Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Last Football Game?

It is a good thing the Super Bowl was a pretty good game, as it may the last for a long time.  There is an impending lockout, as owners are miffed that they gave up too much last time.  They apparently need more $$ since the public is less likely to build them a new set of stadiums in an era of deficits.  Sally Jenkins does a nice job of attacking the owners for their greed--their building of expensive palaces that are quite effective at separating people from their cash.

Bill Simmons, in his latest podcast, gives himself a bit more credit than he deserves, as he thinks he is the only one who is appalled that the commission of the League is taking a holier than thou approach on the concussion issue while that the same time supporting an 18 game season.  Simmons is right, just not alone, in noticing the hypocrisy of this stance. 

The owners seem to be out of touch with the current economy.  While they have heaps of power relative to the players and can afford a lockout, they will lose money that they would otherwise make if the games are not played.  Will they damage the brand the way baseball did?  I doubt it, as football has always been a far more cynical exercise.  Baseball has idealism--the glory day of the game, the pureness of the numbers (alleged, mythed), and so on.  Football fans will not flee the stadia (except if they are priced out) or turn off the games if there is a lockout.  But if the game does degrade, where third string (or in the case of the New Orleans Saints, fifth string) players are deciding the fates of many teams at the end of an 18 week season, if the games become unwatchable as the quality of play declines, then they might be in trouble.

And the funny thing is: this is not hockey or basketball.  NFL teams are not losing money.  This is all about maximizing relative to the players.  If they were just focused on absolute gains, the likely losses from the year of lockout would deter the lockout. 

There is no doubt on whose side I am: the players.  While I am not a big fan of many of them with off-the-field entitlement leading to all kinds of bad behavior, we should be under no illusion the damage the game causes to these guys.  Most only last a few years, earning some big bucks and then paying with it for a shortened lifetime of pain.  The owners only have to worry about inheritance taxes, as the money machine is far from broken. 

Perhaps football has not only replaced baseball as the national pastime but as symbol of the state of the country: the few exploiting the many.  I wonder who is going to turn me into a Marxist first: Jerry Jones or the GOP?  The good news is that these pressures offset and are offset by the Quebec effect--its mismanaged fantasy of what a social welfare state should look like makes me feel like a Republica: anti-tax and anti-union.

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