If you don't know me, I'm a huge sports fan. Any sport: you name it, I love it. I wholeheartedly believe I've picked a winning March Madness bracket. I frequent hockey games in Atlanta. One of the first things I do in the morning is turn on SportsCenter on ESPN. I know details and random trivia facts for all my favorite teams: the University of Tennessee Vols (both football and basketball), the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and, most importantly, the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers are my favorite team, and, as a result, professional football is my favorite sport. But right now, it seems that the 2011-2012 NFL season is in serious jeopardy.
The NFL has been talking about this for months, and now it's a serious reality: the NFL is in a full blown lockout, with potential to prevent the 2011 season from even happening. But if you, like me, would rather watch the games than learn the economics behind a multi-billion dollar company and didn't bother to learn what it was about when negotiations first started, this is the place for you. To be honest, I didn't really care what was happening as long as games were being played, and now that there's a potential of them to stop completely, I decided to learn what all was happening.
To start things out, the major and most important problem is that owners of the 32 NFL teams want to pay players less and have them play more games. Currently, the NFL season stands at four preseason games (or games that do not count towards playoffs and season records), sixteen regular season games (games that do count towards playoffs and season records), and four weeks of playoff games, including the Super Bowl. The owners want to take the last two preseason games and make them regular season games, which would mean there would be eighteen regular season games played. Players of those 32 teams want the same amount of money paid for the same amount of games played.
Since the owners and the NFLPA (the National Football League Players Association) couldn't come up with a way to divide up 9 billion dollars by March 11, the NFL imposed a lockout. Now a few things happen with the lockout. For one, players are no longer welcome at team facilities. No offseason training camps would be held, and no team workouts would be held either. If a player wants to practice, they have to do it on their own time, and pay to use a facility. The NFL Draft would still happen, but free agents (or players whose contract with a team has expired, and therefore allowed to sign with another team) cannot sign with new teams. The biggest consequence would be that there would be no games played.
Mind you, this lockout is the result of months and months of negotiations and meetings. In fact, there's so much general information regarding the lockout, that even going knee deep in the problem is unrealistic in a Times article. If you are interested in learning more about the lockout or the negotiations that did happen earlier this month as well as for the last few months, I've put some links at the bottom of this article.
Now as someone who hasn't been able to turn on the NFL Network or play Madden since the Steelers lost the Super Bowl (although I did simulate the game a few days ago . . . the Steelers won 49-6, haha), what am I supposed to do should there not be an NFL season next year? I sincerely doubt that I could actually listen to Packers fans brag about "bring the Lombardi back to Lambeau" or how the Steelers didn't even deserve to be in Dallas or whatever else they can come up with.
In the mean time, I suppose I'll catch up on my March Madness bracket, and watch hockey and baseball, but come September and if there is no season, what will I do?
I really, truly hope there is a season. Otherwise it'll feel like the Steelers lost two years in a row. And I don't think I would like to experience that pain again, thank you very much.
For more information: