Sunday, March 13, 2011

NFL LOCKOUT: Middle Class gets the shaft

At midnight the NFL player's union decertified thus creating the first work stoppage since 1987.
We've heard for months that the NFL's lockout is a fight between millionaires and billionaires. The 24 hour news cycle covering the story has focused primarily on how both the player's and the owners could stand to lose millions of dollars if no football is played in 2011. Just as the middle class fall through the cracks in politics, the same can be said about this lockout. The middle-class warriors, the forgotten many who allow us as fans to enjoy football are all being held out to dry.


This is the number of working people employed by the 32 stadiums across the country. If the NFL can't find a way to divide the 9 billion dollar profit they make every year, thousands will stand to lose their jobs. The concession worker, parking lot attendant, and painter of yard-lines. These hard-working people will have a very difficult time keeping their head above water when they miss one week's paycheck, let alone six months. It's true that players will have to sacrifice, like not buying a chocolate mink coat from burberry and having to settle on a black peacock from Nordstrom's. The owner's might have to cut back as well only sailing their "small" Yacht across the Pacific for one week instead of two. But, the stadium worker has bigger problems. A missed paycheck to them could mean a missed doctors appointment, a missed car payment, or even in certain cases a missed meal.

Many stadium employees have been working there for years; this is all they know. Some do this work over another profession for the pure enjoyment of being able to be close to their favorite team every Sunday. I know from personal experience that when my Uncle hit retirement age and still needed to make a living, he took to being an usher for the Philadelphia Phillies. It's not just a job to him. The three hours at the ball park is an outlet, a chance to breathe in the nostalgia and experience the pure gratification of being three rows away from his favorite team. If he was an usher for the Philadelphia Eagles, he wouldn't be getting that feeling come the fall.

It's not just the workers inside of the stadiums that will suffer from a lockout, but the thousands more whose businesses rely on football games every weekend. Small suburban towns like Green Bay count on Packer home games to make a majority of their week's profit. Still recovering from the largest economic collapse since the great depression, the NFL lockout will prevent local communities from taking necessary steps to fix their individual economies. Big metropolises like New York and Chicago, while heartbroken over no football, will be able to find other things to occupy their time and money, but cities like Green Bay will not. The Nashville's, Buffalo's, and Green Bay's of the world whom make their livings from NFL sundays will be unable to make up for the losses of patrons spending money on local bars, restaurants, and merchandise shops.

The Stadium Bar and Grille in Green Bay, which sits across the street from the Lambeau field employ 100 part-time workers every home game. Losing the NFL, would mean losing 1/3 of their revenue for the year equaling $750,000 dollars. How are small businesses like this one supposed to make up for this kind of loss? Imagine Wanderland, a famous costume shop in Philadelphia. It's like telling them they can sell costumes every day of the year except for Halloween. They would be losing out on 25% of their yearly revenue with no way to recuperate from the missed opportunity.

And the factories that employ thousands to make NFL footballs?

What about the dry cleaners that all have deals with their cities team to wash the players uniforms after every game?

How about the churches and schools that have concession stands at the game in order to raise money for books, trips, and extracurricular activities?

Hotels like The Holiday Inn one block from Reliant Stadium in Houston will suffer. Their food and drink tab is $2,000 on a normal weekend. But, when the Texans are playing at home, they make six times that amount. Like other hotels across the country, they will lose occupancy. Fans that normally travel with their favorite teams, will all be grounded on their couches at home.

In the wake of the most devastating tsunami to hit Japan in over a century, fighting two wars, and an economy still shaking from the wall street meltdown, the NFL and the player's should be able to find some common ground when it comes to the game of football. Because, at the end of the day it's just a game. A very profitable, money making machine, but a game. A ball, a field, a goal post.  When most companies have been downsizing, cutting, and losing, the NFL has been paying, making, and winning.

There will always be disagreements, but a lockout help's no one, while negatively affecting almost everyone.

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