“I…declare…BANKRUPTCY!” If you’re a fan of the television show The Office, you know despite his loud claim, Dunder Mifflin manager Michael Scott did not actually declare bankruptcy. It’s a nice thought, but he did not solve his financial problems in the slightest. As a matter of fact, he informed his coworkers of his obvious money trouble. With the cameras rolling, now the whole world would know. How embarrassing, right? Well, not for him. He has little to no shame. Sound like someone you know? Well it is. As a matter of fact, it’s more than one person. It is a large list of managers…and owners, lawyers and players. It’s the NFL of course! They, like their fictional counterpart, have little to no shame. They don’t have monkey problems, excuse me, money problems, like Mr. Scott. They do however have a workplace problem that the whole world is privy to. The CBA, or Collective Bargaining Agreement, just voted upon and agreed to a very public problem that no one wants to talk about. Well, not no one, but no one loud enough to make us fans really care.
The logo remains the same. Don’t believe me? Go find all the sports related tattoos in America. How many are players’ names/faces? How many are team names/logos? Exactly! As fans, we need to show the owners why we aren’t pawns in negotiations!
I’m not going to go through the entire CBA. Heck, if over a hundred players didn’t even vote on it, why should I have to read it all? I am going to point out three big reasons why we as fans should be angry on behalf of the players. Why we should put down our team jerseys, pick up our collective pride, and shout out our windows “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take it anymore!” towards the league office. Before I begin, full disclosure, this is the players fault. Sometimes though, we fight for those we love, even when they make stupid decisions.
First, the concessions. Obviously, in any negotiation, both sides need to give something up. If it was going to be easy, they would have done it next year. There was still a year left on the previous CBA. Of course, negotiations should have started this year. Why did the players rush into it? It’s what they think they got. No more suspensions for marijuana. Yippee! As more and more states legalize it, this was an inevitable policy change. Great, you can’t get suspended. Guess what though? You can still be fined multiple times under the new CBA. Why is that a big deal?
Second thing…money. It makes the world go around. All this new money the players get is monopoly money. Yes, the players go immediately go from 47% revenue share to 48. They are capped out at 48.5 if all things go well. WHY?! Why, with a new tv deal in the horizon, with the league exploding, do you not fight for a 50-50 split?
Thirdly, and most importantly. Leverage. The owners have the players over a barrel that the players filled with poison. A ten year deal with no out clause? Most of these players will not be around to negotiate the next CBA. So, they fought for way better healthcare for retired players, right? They fought for better, way better, things like lowering the accrued seasons mark for vested players, right? Well, no. The meat and potatoes players won big for now. They make up the largest group of players who voted. They were the difference. Expanded rosters are good, unless you’re paying for the roster. The owners knew by dangling small carrots in front of the players they could take possession of the whole farm.
All in all, we as fans should demand more for our time. It is a game. It isn’t neccessary to have pro sports. We aren’t forced to watch them. We do though. We always will. We’ll root for the underdog player, vying for that last roster spot. Working as hard as you think you would for just that chance. All the while the owners know you aren’t going to pay him. You’ll watch their game, on their networks, on their time. You’ll buy their jerseys, with their logo, with your money. The players dug their own graves, but we helped supply just a little bit of dirt.
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Husband, father, worker bee, sports nut and political junkie.