here are several new developments on the labor/management front regarding the NFL lockout and none of them are encouraging.
The lockout is now ten weeks old and Commissioner Roger Goodell has noticed that fans are beginning to turn away from the NFL in a show of frustration over the stalled labor talks. Goodell has noted that tv ratings for the NFL draft were down, visits to NFL.com are down, and ticket sales are down as fans start to consider life without pro football this Fall.
Hearings are scheduled for June 3rd in 8th U.S. District Court to hear arguments concerning the legality of the lockout, and that court decision probably won’t happen for several weeks after the court appearance. Meanwhile, mediation sessions between owners and players are scheduled to start up again June 7th, but realistically there is very little reason to be optimistic about those sessions.
In another development, the NFL Coaches Association recently filed a brief in support of the players, saying that their jobs and their security are in danger if this lockout should continue. Especially vulnerable are the eight new NFL coaches who are missing valuable off-season minicamps that are so important in establishing a solid relationship between coaching staffs and players.
The minicamps are also crucial for new draft picks, giving them the chance to learn the team system as quickly as possible before the training camps begin in August.
All of this leads to several possibilities. One, the NFL season will not occur this season in which case absolutely nobody will benefit. Two, there will be an agreement but it will come so late in the summer that the quality of play this season will be greatly affected. And lastly, and the scenario no one thinks will happen, the lockout will end by early June and the season will go on as planned and not be adversely affected.
Another aspect of this lockout that is rarely mentioned is the economic effect it will have on cities where games are played, or in this case where games won’t be played. The local restaurants, taverns, apparel stores, etc., all are looking at a huge loss in revenue if this season is forfeited, and the ripple effect on employees will further hurt economies that are just showing signs of coming out of the long recession.
One thing seems to be a certainty: the longer this lockout continues the more bitter the relationship between owners and players will become, and there is no way that can be good for professional football.
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