Monday, May 26, 2008

I may never care about the NFL again

By David Harrison
Sports Fan


Man, did you hear the news about the NFL collective bargaining agreement? That the NFL owners might stage a lockout in 2011? That would be, quite possibly, the worst thing that's ever happened to my professional sports world.

We've already been at this stage in life, when Major League Baseball had a strike in 1994. My world came crashing down when there was no World Series, and I remembered how angry I felt. I told myself I would never watch another MLB game again. I ended up going back on that promise, but I did boycott Spring Training in 1995 successfully.

But if the NFL decided to lockout, I know I would never watch pro football again. I would be too heartbroken, smashed by this game that I love so much. These people run an entertainment business, and they reap millions of dollars every year, but they're going to shut out the little guy so they can get some wording right on a contract? You'll be sorry NFL, when you have a work stoppage. You'll never get me back.

Sure, I'll have to find other things to do on my Sundays once the NFL returns -- maybe picnics with the wife and kids in the fall and maybe I'll go snowmobiling with my buddies in the winter. I might even go to church. I'll live without that rush of anticipation as I jump out of bed each morning, and I'll be just fine without StatTracker whirring and giving me up-to-the-instant updates on my fantasy team. That stuff is all poisonous to the mind, anyway. Maybe my wife is right.

It will be just like baseball, when all those fans vowed they would never come back. Look at baseball now -- completely dormant because of all those fans they put off more than a decade ago. The game will never recover.

Neither will the NFL. There will be no gathering of 20-somethings to share beers and Doritos on Monday nights. There will be no packed stadiums with crazy lunatics who began drinking at 8 a.m. There will be no merchandise empire or sports bars filled to the brim with crazy drunken fans. There may be no drinking, period. It's just going to be another game, on par with hockey or soccer. I'd venture a guess that maybe one-tenth of American males will know who's leading the division on a given Sunday in November.

Not only that, but they're going to get rid of the salary cap, which will totally ruin football just like baseball. Can you imagine if there was no competitive balance? Where teams like the Patriots and Cowboys succeeded every year, and teams like the Bills and Texans struggled year-in, year-out? That would be devastating to the game.

It's all very disgusting, and I feel my fandom is in jeopardy just by them opting out of the contract and even making this an issue. You're on parole, football. If you perform a lockout, you're going to be locked away forever.

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