Thursday, July 21, 2011

TWIOT: Even in Labor Strife, the NFL Does It Right

Reports are coming out that the NFL owners have ratified the new collective bargaining agreement. The players just need to recertify their union and ratify the CBA and the lockout is over. This could happen as early as tonight. I don't know about you, but I'm fucking thrilled. The prospect of missed football games on Sundays this fall scared the ever-loving shit out of me as a sports fan. There are a scant few things in life outside of wrestling and family that engross me the way the NFL does. I can watch any two teams play, even if it's a putrid NFC West matchup. I participate in fantasy football. If I gamble on sports (NOT WITH MONEY WINK WINK NUDGE NUDGE GUISE), it's primarily on the NFL.

So why is it that I and millions of other red-blooded Americans of both genders (mostly males probably though) love the NFL so much? It's because they do mostly everything right. They market their product correctly. They've fine-tuned the game to the point where it's easy for people to watch for the most part, although the tide for that may be turning with the overcompensation in the name of player safety. Regardless, it's still a league that for the most part does everything right.

That includes having labor strife. As I knock on wood, rub my rabbit's foot and do everything else imaginable to avoid jinxing this progress, with all the luck in the world, this lockout is going to end with no missed regular season games. If you think about how disastrous other labor struggles have been for other leagues, having a work stoppage that only really stops the interesting-for-a-second free agency process is a God-damned blessing. Baseball had the entire stretch run and postseason in 1994 cancelled. The NBA's 1998-99 season ended up only being a 1999 season because of time missed. Hell, the NHL missed an entire fucking season with their last work stoppage. The interruptions in play damaged all three leagues; not irreparably, but the lockouts and strikes were all instrumental in the NFL's rise to prominence as the new American pastime as well as the NFL's smart marketing.

That's why, again KNOCKING ON WOOD, if this deal is accepted without any lost regular season time, it proves that the NFL just gets it. They had their labor strife and their squabbles. The owners got to let their greedy-as-fuck flags fly a little bit without giving a fuck (mainly because toadies like Peter King would keep defending them like they were Little Sisters of the Poor). The players got to rage against the machine while getting a respite from the "voluntary" minicamps as well as getting a truncated training camp. Now, if this deal gets signed sooner rather than later? The owners and players got it out of their systems. Now it's time to play.

A quarter of the way through the season? This will all be forgotten. I guarantee it. We'll all be enjoying football, and no one will remember Jerry Richardson eating babies while claiming that the players were bankrupting him, or Adrian Peterson comparing his plight to those who sailed over as captives on the Amistad.

And that's the reason why the NFL is, and probably will be for the forseeable future, the king of sport in the United States. As the NBA descends into a destructive lockout that could break it due to the bleak predictions of how long it's going to last, the NFL shows everyone how it's done.

If you want to read more about the lockout and its impact, be it within the sport itself or in an unusually salient way concerning its socio-economic place, then read these two pieces by Drew Magary at Deadspin and Mike Tunison at Kissing Suzy Kolber.

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