Fans deserve to be present at NFL negotiations.
Tuesday night, the Sports Fans Coalition sent a letter to the NFL and the NFL Players Association requesting that representatives from the fans be present during future negotiations until an agreement is reached.
Allowing representatives of the fans to be present in the room is the least the NFL and NFLPA can do.
In the letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, we write:
We are not asking for a seat at the negotiating table -- although we believe fans deserve one -- but merely to be present in the room so that we may inform fans across the country about the state of ongoing negotiations and ensure that progress is being made towards an agreement that ensures a central consideration of fans.
As fans and taxpayers, we have invested over $6.5 billion around the country on NFL stadiums, in addition to the billions we have spent on tickets and NFL merchandise. We have transformed our urban centers with the promise that new stadiums would serve as an economic boon to the surrounding community. A work stoppage would be devastating to many cities, including local workers and businesses.
The NFL and other professional sports leagues also enjoy an exemption from federal antitrust statutes with respect to negotiating broadcast rights, which has enabled the owners and players to make significant revenues.
If the NFL and NFLPA cannot come to an agreement and a devastating work stoppage is the result, the public has a right to know why.
We realize that our request is likely to be greeted with skepticism by the NFL and NFLPA and some fans. But why?
Why should the negotiations be behind closed doors if fans have such a massive stake in the future of the NFL as well?
If the league and the players want to play in stadiums that are completely privately financed on private property, they are free to do so. They can lockout and strike and blackout all the games they want.
Sports are different from other businesses, though. Not only do they ask for heavy public subsidies, they unite our communities in a way that Coca-Cola, Ford Mustangs and American Idol never could.
These are our Packers or our Lakers or our Red Sox. We feel invested in the teams. And oftentimes, that's because we literally are invested in them.
So it's time that all those who have invested -- with our hearts and our tax dollars -- have someone representing them in the negotiating room.
Hell, it's gotta work better than the status quo.
If you agree, please let the NFL and NFLPA know and head over to Save Next Season to show your support for the fans.
Brian Frederick is the Executive Director of Sports Fans Coalition. He holds a Ph.D. in Communication and lives in Washington, D.C. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.