Even if you're on the owners' side, they are not on yours.

Don't Side With the Owners

I really don’t care whether or not you agree with the NFL’s now defunct players association or the arguments coming from the group of lawyers representing their interests. For the sake of this entire article, let’s just pretend that your feelings about the players, DeMaurice Smith and Jeffrey Kessler don’t exist and let’s just talk about the NFL owners and how preposterous saying you support them is, especially if you hail from Tampa.

The NFL owners care about money, not the fans. Getting those two things confused is possible because one comes from the others, but don’t believe for a second that any owner cares about anything outside of a fan’s wallet. It’s why ticket prices rise in times of economic downturn, it’s why we return from commercial breaks for a kickoff and then go back to three more minutes of ads. It’s ultimately why most of them care about winning.

Are there good owners? Yes. But at the heart of it the NFL is a business and to believe that the owners are negotiating for the fans is wrong, or at least misguided. They’re negotiating so they can get the most money out of the fans. If you think I’m being overly one-sided, again, none of this has anything to do with the players at all. Just give me five minutes…

Have you ever seen a business model with a greater sense of entitlement than the NFL? I mean, ignoring for a fact that both sides clearly take the fans for granted (and are probably right that as long as no football is missed the fans will come back), look at the concept of the blackout and tell me why any fan would be pro-owner.

As has been highly publicized in this CBA fiasco, the NFL is going to make it’s TV money no matter what. Heck, even with no football this year (unless a Judge David Doty says otherwise) the owners would make over 4 billion dollars in TV revenue without producing anything. Yet, if a team doesn’t sell out, fans in a 75 mile radius of the stadium can’t watch a team’s home game.

Now, first of all, isn’t it on the owners to make fans want to come to a game? Last time I checked, if you own a business and you can’t get patrons to come to that venue you are failing as a business owner. In the NFL you blame the customer and punish them by blacking the game out.

That both makes zero business sense as it seems like the best way to get people to come to the games would be to demonstrate how good the product on the field is, but ignoring that, the TV ratings may still be very good despite low attendance. All across the country, sports teams are finding in a recession that despite difficulty shelling out for tickets, parking and concessions, fans still want to to tune in. Good ratings help the networks. There’s are thousands of households in Tampa every year that would love to tune into Fox or CBS and watch the Buccaneers but can’t because of the blackout rules. You’re telling me the local affiliates don’t want those viewers?

The sad part is the underlying sentiment coming from the NFL is that football fans will probably still tune in just because it’s the NFL. How arrogant is that? They’re the only business I can think of that actually punishes its customers but are still so arrogant about their product that they tell the networks, people in their local markets will still tune in even if their city’s team can’t legally be shown.

That’s like saying, ‘if we don’t achieve an internal, organizational milestone we’re going to tank our part of the partnership and give your local affiliates a less attractive product.’

In any other context, that’s just terrible and nobody would want to do business with these people. In the NFL the networks are so eager they’ll actually contract to pay billions even if there is no product.

The fans win in that equation, how? I mean ignoring the lesser arguments, like for instance the fact it’s awfully unlikely 31 billionaires got jobbed on the last CBA and ended up making a terrible business deal (as they claim is their justification for opting out of the last deal early) think about how you would explain the blackout rule to someone who isn’t a football fan and doesn’t understand it.

‘Well they don’t let the network show the game in that city because they want people to buy tickets.’

Making people want to come to the stadium is the owner, and the organization’s job, they act like it’s a privilege to have them in our communities and we must pay them tribute or risk losing them forever. And that threat has happened a number of times to cities with great fans but economic issues (Baltimore, Cleveland, Houston).

Because it’s all about money, which is understandable, it’s a business, but you’re not out waving a banner for your bank either, are you? And at the end of the day, most of the facilities these teams used were constructed with some form of tax-payer contribution, so shouldn’t it be our prerogative whether we go sit in them or not?

If you’ve lived in Tampa a while you likely helped pay for Raymond James Stadium yet if the Bucs don’t sell enough tickets by Thursday of the week of the game, the NFL’s owners have negotiated that we’re not legally even allowed to watch the team that plays there.

The onus to fill a stadium is on the owners.

I don’t agree with Jerry Jones on almost anything, but I do give him a lot of credit, he gets how it’s supposed to work with filling a stadium. Jerry knew he had to put butts in the seats and he knew with the advent of the HDTV and how good cameras and NFL TV production had become that would be a challenge. So he built a stadium where the worst seat in the whole joint was better than almost any living room in Texas. He commissioned dozens of artists to fill the stadium with art and culture, put restaurants in and made it an experience. People come to the palace in Dallas because it’s the place to be, and that’s how it’s supposed to work.

I don’t know when the prevailing logic became if not enough people showed up then the whole city got punished, but that’s ridiculous. The owners can do that, of course, it’s within their right. But when they come to the fans for support, that’s when I think it becomes a bit foolish to actually give it to them.

They don’t support you, they’re not cutting ticket prices in economically depressed cities. You don’t see jerseys getting any cheaper. They’re not cutting breaks on black-outs. If you don’t have money then $#%@ you.

Because as much as we love the NFL, the NFL doesn’t love us back, it loves our wallets and pursestrings. Loyalty has never been the name of the game, maximizing profits is. That’s why despite riding their loyal fan-base to increasing profits (yes, they’re making more money than ever) and an all-time high in popularity, they whore their pinnacle event, the Super Bowl, to the mainstream group of people who want to watch Steven Tyler walk a red carpet and Cameron Diaz feed A-Rod popcorn.

The NFL takes its valued customers for granted in an ever-increasing effort to reach the new audience, and I’m not faulting the owners for taking that tact I’m just questioning why any fan would support the owners when in any other capacity in life you would be angry at a business for treating you like that as a customer.

In real life, it’s their privilege to serve you. In the NFL it’s a privilege to be served. That’s their right, but the owners do the fans literally zero favors. It’s not time to start pretending that they do.

Tags: Lockout NFL Owners

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