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The state of sports.

Postby SeaWolf » Thu May 26, 2005 1:48 pm

I didn't know where to post this since this applies to all four major sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL)

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Don't know if you need a unser name and/or passowrd to access so I pasted the whole article. Enjoy.

Can you fathom a world without professional team sports? Or a time when pro sports are rendered meaningless?

Impossible, right? Not in this day and age, right?

Not when each of the four majors is touting at least 30 franchises.

Not when leagues are inking multi-million dollar deals for television rights.

Not when expansion, commercialization, and globalization are still the name of the game.

Right? Well, no actually.

The four major American sports leagues are each at a crossroads. They arrive at this junction independently and collectively, and at a defining moment for professional sports in this country.

The NHL, NBA, NFL, and Major League Baseball are either embroiled in a heated labor dispute or see one coming like a long-forecasted storm peeking over the horizon. Yet, they are failing to seek shelter.

It might be too much of a stretch of the imagination to let the mind foresee a nation devoid of pro team sports. But, at the very least, it'll be years before we see all four leagues concurrently living a harmonious life with their players.

Consider: the NHL cancelled the 2004-05 season because of labor troubles, the NBA's collective bargaining agreement expires June 30, baseball's is up at the end of the '06 season, and football's is dead after '07.

And when the leaders of each side hit the pulpit looking to sway public opinion, remember one thing--it's all about the money.

This isn't earth-shattering news. But over the next few years, the commissioners, owners, union leaders, and player representatives will try to get you on their side. They'll speak in jargon about economic restructuring. They'll toss out contrived business models. They'll even hope to arouse your nostalgia with talk about the integrity of the game and the way things used to be.

In light of it all, remember--in one way or another, it's all about the money.

Only recently did I spawn this dark outlook, an offspring of contentious posturing by some of the most powerful men in sports.

First, of course, was the very public fight between the NHL and its players that caused the league to cancel the season in an unparalleled, if not moronic, feat of lunacy. The two sides, which are deeply divided over a salary cap, met for 22 hours over two days last week and hardly anything was accomplished.

"While we made progress in some areas, there remain many issues to be addressed," NHL Players Association senior director Ted Saskin said in a statement. "It is clear that much work remains to be done."

I figured the NBA was enjoying the NHL's struggles, despite the close relationship between NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the NBA's David Stern. The league, after all, set a record for average and total attendance this season.

But Stern and union chief Billy Hunter are prepared to squander the opportunity to draw more fans at hockey's expense. Refusing to see the NHL as an example of fans' fleeting loyalties, they too can't agree on a new bargaining agreement.

Stern claimed that he and the owners believed they were close to an agreement with the players on trimming the maximum length of contracts, reducing annual raises inherent in long-term deals, and establishing a minimum age requirement.

However, when the union retracted some of its earlier concessions, Stern blamed the backtracking on agents running the negotiations from the sidelines.

Hunter took such exception that he charged the league with racism, telling ESPN.com that he found the accusations "repugnant and offensive ... the inference is that me, as a black man, cannot operate an institution such as the union without having some white man oversee and (legitimize) whatever it is I'm supposed to be doing."

This from the sport that was supposed to have the easiest time hammering out a new deal because it was basically a rehash of the current one. A lockout is now a growing possibility.

Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, NFL Players Association executive director Gene Upshaw sounded off about the state of football's labor structure.

On the eve of the NFL's spring meetings this week, Upshaw told USA Today, "Hockey was first, then basketball. We could be next. It's not beyond belief that we won't get a deal done." He also explained to The Washington Post that it was time for owners to "wake up to the fact that we have a problem and we need to get it fixed."

Although Upshaw continues to compare the NFL to hockey and basketball, the league's labor woes are more along the lines of baseball's troubles. Like baseball, the NFL must unite its owners before taking on the players.

Despite football's perceived perfect structure, small-market owners are becoming increasingly resentful of their large-market counterparts. While the league already promotes a revenue-sharing model, that blueprint does not include locally generated income, such as money from luxury suites, stadium-naming rights deals, or concession sales.

An increase in revenue sharing is important to owners because the current collective bargaining agreement does not include a salary cap for the '07 season--the final year of the deal. So, just like in baseball, the richer teams can spend as much money as they want on star players.

And because baseball is still dominated by the larger market franchises--in spite of the '02 CBA--MLB officials will likely try, yet again, to institute a salary cap as its deal expires after next season. It'll also try to implement a stringent drug-testing policy. The union is expected to push back on both issues.

So where does that leave the rest of us?

While some of us actually stress over how these multimillionaires are going to divvy up billions of dollars, the casual fans do not. Owners and players shouldn't count on the die-hards to show up when they're finished haggling either.

There are so many choices that many fans will simply move on, regardless of their love for a particular game. They'll lift NASCAR's booming market exponentially. They'll nominate soccer's Freddy Adu as the biggest star in the land. They'll follow college sports like never before. They'll watch more golf, more tennis. They play more golf, more tennis.

Fans are becoming more and more apathetic to the constant squabbling over cold, hard cash. Many can barely afford to attend one or two games a season. Others are too angry and frustrated because the executives are destroying the sports they love.

I don't blame them.

They've all been burned before--by the '87 NFL strike, the '94 baseball strike, '98 NBA lockout, and three hockey work stoppages since '92. The leagues survived those and many others. Working in concert with the ongoing steroids saga, it's enough to drive fans away.

