Friday, February 11, 2011

NFL Fans Being Used as a Pawn in Players Union Scheme

Okay fans, the NFL Players Union wants to let us know that we haven't done enough. Fans coming to games -- some local and some from halfway across the earth -- simply isn't showing enough support. Dropping anywhere from hundreds, to thousands of dollars, to even hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in some cases (albeit rare), simply is not enough! I for one agree with them. We haven't done enough. We need to do more. And it may require something as drastic as turning our backs on the monster we have helped to create.

Originally this petition sounded like a pretty good idea and that it would give fans an opportunity to have something of a voice while proving to NFL team owners that they really do care and want to...wait, what? The players' union believes that the owners need to know that we, as fans, really do care and want to see our teams and favorite players continue playing a game uninterrupted by a revenue sharing dispute? Think about that for a moment. The players union truly believes that the majority of owners are so daft that we the fans need to sign a petition to sway them to agreeing to the union's terms...

Anyone to date who has signed this petition, I pose this question to you: How does it feel to be used as a bargaining chip? If an agreement is made where the players are given more of the revenue and the owners in turn have to relinquish more of their shares, don't be surprised when ticket prices are once again hiked up, only substantially in order to make up for revenues lost to players. You will partly have yourselves to thank by playing an active but passive role in signing this petition.

Now I'm not saying it's any fan's fault who has signed the petition to date. In my opinion, fans haven't been properly educated as to what they are signing. Which stands to reason, because it's not a two-sided petition where we are able to see both sides present their respective argument against one-another. All we know at this point is the propaganda being shoved in our faces by the NFL Players' Union which, to sumamrize, tells us how the owners are bad people, how greedy the owners are, and how the players are suffering because of it...oh yeah, and how we, the fans, will also suffer as a result of not seeing any football until a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is struck up.

Unfortunately the fan is the poor bastard in all this mess. We are the ones who are kept virtually in the dark, we are the ones who pay dearly for items such as personal seat licenses (a separate and very expensive fee for the right to purchase, for an additional expensive fee, season tickets), single game tickets (if any can be acquired), and any additionally expensive paraphernalia with the team's logo adorned to it.

About a month ago, I read a plea from a current NFL athlete who I am friends with via a certain social network. Perhaps "plea" is an overstatement, but as much as we've been badgered about signing this petition, even the slightest whispering mention of it sounds like a plea. I digress. He requested that all of those who follow him or are friends with him to please go to their website and sign and submit their names to this petition.

"Great," I said to myself. "Finally a chance to respectfully express my thoughts and feelings on this petition." Now if he had been a union official, I would have probably erred less on the side of respectful. But I don't really fault the players in this petition fiasco, either. They're mainly doing what they feel is right because the union told them (along the lines of insinuating) "this is right."

My words to the athlete were as follows...

"I pray every night that you guys, the union, and the owners come to an agreement before the deadline arrives. I know you guys want to play, and I want to see everything continue as it has prior to this fiasco. However, fans are not a bargaining chip to be used by the players union. We are being hurt enough as it is. We get nothing out of it if you guys resume work before the deadline, aside from a hike in ticket prices and consequently we lose nothing if you don't -- because of the money we'll save -- aside from some football games. I feel it's insulting to fans the players union requests us to sign a petition because we want to see football."

Now I think the players know the fans want to see a continuance of football, without a stoppage. I know the union knows the fans want to see football continue without a stoppage. And good Lord Almighty, I hope the owners know the fans want to see football without a stoppage. So why in the hell are we being asked to sign a petition? If any one of those three entities -- owners, players, or union -- is so daft to the fact that they question whether or not we want to see a game...if money has become that much of an obstacle, then I don't want to see any NFL until the realization that this game revolves around the fans, fans' enjoyment, and fans satisfaction of the product that they pay for.

I don't care what any expert, owner, player, agent, union-rep, or the commissioner himself tells me, this is a fan-driven league, just like any other venue of entertainment. Entertainment! Any professional singer or actress will get up on stage and tell his or her audience, "Without you guys this wouldn't be possible for me." For some reason however, the NFL as a whole fails to see this, and will even blatantly tell fans, you're not the reason why we're successful. You're not the the resource of how players get paid. Without fans...without fans purchasing PSLs, single game tickets, merchandise, etc, there is no NFL. If every fan were to get so fed up with the bickering between millionaire players and millionaire and billionaire owners complaining that they don't bring in or get paid enough, the NFL could not sustain itself for a long period of time on its own.

As Robert Gilbert wrote in his earlier post...

"It is the fan who continues to suffer throughout this debacle, and the NFL's owners and players need to stop looking down at the pot of gold and figuring out how to divide it, and rather look towards the future: how do you continue the pots of gold? Typically speaking, corporations do not succeed or continue success by alienating their customer base and making them turn to other producers of comparable goods."

So my message to owners, and to the players union and the players who they represent should be quite loud and clear. You are about to kill the proverbial goose that lays the golden egg. Don't let that happen. Fans are not bargaining chips and should be treated with the utmost care and respect. Finally, please cut the bullshit and get busy keeping us, the paying customers, fans happy.

There is a portion of fans larger than the NFL realizes who will willingly turn their backs on the NFL if the league and players union continues down the path it is heading. Count me as one. So do your part fans, show the players union and the NFL who really makes their world go 'round. If you haven't already, do not sign this petition.

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