NFL Lockout 2011: The Fans' Demands For The New Agreement
While the collective public waits with anticipation for the results of the push and pull between the owners—essentially a union you know as the National Football League (a.k.a. NFL) and the players that populate that league, represented by the union known as the National Football League's Player Association (a.k.a. NFLPA)—the voice of the source of funds remains unrepresented.
If you have not figured out who that is, then here is a hint: It is most likely you, the reader, and the fan.
The strongest union behind any form of entertainment is the fan that funds the source of entertainment. The media (i.e. television, radio, print, internet, etc.) would not be able to pay billions of dollars for broadcasting rights without the advertising revenue taken in from the advertisers (i.e. companies selling their products and services). In turn the advertisers would not be able to fork over the big dollars to the media without customers actual buying their goods and services—which again, is most likely you or someone you helped refer to the advertiser.
Merchandise (direct or licensed product or services) revenue—you.
Concession's revenue—you again.
Essentially, this is a fight about your money. Who gets it and how is it used.
The media has somewhat of a voice as they collect it just as the advertisers have somewhat of a voice because they collect it as well, but the biggest contingent with the most influence (and the most fragmented) is you, the fan.
So, in representation of the newly anointed National Football League Fan Association, I present the fan negotiating points which need (i.e. should) be included for football to continue at an optimal level.
Enhance Revenue Sharing
Now I will admit that I have a unique perspective about the present system in that my team benefits from the present revenue sharing model (well, rather that my team's owners benefit from the present revenue sharing model).
Fan union disclosure—I am a Cincinnati Bengals fan. So let us use the Bengals as an example.
Essentially, the Bengals get a bunch of revenue shared which is made by other teams and the owner gets to decide if he wants to spend it on his team and facilities or simply give it to his family, personal bank account and onwards—so long as they meet their minimum obligations to maintain the team.
Guess what happens if the owner decides to, say, pay out $50 million to the team management which happens to all be (pretty much) members of the immediate family between 1994 and 2000? Ask any Bengals' fan or look at the team's record.
Meanwhile, the Bengals have the smallest (and least experienced) personnel department in the league (his son and brother head that one up), has no indoor practice dome and generally looks for cheap deals in players (i.e. tainted goods) rather than investing.
So why do I bring up the Bengals as an example? Because every team in the NFL should feel cheated by owners like those of the Bengals and the Buffalo Bills.
Here is what needs to change:
Put a cap on owners' profit based on the performances of the team (e.g. based on win-loss record, etc): The lower the performance, the more the team has to invest in players and facilities (cut the family management out).
A percentage of this revenue is used for facility upgrades which are not in line with an established league standard and more is invested in player talent.
It would need a lot of work and equations to close the loopholes but that is the idea here (such as the players "laying down" to get access to more money).
This would increase the competitive spirit and force owners and players to strive for excellence.
Signing Bonuses Cannot Be Paid out in Full and Must Follow the Actual Cap Affect
Stop the distribution of an entire signing bonus at the beginning of the contract being divided out over the years of a contract to avoid the salary cap.
Bonus is paid each year and is against the salary cap in the year it is actually paid.
Medical Personnel Best In Class
Either have player input or an independent committee which holds the highest standards and requires teams to employ doctors independently verified as being the best of breed (so to speak).
No on-the-cheap by the owner.
Same goes for minimum investment in scouting department.
Marketing and Charity Contribution League Requirement
Spice up the image (and tax deduction): Require more community contributions and involvement through exemptions and participation.
Not just players but owners too.
Fan Loyalty Incentives: Season Ticket and Loyalty Incentives
Require teams to have fan clubs.
Like baseball, have souvenir games, require more T-shirts to be shot into the stands and the like.
Create a more defined customer service standard.
Offseason Conditioning Regimen (How Much Vacation Time Do the Rest of Us Get??)
Require minimum conditioning standards for players in order to increase career length: Up the standard to lower the weight of offensive and defensive linemen so they have a longer life (and walking) expectancy.
Vacation or off-time is a luxury which many of us do not enjoy and getting two full months off in a row is too much.
Players, you are not in school anymore—just like the rest of us.
Fan and Media Competitive Commission & Advisory Committee
Create a way for formal input from fans and the media in a collaborative advisory capacity with some approval power.
A lot of thought would need to go into this but making the fans investors in the development of a team and knowledgeable regarding the inner workings of a team would benefit ethical owners.
This would take a lot of thought and careful planning (sorry, no drunk fans or those that wear fireman hats at Jets games)...
More Action, Less Dead Play Clock Run-Off
Time to stop the clock more and close the gap between plays.
Something has got to give here—the actual playing time (i.e. time where the plays are run) is appalling.
Make All Players Eligible for Run or Pass on Offense–No Reporting Eligible
This eligible receiver, running back, etc. rule is just a waste.
The defenses need to understand that playing in zones comes with risks just like man-to-man coverage does. I see no great reason for eligibility rules which state that seven linemen are required and only the ends are eligible.
Simply make the middle five ineligible and that is that.
Also, there needs to be a look at the defensive side, as there is no comparable or proportionate rule on that side of the ball.
I know this one will draw heat, so have at it.
The preseason is already a waste. Four games is just overkill.
More regular season games means more chances for teams to stay alive and develop their record.
More competition, less whining, more action and less Prima donna-syndrome.
The NFL needs to make rules that make athletes be more athletic and makes owners more accountable towards achieving excellence.