The NFL, both players and owners, are playing a very dangerous game right now as they are threatening to lose the very source of all their income and wealth, the fans. Through all of the problems that the NFL has had recently there seems to only be one group which truly always loses, again the fans. Fans of the NFL come from all walks of life and all different countries around the world. A majority of fans are die hard supports who love their team and follow their teams year round. It is the fans who buy the tickets, the merchandise, and devote their time and money to their beloved franchises. It is surprising then that the NFL is willing to cast aside so quickly the one group that supports their sport so much, from the looming lock out to the mistakes in Dallas the NFL seems to be treating fans poorly.
With news coming in Thursday that labor talks between the NFL owners and players once again being halted it seems that the chances of a lock out are more and more likely. There are many issues that both the players and owners cannot seem to agree on but the only thing that matters in the long run is whether they come to an agreement in time for the 2011 season. To the owners and (most) players a lock out would not be a sizable financial hit. The owners consist of mostly people who have other major businesses to support their rich lifestyle and a lock out would not destroy their way of life. The same can be said of most players, as players like Tom Brady, Ray Lewis or even David Garrard would hardly have a hard time making ends meet with their multi-million dollar incomes (that is if they haven't spent all of it). The only players who would really take a hit would be practice squad players or minimum salary players who might need to pick up work somewheres else to make ends meet. Even these players though have made more then the average fan and hardly would be homeless without the NFL. The only real loser if a lock out occurs is the fans and local businesses. It is the fans who have devoted time and money to watch their team play, buy merchandise, and support their teams. While the owners and players debate who gets what percentage of the multi-billion dollar revenue the fans will lose out on watching a season of football possibly. Now most think so what, fans can live without a few NFL games or a whole season...wrong. Yes most fans would be devastated that they can not watch their teams play but simply not being able to watch games would not be the end of the world for fans, instead the worst impact would be the people who depend on fans. The worst impact would be on fans and local business owners. Ever since I turned 21 I have been going to watch the Jaguars play at the same bar every week (as I am out of state). When I walk in there are always 30 to 40 people there watching games, drinking, eating and just hanging out. Now if there are no games being played, why would any of those people go to the bar on a Sunday afternoon? The real victims of a lock out would be fans and business owners who run bars, apparel stores, restaurants and services around stadiums. Without Sunday football businesses would lose countless amounts of money. Fans provide revenue for more businesses then just the NFL and this is being forgotten in these labor talks. If the NFL misses 4 games and then they come to agreement, the NFL and players will have figured out their money sharing issues but who will repay the businesses for lost profit, no one. While the owners and players have a stand off over money and other issues, it is the fans and local businesses who will suffer.
Even if the NFL avoids a lock out they already have a massive PR nightmare to fix with fans. The idea of a lock out has only angered fans and frightened business owners for the reasons I mentioned above. Before last weekend, this was the only issue that the NFL had to fix but now after the SuperBowl seat issues the NFL is starting a slippery slope when it comes to fans. Lets face it, the NFL and Jerry Jones blew it big time when it came to hosting the Superbowl. I could just start listing the insane amount of things that went wrong starting with 400 people left without seats and 800 more having to relocate to other seats. The NFL tried to do damage control right of the bat by telling everyone that the 800 fans who were moved were getting equal or better seats, free food and merchandise. This apparently was a partial lie, as now many of the fans are coming and explaining that they missed a good portion of the game due to this problem and when they did get to their new seats they were worse then their original. Many of these fans never received their free food or anything (read this: http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news;_ylt=ApIQMmDwk6nI1yUpgGuL7hdDubYF?slug=pfw-20110209_one_displaced_fans_super_bowl_nightmare) Then the 400 fans left without seats were offered pretty nice packages to another SuperBowl. The problem with this issue being many fans only came to the game to see the Packers or Steelers and even though they can choose to see any Super Bowl with their tickets what are the chances that either team makes it back any time soon. The NFL and Jerry Jones blew it. They showed that they were more concerned with breaking the record for most attendance, making the most money, and showing off to the media rather then to make the experience enjoyable to the fans.
Overall the last few months IMO have got to have been a PR nightmare for the NFL. They have done doing to ease the tension and anger from the NFL fans who are worried about not having a 2011 season. Instead they have only fueled the fire with more problems coming to agreement and the SuperBowl seating problems. The NFL probably realizes that no matter how much goes wrong there will always be fans waiting and ready to attend games and buy products. There image is just taking a hit because to the average fan it seems the NFL cares about everyone but them. I apologize for ranting but all the recent events have left a bad taste in my mouth. Feel free to correct me or voice your opinion. I'm just curious if everyone else seems to be as put off by how much the NFL only cares about themselves.