I am, like most people, happy to see the NFL owners and players come around and figure things out and make a deal to end the lockout. I didn’t want to spend the next four months watching the World Domino Championships or synchronized swimming. It’s hard to build fantasy lineups for those events. It was good to see everyone hugging it out at the end and saying all the right things and acting like this was truly the work of all sides willing to work together for the better good. They said they did it because they all care about us, the fans.
(Cue the screeching car brakes) Wait, what? I had to go back and listen to the press conference between Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith and everyone else who spoke. “Football is back!” Goodell exclaimed. The sport is back, people are flocking to buy tickets and go watch training camp to see who signed where. It’s everything that the NFL could have asked for. That includes getting the fans back hook, line, and sinker. With everyone looking so happy, the NFL has made it appear as if everything is normal again. It hardly feels that way to me. I must be in the minority, but as a fan, I’m not feeling any better. I don’t feel the same excitement I did before. I’m not as enthusiastic as I was before. I don’t think any fan should be. The rich got richer and the fans got nothing. Eagles fans have special permission to party a little bit after hitting the free agency jackpot, but just a little bit.
The players got their money. The owners got their money. The networks that air the NFL got their games and money back. The golden goose is alive and well. What exactly did the fans get? A sack of deflated footballs. Sure we get to watch the games, go to the games, and spend money at the games. When this deal was put together and the fans put through hell, we were beyond the last thing on their minds. A couple of teams lowered ticket prices and a total of half at least left prices alone. Those two teams, Tampa and San Diego, had a combined 11 TV blackouts last year for failing to sell out their home games. I doubt the drop was out of the goodness of their hearts. They’re still forcing us to pay high prices. Remember, 18 teams raised prices going into last season. Since 2005, the average ticket price is up 30% since 2005 to $76.47 a ticket. Wow, they’re really thinking about us. On the bright side, DirecTV is now including its NFL Sunday Ticket “free”, but that’s only if you pay them for any package not called “basic”. A great deal—for DirecTV.
Fans were interviewed throughout this mess and they all said they were disgusted; disgusted with the players, disgusted with the owners. Fans were angry that millionaires and billionaires couldn’t agree over money, something both sides already have way too much of. The fans weren’t in the debate when the sides were sitting at the table arguing or in the media hurling insults at one another. It was all greed. The players wanted half the money. The owners wanted more than half the money. The players wanted this. The owners wanted that. It’s too bad that disgust hasn’t manifested itself into any action now that the lockout is over. It would be nice to see these people going to watch training camps protesting. It would be nice if season ticket holders renewing their packages argued for discounts. The league has $9 billion to split. The fans should get something out of it.
Teams have been offering things like free parking and free admission to training camps. Are you kidding me?! “We’re talkin’ about practice!.”
That’s not what packs stadiums, sports bars, and gets people all excited about fantasy football and whatever else they do. Practices aren’t what people care about. They care about the games. Where are the deals for those, Mr. Goodell? Where are the lower ticket prices in all markets? Where are the concessions to the fans? You made them with the players to get this deal done. Remember, no matter how much the networks and the sponsors and everyone else pay you, if not for the fans, you would all have nothing. The fans made the league into the behemoth it is. It wasn’t the stars, or any owner or the commissioner. It was the fans. We were the ones that paid the prices you charged for tickets even when you raised them year after year after year. We were the ones buying the hats, the jerseys, and the t-shirts. We were the ones that voted to increase our taxes to help pay for your new stadiums; stadiums you said would make the game experience even better for us, bring additional revenue to the market you play in, and make the team more competitive because the great players would want to come play for you in your state-of-the-art facilities. We, the fans, have given you everything you wanted. In the end, all we have gotten is screwed.
We deserve better than just a “Football is back” cheer. We have bent over backwards to help the league succeed. Anymore and we’d be human Slinkys. I wish more fans would be angry. I wish they would show their anger and not buy tickets, not buy souvenirs, not play fantasy football, not watch games on TV. I know I am asking too much. People are just happy the games are back. Their falls and winters revolve around a game they love too much to quit. People are hurting for jobs just to make ends meet and these already richer than imaginable crybabies are worried about how to split $9 billion among themselves. Why aren’t more people screaming about this? I feel like people should be more upset, yet ticket sales were up something like 22% in the secondary buying markets such as stubhub.com as soon as the lockout ended. They’ve done nothing to help the fan.
If one executive or player came out and said it was always about the money, admits the truth, I can live with that. I wrote in another piece that fans aren’t stupid; they’re savvier than most people make them out to be. We roll our eyes and laugh when Roger Goodell, DeMaurice Smith, or Kevin Mawae stand before a microphone and state that they had to figure these things out to make the game bigger and stronger for the fans. We know better. We know it is all built on greed. I’d like for one of them to come forward and at least be honest about it. We’ve given them so much, we deserve at least that much back.
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