Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Five Winners and Losers in the NFL Lockout Ruling


1) Fantasy league services. This industry was staring down the barrel of a nuclear winter situation where leagues didn't order materials, owners didn't pay for advanced information, sites lost tens of millions of paid impressions and casual players maybe just evaporated for years. Now, they have hope that everything will be the way things were before, with minimal disruptions or long-term damage. Especially for sites like Yahoo, where display advertising revenue is absolutely critical in an era of diminishing returns, this is immense.

2) Stadium workers. The employment situation in the NFL goes far beyond the players, of course: local communities benefit from parking and concession workers, grounds crews, training and promotions staffs and more. While most of these folks do not work full-time, that revenue still puts food on tables and gas in cars, and in this economy, that's nothing to sneeze at.

3) Parking garage owners. You and I may sneer and hate the amounts charged near the stadiums to park your ride, but the plain and simple of it is that real estate costs big, and a few months of zero revenue would have more than a few of these guys going belly-up. And sure, your heart would bleed big over that, but it's not as if they aren't having a lot more hope tonight.

4) The free market. If you claim to be a pro-business conservative, you have to be happy. The players decertified their union, still would operate without guaranteed contracts, and are looking to establish a contractor nation where socialistic sharing and monopolistic cabals would take it on the chin. Besides, folks? The owners are scum, even by the low standards of the rich. Screw 'em.

5) The networks. A month-long lockout in the off-season may not seem like a big deal, but to advertising buyers who are already wondering if they'll be able to get the exposure they need for the hard-to-reach sports fan demographic, this is huge. Especially with poker, which hits a similar but niche demographic, spontaneously combusting earlier this month.


1) The media.
Isn't it kind of amazing that a relatively predictable outcome to a court case would seem to take everyone reporting on the case out of their element? For any fan trying to make sense of the ruling tonight, all that you get is "We Dunno! It's CHAOS!" in regards to whether players are going to start reporting to off-season workouts for bonuses, whether teams would start breaking ranks and start making signings and trades, and even if the appeal was likely to work. It's kind of amazing, when you think about it, just how poorly prepared for this decision they were, and it's not exactly a crowning moment for them.

2) Roger Goodell. The image of the commissioner takes yet another hit, as the single best hope for the league's fans so far in this mess is coming from the exact source that he pooh-poohed. No one believes him to be a neutral party in this, or a competent one. But what can you expect for a man who is only worth $1 a year?

3) The NFL owners. All along, they thought they'd starve out those poor-planning players, so beholden to the paycheck to take care of their relatives and posses, and enjoy the soft-focus spotlight of a complicit media. Now with the clear reality of the judge's ruling giving everyone hope that the status quo could be restored, it's clear to even the biggest blueblood toadie that the owners are the people who stopped the ball... and like tax raises on the rich, it's popular despite not being said out loud. Now, if they only break ranks and start signing free agents and making trades, maybe the whole hard-line of big market vs. small market vs. players changes.

4) The NBA owners. Everything that's going on here is a preview for the 2011 NBA lockout, with the small difference that the Association actually has teams that lose money hand over fist, unlike the NFL. The law works on precedent, and today's ruling gives the players a big heavy stick of it to use in a court case.

5) Wives, girlfriends and kids. On some level, I'm kind of intrigued to see what would happen to this country if two of the three major sports were to suddenly go away, and the time and money that's spent on merch, tickets, gambling, tailgating and more were to go back into household budgets. Would we be a better society, with less money wasted, more quality time spent on movies and time outdoors, with better Chrismases, shared homework, more pepople in the stands at high school football games and dance recitals and all of the other just showing up stuff?

Yeah, I know, probably not; more time with absent people is probably far from a panacea. But with just one ruling, it's looking less likely that we'll ever know.

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