Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I Fear the Effects of an NFL Lockout

This season is very important for a lot of reasons, some more than others. One of the most important implications of the 2010 year is the labor negotiations that are looming over the games like a dark cloud. 2010 is the last year of play that can happen under the current NFL collective bargaining agreement, and 2011 may be headed for a lockout due to how far apart the sides are on a new one. For me, a year without football would be horrible, and you can bet that it wouldn’t be good for the NFL either. But, the question I want to pose is whether or not football cards can survive a whole year without people watching the game on TV.

Back in 1994, Baseball faced a similar predicament when play stopped due to a players strike. The 1994 post season and world series were cancelled, and MLB bore most of the problems due to the lack of games. Until Sosa and McGwire reignited the nation's love interest in baseball in 1998, it was bleak for MLB. It took practically four years for the fans to return to the game, and from 1995-1998, it was almost taboo to have faith in baseball again. During the work stoppage and the years after, the card companies definitely felt the hurt as well. Because there was such a drastic drop in the respect level towards baseball in general, many people stopped buying cards. The industry obviously survived, but those were different times.

Prior to 1994 I bought more cards than the other kids on my block combined. I loved buying and ripping open the packs, as well as going to card shows with my dad. When the strike hit in 1994, it was like I gave up overnight. I couldn’t understand why a player would value the money over a game like Baseball. I eventually moved into listening to music, playing video games, being a teenager, and doing the normal things that teenagers do. I actually didn’t get back into cards until Pujols' rookie season, almost 6 years later. From what I have gathered from numerous people I have talked to, it was the same for them. Our view of a work strike was a deal breaker, and I think that if it were to happen in the NFL, cards would be in BIG trouble this time around.

In 2004-05, the NHL had to cancel their entire season due to a lockout. It was so detrimental to the league that there were talks of the teams disbanding. Hockey lost national broadcasting deals, fans, and tons of money, mostly due to the expected reactions of the fans. Because the different entities thought this lockout would mirror the effects of the MLB strike 10 years earlier, they were very quick to jump overboard instead of weathering the storm. Hockey is back on TV now, but the effects of the lockout still linger in some areas of the game. Hockey cards made it through the lockout as well, but again, it’s a different situation. I think that because of the fact that Hockey was not a major sport for either Upper Deck or the other manufacturers at the time, it wasn’t a finishing blow to the line. The nation was also doing much better than they are currently, and when people have money to spend, hobbies based on disposable income flourish.

If there is not an agreement between the NFL owners and the NFLPA, it could be so detrimental to many parts of our hobby, that the card companies may not be able to stomach another work stoppage. Card sales have declined dramatically enough that a year without the rookies playing games, may have all sorts of problems for the products that thrive on them performing well. Although I wouldn’t give up on my collection this time because of the sheer investment I have made in the pieces I love, I would definitely halt a good portion of my spending until the games resumed. Because the companies were already vastly affected by the massive recession, to throw a lockout on top of it could force the companies into other markets permanently.

Hell, they may not even be able to or want to produce football cards with the two sides in a drag 'em out brawl. Why spend the money on putting out a product that wont sell because of America's hatred of both sides being as greedy as they are? Its also another year off the career of some of the aging titans of the league, and a year off the prime time of the younger players too. With the average lifespan of an NFL superstar creeping under 10 years, it may cause a lot of issues in the long run for investors to have one of those years scratched out.

The bottom line is that a lockout is like the atomic bomb. It should never be used, and if it is used for some reason, total destruction usually ensues. Hopefully the two sides understand that maybe the game is more important than their petty bullshit surrounding rookie pay structure and the like.

1 comment:

  1. If there should be no NFL football next year, I will be pissed. Not upset that I can't watch football, which I love, but upset that the two sides are too greedy and stupid to find a compromise.

    It is HIGHLY insulting to someone like me. And there are many, many people in America in my situation or worse. My wife and I both work full time and are still able to pay our bills barely, while athletes and CEO's are quibbling over the billions of dollars fans pour into their league every year. The average fan can't afford 2 tickets to a game without a big cut in the budget. I've put off buying a $100 jersey to make sure my kids have school clothes and I have work shoes.

    But what little disposable income I've saved, I've concentrated on buying cards over the past few years at the expense of all my other interests. Now is the perfect time to buy cards if you can afford to because people are selling their cards and collectibles to pay their bills.

    It's a buyer's market, and I don't see how that will change if there is no football next year and fans lose interest and respect for the NFL. The NFL will continue and both sides will be forced to compromise in order to keep afloat. The irony is both sides will have to settle for less profit because of their greed. I guess they'll get what they deserve.

    If there is a lockout, I will use the time and my disposable income to catch up on a lot of the cards from previous years that I've wanted while people sell their devalued cards even faster and cheaper out of frustration.

    The NFL will be up to speed again within several years and hopefully the economy will pickup within the next decade, but I have my doubts. I don't think we've seen the worst of it yet.

    But as long as I have disposable income, I will keep on buying and hope in 20 years it will be a good economy and time to sell what I hope by then will be an awesome collection.

    I know what you mean though. It's such a waste all around. The stars get older and the rooks stay rooks for another year while smaller card companies will fight to survive.

    Ofcourse, I side more with the players and coaches. They put a ton of effort and work into being the best they can be and make us fans happy as well. But they already get compensated well for their hard work.

    And nobody cares about the owners getting a chunk taken out of their profits. It's hard to feel sorry for multi-millionaires and billionaires.

    All I know is that I wish I could get paid anywhere close to what I think I am worth, and I wish I could just threaten to not work until I get more money without watching my boss laughing uncontrollably as she fires me.