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Lockout: Fans truly left on the outside

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I admit that I’m one of the guilty who think that sportscasters and pundits are too PC with regards to their own sport(s).  I feel that both sportscasters and pundits alike argue in favor of the big wigs or defend the relevance of systems that are obviously broken – take the BCS for instance.  I think, “Are you guys in so deep that you can’t see anything beyond?  Do you have any perspective?”  Rarely is there ever a challenge from them when they sit in the national media spotlight.  Then I remember that there are guys like Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg.

Grab Your Pickets!

Today on the Mike and Mike Show, Greenberg comes out in defense of the fans – the ones who will truly suffer if there is a lockout… even a short lived lockout.  Greenberg says:

As sports fans, we allow ourselves to be treated in a way that we never otherwise would. As a sports fan, technically, you are a consumer. As a sports fan, technically, you are a customer. And yet, you allow yourself to be not only taken for granted, but generally speaking, insulted on a regular basis, treated horribly. You would never, ever shop in a store or eat in a restaurant the way that professional sports treats you. And yet we just keep coming back for more. Just like the pledge in Animal House saying, “Thank you, sir, may I have another.”

You know what, at some point, we can teach them a lesson if we were to actually try. But we don’t have a union. We need to unionize the fans. I’m going to get DeMaurice Smith or someone like that and we’re going to unionize the fans. And we’re going to decertify.

Whether or not Greenberg is genuine about forming a NFLFA is not really important.  Although if anyone is interested, there is a group called The Sports Coalition – a group that claims to act as an advocate for all sports fans.

I find what Greenberg does say about how sports fans allow themselves to be treated like a stranger in some backwater dive bar is very telling about the confidence that both owners and players have in the way they think they can treat their ‘customers.’  Golic’s response to what Greenberg said is for the fans to stop purchasing season tickets as a way to ‘decertify’ themselves.  Also valid.

I honestly felt that after baseball’s last strike in ’94 would send ripples through the professional leagues:  When you dispute and decide that your multi-million dollar needs supersedes the needs of your fan base, then the fans get angry and you will suffer for it.  It took four years and a juiced up home run record setting McGwire to reel the fans back in.  But will the NFL’s overwhelming popularity put blinders on the fans even if there is a lockout?

Mock Draft

If a new CBA isn’t reached by draft day, you can bet with all certainty that the 2011 NFL draft’s outcome will be completely different than if a new CBA were in place.  Lockout = no communication between players and teams including free agents.  Well, they can talk but can’t sign anything on the dotted line.  And that, my friends, will change how this draft class turns out.  Free agency has become irrelevant with an expired CBA.  Those players are now in jeopardy of signing with someone during the off-season.  I would imagine that players who are in good standing with their current team can feel a bit of comfort knowing that terms discussed prior to the CBA expiration would be the terms agreed to after a new CBA (unless those terms violate the new CBA).  Not knowing how FA will pan out, teams will be scrambling to fill those open spots in their roster by drafting them.  Crazy?  I don’t think so.  This could greatly impact the structure of teams.  It could be chaos once a CBA is put into place.  Teams built  or gearing up to be built for success in 2011 could suddenly be near the bottom of their division.  Not fun for a fan who’s team went from the top to the bottom

Stat Neutrality

One other point that shows the true greed of this league and its players lies within Fantasy Leagues.  The NFL and the NFLPA try to charge sites like Yahoo! and CBS Sports for access to their stats.  What already should be public knowledge and free,  both these groups (along with the MLB) have made attempts to charge for these stats claiming that a player and what they do statistically is copyrighted material.  This has been going on since 2006, but the leagues continue to pursue this avenue as another way to bleed more money out of the fans that so dearly love their sport.

What are we, as passionate fans, to do?  We are dumb.  We keep going back time and time again.  No matter what the league does to take our money.  No matter what the players do, legally or illegally, to make us love them or hate them.  We will always keep turning on that TV or putting on that official team jersey or running through the turnstile to get to our nosebleed seat.  Neither side has any incentive to treat us, the fans, decently.

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