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article imageOp-Ed: NFL lockout over but hard questions remain

By Luke Vermeer     Jul 26, 2011 in Sports
The NFL lockout has officially ended but there are major questions that need to be answered. Namely, why did the lockout even happen in the first place.
In the last 17 years there have been five major work stoppages in the world of sports. In 1994 Major League Baseball lost the last two months of the season and the entire postseason due to a players strike. Also in 1994 the NHL missed the first three months of the season due to a lockout. In 2004 it was the NHL again dealing with a lockout, this time losing the entire 2004-2005 season. Right now the NBA is suffering through a lockout that could see them lose the next season. The fifth lockout is, of course, the just ended NFL lockout.
Of the five work stoppages four of them have similarities. In '94 the MLBPA felt that owners were withholding revenues from the players and there was general mistrust between the two sides. That same year the NHL saw an increase in salaries and a revenue stream that wasn't increasing at the same rate which was threatening small market teams. In the end it was large market teams like the Maple Leafs, Rangers and Flyers who forced the end of the lockout fearing the revenue losses a lockout would bring. In 2004 the same issues plagued the NHL and this time the teams never broke ranks forcing a lockout that lasted a full year and ended in a salary cap. This year it is similar issues that are threatening the NBA. Player salaries are rising and the soft cap that exists is doing nothing to curtail the large amounts of spending.
What all those lockouts had or have is an issue involving money. A real issue, one that could prove devastating to the league or the players if left unchecked. And that is something that the NFL lockout was missing.
The NFL lockout was about money, but it was about one side wanting a larger slice of the largest pie in North American sports. Since 2002 the percentage of revenue received by the players has fluctuated between 50 and 52 percent. That means that the owners received between 48 and 50 percent. Now 2 percent of the NFL's revenue is a large sum of money but in the grand scheme of things the amount of money received by both sides works out to about equal.
That means that the fight was because one side wanted more than half. It certainly wasn't the players, they said they would happily extend the previous CBA because they felt it was fair enough. It was the owners who wanted a larger slice.
That is the hardest question of all. Why would the owners of the most successful league in North America force a lockout over adding slightly more to an already giant sum of cash. To fans it doesn't make sense. Most people just love football and could care less about the economics of the game. To them they saw a group of people arguing over money and willing to cancel at least part of a season of their very favorite game. It's those fans who were most overlooked in this process. If the NFL had continued to play this season under the previous CBA they would have still made boatloads of cash. In fact there were reports that even without a season the owners would still have made millions off of already signed TV deals. The only thing the fans can see is 32 money grubbing owners who were willing to cancel an entire season just to add a couple more millions to their bank accounts in the next few seasons.
Another of the tough questions, and possibly the most disturbing, is why was a main point of contention the health of both current and former players. Obviously both sides have their points that they need to argue but one would think that rational human beings can agree that long-term health, and in some cases the very life, of any athlete or any person should be something that can be agreed upon. The fact that a lawsuit was launched near the end of the lockout that alleged the NFL knew about the harmful effect of concussions as early as the 1920's but didn't inform anyone until June of 2010 is something that should be incredibly unsettling to people. Now it is a lawsuit so the allegation that they knew in the 1920's may not be entirely truthful but the NFL did release reports in 1994 and 2004 that ignored the harmful effects of concussions.
The lockout is over and that means football is back, which is great for fans, but people need to take a tough look at why this lockout happened in the first place and some of the issues that came to light because of it.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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