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As Long as We Remember...

March 29, 2011

No Tears for These Guys

Shawn Burns

Business is good for professional sports. All 32 National Football League teams are making money during a time when the national unemployment rate is at least nine percent.


Annual NFL revenues are estimated at more than $9 billion. The majority of teams would sell for around $1 billion and the average annual player salary is $1.75 million. The minimum rookie salary is $325,000. Not a bad paycheck for someone with absolutely no experience at the professional level. The average annual income across America is around $30,000.


As of today, the players are on strike because the players and owners cannot agree on how to divide the $9 billion pot.


This is a battle between billionaires and millionaires. It’s hard for the average fan of America’s most popular sport, to have much sympathy, especially with so many people out of work and living in fear of losing their homes.


For those of us old enough to remember the NFL strikes of 1982 and 1987, we remember Sunday afternoons without football and a few other Sunday afternoon games played by teams of castoffs and no-name replacement players.


Those strikes, like all strikes, were about money. But this time around the value of the NFL makes the money at stake so much greater; and the financial consequences of failure that much greater as well.


The economic impact around the cities that these teams call home will have serious consequences for all of the venders working at the stadiums. All of the local hotels, restaurants, shops – and anyone else who operates a business in these areas – will see their incomes lowered or even completely eliminated by a prolonged strike. Just ask any business owner in these areas how they feel about the prospect of no games being played on Sundays this fall.


The average ticket cost to attend an NFL game was about $75 in 2010; and the average price of ticket where you can actually see the game is around $240.


Again, it is hard for the average fan to have much sympathy or understanding for players or owners.


Estimates indicate that the value of franchises has increased 30 percent in the last 12 years.


What exactly are these guys fighting about? It seems to me that everyone is making money and getting rich. For the players: What other job can you do for 10 years and retire at 35 as a millionaire? And what other job can you do where, with no experience, you are guaranteed to make at least $325,000?


The reality of this dispute is that nothing any of these guys say or so will garner them much sympathy from anybody.


Ultimately, owners and players will come to some kind of resolution, even if it turns out to be a short term fix because there is just too much money to leave on the table.


Also, I’ve heard that all of the players who make $800,000 or less are worried about the idea of a long strike. Poor guys. It must be hard.


I, for one, am hoping for a strike that shortens the season. Why? Because I am hoping history will repeat itself. My Washington Redskins won the Super Bowl in both the 1982 and 1987 strike shortened seasons.


So, strike away and Hail to the Redskins.


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