Anyone want to bet that the NFL lockout/labor dispute comes to an end in the next couple of weeks?
"Why?" you might ask, while accusing me of willful optimism.
Because, we are coming to the point where training camps open, in early July, and as greedy as the owners are--with the players not that far behind--there is simply too much money at stake in this whole stack of riches we know as the NFL, that I simply don't believe either the owners or players are stupid enough to risk, let alone waste that.
How much money?
How about $400 million a week in gate receipts? That breaks down $161 million per city over the season, and $4.9 billion of the total of $11 billion football generates each year.
Those figures are according to the good folks at NFLlockout.com.
But, to coin the phrase of the Reagan Administration, this trickles down a lot further, the site also notes that lack of play impacts "individual cities, small businesses, stadium workers, staff, local hotels, restaurants, seasonal jobs, taxpayers and more—in short, anyone associated with the game. In addition, many industries depend on the NFL season such as sports betting, sports bars, food industries, video games and fantasy football. These are some of the businesses that will be the hardest hit if the lockout interrupts the 2011 season."
And, if you are wondering how, as taxpayers individuals like us might also have a play or say, note that 3,000 jobs could be lost in each NFL city if the lockout continues? How about that 28 of the 31 NFL stadiums were built thanks to public funding, and 11 of them were 100 percent publicly funded?
Of, to put at an even more visceral level, Buffalo Wild Wings, the chain that has a million TV screens in each of their restaurants allowing one to watch any game live--plus NASCAR--on Sundays has started a petition to appeal to the participants and understand that impact on their business. How you might wonder?
Well, last Super Bowl Sunday we consumed 1.25 billion wings, worth around $250 million, and so far Buffalo Wild Wings has 17,000 people who signed their initiative.
That is a lot of wings and a lot of money.
But, I think if the talking heads of the NFL and Players Union--meaning NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell--are not paying attention, there is a lot of concern in the country about unemployment and debt ceilings and revenues.
Now, I understand that not raising the debt ceiling is not something to play chicken with, and not raising it would be catastrophic. As in to start, it means the government would welsh on all those Social Security checks, and think about how angry that would make a lot of people, and that is just a one aspect of the problem.
Well, I do understand that, but I don't think most Americans do. Nor do they want to. I think most people simply want their politicians to take care of things for them so that individuals can actually handle things like families and those recently elusive jobs.
But, how those rich mothers who own the NFL teams, or play on them, cannot figure out how to divide the spoils of $11 billion is something they can understand.
And, if Joe Citizen cannot understand that their tax revenues do pay for roads and fireman and police making sure our food does not have ecoli and hospital care and a lot of things.
But, those same folks know they pay the salaries of the NFL players, and help make the owners even richer.
They know when the watch a game, some of the money they pay for cable goes to the NFL. They know their dollars go to the league when they buy a ticket to see the Niners, and they know a chunk of it goes to the league and players when they buy a Troy Polamalu jersey, and when they tuck their kids in under a Packers comforter.
Remember back in 1994 when baseball screwed itself, and more its fans, and it took Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire and several years for fans to begin returning?
I don't think the NFL wants to go there, for as much as people love their football in this country, if they get used to some time without it, well, they might just be angry enough to not want to make up for a while. Because, if people are angry about an economy that failed them, they will be really mad that the game they loved similarly betrayed them.