One dispute is tough enough to stomach. Four in less than three years is just unbearable. Owners and players must realize their joint hardheadedness can lead to a country where the so-called major sports leagues resemble struggling start-ups.

Think it can't happen?

Just 11 years ago, the NHL was reaching new heights. The New York Rangers won the Stanley Cup in a thrilling seven-game series over Vancouver. The league signed a national TV deal, the first of its kind in the U.S. Like their Canadian brethren, Americans were wild about hockey.

Now, NHL arenas are dark and the Stanley Cup won't be awarded for the first time in 86 years. Next season is also in jeopardy. Yet, some of you may just now be saying, "There was no hockey this season?"

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Postby airraid81 » Thu May 26, 2005 2:17 pm

The NHL sucks, and I don't know of anyone who cares that they aren't playing. Hell, I bet ESPN could get higher rating broadcasting empyt hockey stadiums than real games.

The NFL will probably not ever have a long strike or anything, because it is so popular. There is already a salary cap, so it is a pretty balanced playing field. Also, there are way too many fans. If that ever happened, Arena Football would be in heaven.
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Postby kashikis » Thu May 26, 2005 2:24 pm

Good article, nice post Seawolf ;-D

I agree if this crap keeps up then I'd be about to bail too. Every player used to play the game because they love it at one point in their lives. Whether it be when they were 6 or 65, and they need to learn to get back to that feeling and know what is best fot not only them but the fans.
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Postby goleafsgo96 » Thu May 26, 2005 2:31 pm

airraid81 wrote:The NHL sucks, and I don't know of anyone who cares that they aren't playing. Hell, I bet ESPN could get higher rating broadcasting empyt hockey stadiums than real games.

The NFL will probably not ever have a long strike or anything, because it is so popular. There is already a salary cap, so it is a pretty balanced playing field. Also, there are way too many fans. If that ever happened, Arena Football would be in heaven.


:-?

I wont even bother arguing the first paragraph, since you are from Ohio and probably have no idea how popular the NHL is in other places. Not trying to be a jerk, but its true. I dont think Columbus is that popular of a team yet.

Strikes have little to nothing to do with popularity of the sport and how many fans there are, if the players and owners cant agree on something, its gonna happen, whether theres 1 fan or 1 billion. Thats the way the head guys are these days, every sport is all about making money. I agree with the fact that there wont be any NFL strike in the near future.
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Postby Kensat30 » Thu May 26, 2005 3:02 pm

They should replace the NHL with the World Poker Tour as the 4th major US Sport. I would rather watch "Can you Bowl?" than a regular season NHL game.

Trade the NHL to Canada for free health care for Americans.
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Postby airraid81 » Thu May 26, 2005 3:55 pm

Kensat30 wrote:They should replace the NHL with the World Poker Tour as the 4th major US Sport. I would rather watch "Can you Bowl?" than a regular season NHL game.

Trade the NHL to Canada for free health care for Americans.


Poker sucks. It's fun to play, but who wants to watch people play it? Hockey is more exciting.
Also, we shouldn't have free health care, because that will just raise taxes on everyone and will decrease the overall effectiveness of healthcare and make long waiting lists.
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Postby Plindsey88 » Thu May 26, 2005 4:02 pm

airraid81 wrote:The NHL sucks, and I don't know of anyone who cares that they aren't playing. Hell, I bet ESPN could get higher rating broadcasting empyt hockey stadiums than real games.

The NFL will probably not ever have a long strike or anything, because it is so popular. There is already a salary cap, so it is a pretty balanced playing field. Also, there are way too many fans. If that ever happened, Arena Football would be in heaven.




The reason the NFL will never experience the same type of struggles that the NHL and MLB experience is simple:

Football rocks....

Hockey and Baseball suck....



Each and everyone of you knows that if there was an NFL strike, we'd all be here everyday posting about which scrub filler player is the biggest stud, and we'd be watching the games on Sunday, as well.... I know I watched all the games during the last strike (when was that, BTW - '86-'87?), and if it came down to it, I'd do it again.... Football just kicks too much ass not to watch....
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Postby hastur » Thu May 26, 2005 9:07 pm

great article!

Somewhere in the last year I remember reading the NHL was the 7th most watched sport in America. SEVENTH!!! Behind Arena League football. wow. just wow. owners and players better get on the ball about salary demands after knowing that. Who's the more guilty, the players who demand the outragiously non-porportional salaries or the owners who give in and dole out the money?

PLindsey, you are so right. We'll be outright furious at the NFL and each and every one of us will swear off football for the rest of our lives.....for about 2 weeks. Then we will start with the "I heard he used to play soccor in China" threads....
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Postby Tiki » Thu May 26, 2005 9:16 pm

goleafsgo96 wrote:Strikes have little to nothing to do with popularity of the sport and how many fans there are, if the players and owners cant agree on something, its gonna happen, whether theres 1 fan or 1 billion.
The more fans the more money, the more money, the more happy players and owners ;-D
Keep it lit.
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Postby Goatwhacker » Thu May 26, 2005 9:36 pm

goleafsgo96 wrote:
Strikes have little to nothing to do with popularity of the sport and how many fans there are


Speaking only for myself, I've been through several baseball strikes and combined with the steroid problem and the overall slow pace of the game I've pretty much had it with MLB. When I was a kid and even in college I loved baseball but MLB has dug it's own grave as far as I'm concerned.
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