most of the owners would have the Goose That Lays Their Golden Eggs for Thanksgiving dinner if they could) When the Packers won the Big Game yesterday, I smiled thinking of the symmetry of the same team winning the first and last Super Bowl.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:41 PM on February 7, 2011


In looking around I did find one interesting thing that I had never heard of. Apparently, during the strike in 1982 the NFLPA tried to start it's own competing league, the Player's All Star Season. They did a T.V. deal with Ted Turner, and not many good players took part. It was eventually undone by a court ruling that would have tied up the league in endless court battles, but it was an interesting experiment.
posted by jefeweiss at 1:09 PM on February 7, 2011


"They were handed a free 4 years in college. If they fail to do something with it, who do we blame? "

Yeah, right. My wife's cousin was recruited by several universities to play linebacker and accepted a full scholarship to one of them. Academics wasn't even on the radar. After the first year he quit the team, gave up the scholarship, came home and enrolled at a state school on his own dime. He was never going to get any kind of useful education on that football scholarship.
posted by MikeMc at 1:40 PM on February 7, 2011


Just thinking about the wife's cousin I used as an example...the kid loved to play and he was good (which would explain the multiple scholarship offers I guess) but he said the program he was in just sucked the enjoyment out of the game for him. He knew he wasn't NFL caliber and he just wanted out of the football machine. For a "dumb jock" (which is what most people considered him) I'd say the kid was pretty smart to just walk away. Some people criticized him for giving up the ride but I think he did the right thing.
posted by MikeMc at 1:52 PM on February 7, 2011


"Is there a full list of jobs that criminals, having already done their time, should be barred from? I'm curious what else is on it."

I'm not saying that felons should legally be barred from playing professional football. What I am saying is that the NFL (one particular professional football league) should stop hiring them as a matter of policy. There are plenty of employers that won't hire convicted felons.
posted by schmod at 1:53 PM on February 7, 2011


Bulgaroktonos: "Ugh. I have literally no idea how anyone, especially sports fans, sides with the owners in a labor dispute, but they consistently do."

I think it's probably the same reason so many people tend to agree with giving the rich tax cuts. It's pure aspirational hubris. Listen, I can never play in the NFL, I can't manage that level of fitness, I suck at sports, and my body just wasn't engineered for it. I *could* however, if I won a few lotteries or maybe if a few of the ideas in my head come together just right be RICH, and own a sports team.

Or it could just be racism.

It probably doesn't help the players that much that a not insignificant portion of their biggest stars are total assholes. Ben Roethlisberger, alleged rapist. Michael Vick, dog brutalizer. Brett Favre, sexual harasser. etc.
posted by graventy at 2:36 PM on February 7, 2011


I'm not saying that felons should legally be barred from playing professional football. What I am saying is that the NFL (one particular professional football league) should stop hiring them as a matter of policy. There are plenty of employers that won't hire convicted felons.

WTF? I'm not saying they shouldn't be allowed to try and get a job with the only skill they possess...I'm just saying that if they try, no good employer should ever hire them. Sweet. That will encourage them to stay on the straight and narrow...
posted by umberto at 2:52 PM on February 7, 2011


The best case scenario would be if the NFL Owners' labor practices are so idiotically self-destructive that they totally decimate the sport, including the college-based 'minor leagues'. And soon. (And there is solid evidence that some if not most of the owners would have the Goose That Lays Their Golden Eggs for Thanksgiving dinner if they could) When the Packers won the Big Game yesterday, I smiled thinking of the symmetry of the same team winning the first and last Super Bowl.

That would be so awesome! Then those of us who like watching professional football could never see it again! Sweet! And all those people in support jobs could be out of work, too! Cool!

But then what would spew purposeless hate toward?
posted by papercake at 3:01 PM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


^you (spew... etc.)
posted by papercake at 3:02 PM on February 7, 2011


The USFL actually was somewhat successful at creating an alternative product to the NFL. They were able to sign some of the bigger college stars of the time. Reggie White, Jim Kelly, Steve Young, Doug Flutie & Herschal Walker, among others, all made their professional debut in the USFL.

The killing blow for the USFL was the abandonment of the Spring-Summer schedule in favor of trying to compete against the NFL directly in the fall (in order to force a merger). Check out the ESPN 30 for 30 film "Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL?" (Spoiler: It was NJ Generals owner Donald Trump).

As far as this upcoming NFL season goes, the NFLPA is stupid to give in to any of the owner's demands. They've already adopted a pretty smart media strategy, by framimg the issues in terms of player health and safety, rather than making an issue of how much tinier their piece of the money pie is going to get under the owner's demands.
posted by KingEdRa at 3:23 PM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just imagine there is no football. Would our lives be any worse for it?
posted by Vibrissae at 4:01 PM on February 7, 2011


Just imagine there is no X. Would our lives be any worse for it? As with anything else YMMV.
posted by HyperBlue at 4:03 PM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


without X my son's name would be Ale. Without football I'd have to find some other way to spend Saturdays and would toss frisbees on Thanksgiving with my bros and nephews.
posted by HyperBlue at 4:05 PM on February 7, 2011


Just imagine there is no football. Would our lives be any worse for it?

