Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Millionaires, Billionaires Decide that Financial Suicide is the Best Option

National Football League owners surprised nobody on Earth on March 12, 2011, by failing to come to an labor agreement with the NFL Player’s Association—after sixteen days of mediated talks and “months of stop-and-start negotiating”—and subsequently locking out the players,  beginning the league’s first work stoppage in almost twenty-five years. This lockout signals that the owners are—or at least hope to appear to be—willing to scuttle the entire 2011 season, lose billions of dollars of revenue, and potentially alienate the hundreds of millions of fans that have made the NFL the financial juggernaut it is today,1 simply to squeeze a paltry couple million more dollars out of their employees and fans.

Those fans—whose almost embarrassingly enthusiastic support has transformed professional football from an early-twentieth-century novelty act into a pervasive $9 billion-per-year industry—now face the sobering prospect of having to pay attention to their jobs on Monday morning, instead of checking their fantasy football scores; having to talk and even listen to their spouses, children, and friends for significant parts of Sundays, instead of just during halftime; and perhaps worst of all, having to survive the weekend with no more than the measly ten to twelve hours’ worth of college football coverage they get on Saturdays.

No one can predict what the future holds for the NFL—although we suspect it will involve offensively rich people casually dismissing quantities of money that would make regular fans faint of heart, while at the same time squabbling endlessly over almost nothing—but needless to say, we think that bringing an almost obscenely lucrative industry to a dead stop is a brilliant move.

Wait, no! Just kidding. Actually, we think this is a complete load of shit, because we are not, in fact, money-hungry idiots. Instead we’re regular everyday, run-of-the-mill idiots with small bank balances, common sense, limited vocabularies, hairy knuckles, and protruding foreheads: you know, football fans.

As actual adults, albeit ignorant ones, we at Bowling in the Dark find it hard to accept that the thirty-one NFL owners2—sixteen of whom are billionaires, which one would think implies some tiny degree of business sense—were unable to find a way to split nine billion dollars per year in a way that kept everybody happy.

And these negotiations weren’t even with other savvy businessmen, but with football players. Athletes, most of them with communications degrees—gentlemen physically gifted and driven to succeed, but so feeble of mind that they have managed to earn mere tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. Practically children, really.3

As longtime football fans, we find it hard to accept that the only way do come to a satisfactory conclusion to these negotiations is to eliminate an entire football season.

More importantly, as longtime Denver Broncos fans, we find it hard to accept that the NFL and the NFLPA couldn’t have found a way to eliminate last season instead of the next one.

Thanks a lot, assholes.

1. Or, at least, was up until March 11, 2011.
2. There are in fact thirty-two teams in the league, but the Green Bay Packers are publicly owned, so for that reason I’m leaving them out of this.
3. If we are found dead, covered with cleat marks, your chief suspect should be a football player with no understanding of irony. We’re sorry that this is not likely to narrow the field down very much.

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