In what amounts to the least surprising news of the year (other than the fact that Rupert Murdoch is a bad guy), the NFL and the players’ association will come to terms on a collective bargaining agreement this week and end the lockout. Our long national nap is finally over.
Now we’ll have to watch all the back-slapping and glad-handing as everyone congratulates themselves on ensuring that our wondrous national pastime can continue generating revenue without delay.
Give me a fucking break.
The NFL lockout was the 2011 version of the Derek Jeter contract negotiations: an inevitable outcome cloaked in the pretense of uncertainty.
Once again, the sports media has created a story where there is none at the behest of corporate overlords. Since months before the lockout even began, reporters (here’s looking at you, King) have gleefully served as mouthpieces for the owners or players — usually the owners — in return for receiving a few precious nuggets of “scoop.”
“Sources say that owners will take a hard line and are willing to forfeit the entire 2011 season…”
“An insider with knowledge of the owners’ thinking says Goodell absolutely won’t budge on the revenue split demands…”
These sources are advocates for either side in the dispute who advance their party line through Monday Morning Quarterback or espn.com. And the media members are complicit because it gives them something to write about in the off-season, and because if they’re good little poodles, their sources might one day give them an actual news story.
No with even a remote understanding of the way the world works thought that Derek Jeter would be anything but the starting shortstop for the 2011 New York Yankees, and no one with that same remote understanding ever thought the NFL wouldn’t start on time. It’s a successful league, and there’s too much money at stake if actual games get cancelled. A pre-season game or two? Unlikely, but maybe. Not real games though. The NFL hasn’t lost games due to a work stoppage since 1987, and the league is in significantly better shape now than it was then.
If anything, the lockout got the NFL more ink and airtime than a normal off-season. It’s a fringe benefit for Roger Goodell: cry poverty to the press to further the owners’ case, and make splashy headlines. Any goodwill that was lost among the fan base will return as soon as the first free agent signs or fantasy draft occurs.
The lockout was full of sound and fury, and court dates, and wasted time and money, but it signified nothing. And its lessons are ones that shouldn’t be new to us: sports owners are greedy pigs, the media is easily manipulated by rich people, and most fans are absolute suckers.