I think Starbucks makes shitty overpriced coffee, but I don't sneer at people who enjoy it. And yes, my life WOULD be worse without football. Watching football gives me pleasure. Talking about football with my friends brings me happiness. Attending a Falcons game with my best friend and his husband is one of the highlights of my year. So, yeah, my life WOULD be worse. I wouldn't be crippled or maimed or hungry or deprived or anything significantly awful, but it would be worse. Scoff if it makes you feel better. I don't really give a fuck what you think.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:07 PM on February 7, 2011 [16 favorites]


Imagine there's no football
It's easy if you try
No gridiron below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
playing pingpong all day
WooHoo!

You may say I'm a Cheesehead
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
Smashing heads can be great fun!
posted by HyperBlue at 4:13 PM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just imagine there is no football. Would our lives be any worse for it?

Sorry, but I was using all my imagination wondering what it would be like if people didn't post in threads they weren't interested in, just to let everyone know how much their favorite band sucks.

Personally, no football for a year would be deeply unpleasant. It's fun to watch, and it's one of the best ways I have of relating to members of my extended family that I might otherwise not be able to hold a conversation with (no common ground other than football, it's not exactly uncommon).

I hope they don't go to 18 games. Teams like the Packers (may they burn in hellfire) having 15 players on injured reserve (unable to perform, and essentially removed from the roster for the year) would likely be the norm, rather than the exception. The quality of play can't help but suffer when teams end up having to put third string players into games of the utmost importance.

*Cough*Hanie*Cough.

/bitter sobbing
posted by Ghidorah at 4:25 PM on February 7, 2011




Just imagine there is no football. Would our lives be any worse for it?


What... no redneck television? No continuous stream of beer commercials.
posted by Jumpin Jack Flash at 4:51 PM on February 7, 2011


I can't believe people getting upset at how much players make. Why shouldn't they be able to command as high a salary as the market can command. The owners are conspiring to limit wages so they can maximize their profits. The games of designated free agents, capology and the lack of a gaurantees contract are major issue. NFL players are extremely talented athletes and they should get paid a premium based on the profits ad audience yet can help a team bring in. 285k/ year is less than a partner at a law firm, surgeons, physicians an investment banker, a top salesperson, or other high wage jobs.
posted by humanfont at 5:14 PM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


What... no redneck television? No continuous stream of beer commercials.

Late, judgmental and divisive is no way to go through life, grampa.
posted by yerfatma at 6:52 PM on February 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


no redneck television?

You want the thread on NASCAR, two doors down, then turn left. Always left.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:29 PM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


What if, in addition to going up to 18 games, they added an overall bye week to the second half of the regular season? It would make it so the players are more fresh as the season heats up at the end.
posted by Night_owl at 10:14 PM on February 7, 2011


One of the problems of adding games (and reducing pre-season) is that the early season will turn into an extended warm-up. New coaches and new schemes get cemented in the pre-season through repitition, and losing that will make the early games sloppy. The last thing the NFL needs is a dilution of intensity. Each game, win or lose, is a pretty big event. On the other hand, you have basketball and, even worse, baseball, where the players themselves write off most of the season, where losses aren't as hard to take because there are just so many more games.

The lockout season in the NBA was fantastic, because with only 50 games, teams had to flat out play the whole way through. While the play wasn't the best (looking at you, the thing that ate Shawn Kemp), teams had much more pressure to win. Of course, no league is going to say they should reduce the number of games. That doesn't mean they need to expand.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:27 PM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just imagine there is no football. Would our lives be any worse for it?

Yes. And I don't even particularly like football. I watched exactly one game this season and it was the Superbowl. I didn't attend many games as an undergraduate, but football at least gives me some reason to say "Go Bears" at random moments, so it's done something.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 7:07 AM on February 8, 2011


ITT:

Numerous upper-middle class folk brimming with self-importance and armed with a borrowed cliche concept of being picked on by "jocks" read about football players having a payment dispute. They use lots of words and smug indifference to judge people for making too much money for playing 'a silly game' It doesn't matter what injury befalls them, for they made their choice, and didn't have to work hard like they did.

Once pleased with themselves, they will resume working their job wherein they are paid 5-6 figures to sit on a comfy chair in front of a computer and every so often, click a mouse. They never question how much they make, because they are, after all, quite good at clicking things. Clicking things is important, not like throwing a ball around.

Later, they will buy a cup of coffee that costs more than the homeless people they walked past to get it will make all week.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:53 AM on February 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


ITT:

People using stereotypes to make broad statements about their outlook on the impending lockout will themselves be stereotyped, and the stereotyping stereotypers will also endure stereotypifications.

A majority of provided viewpoints will be snarky and dismissive. Now, we'll check in with Ollie for the weather.
posted by Phyltre at 11:03 AM on February 8, 2011


There are football minor leagues out there now. The biggest one (in the US) a few years ago was the Arena Football league -- Kurt Warner is their most famous alumnus. But they ended up going bankrupt, presumably because they were trying to expand to quickly. Their players got paid reasonably well, with the league minimum around 40k, and top players making 150k. But now that that league sold it's assets to a new upstart Arena League, the players are getting paid $1000 a game. They can still find players to sign up for those prices, but it went from being something that could be your job, to something you have to still have a second job while you do to make ends meet.
posted by garlic at 11:02 AM on February 9, 2011


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