Over the last few days, I waited out in the cold with the media outside the mediation sessions going on between the NFL and the NFL Players Association. I personally wanted to hand our letter requesting that fans have a representative in the negotiating room to NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
The spokesmen of both the NFL and the NFLPA had both publicly promised to respond to our request, but I wanted to make sure that the heads of both had laid eyes on our letter.
A couple days after I handed him our letter, DeMaurice Smith emerged at the end of one of the sessions and asked if he could chat with me. We had a very good talk -- he said we had written a "great letter" -- and he said that the NFLPA would formally respond on Monday.
(Still haven't heard from the NFL since I handed my letter to Roger Goodell or spokesman Greg Aiello said they would respond.)
We are still very hopeful that both sides will acknowledge the generous investment fans around the country have made to help build this game into the most popular sport in America and choose to include fans in the process. But at the very least, our voice is now being heard.
So I put it to you -- if you were seated at the negotiating table with the NFL and NFLPA, what would you want to see included in a new Collective Bargaining Agreement?
I will start by saying that my first priority would be to get both sides to eliminate the NFL blackout rule, which prevents fans in local markets from seeing games if the stadium isn't sold out. The rule is archaic and even counter-productive. How can you grow a fan base if your fans can't see the games? Many of these fans would love to come to the games but due to the economic recession and the ever increasing price of NFL tickets, they cannot afford it. Further, the revenue generated from these seats is just a drop in the bucket compared to television revenues.
But more than being misguided, it's completely unethical considering that taxpayers in virtually every NFL stadium helped subsidize the stadium. Fans have demonstrated their loyalty by agreeing to finance an NFL stadium.
There are all sorts of other issues that need to be addressed on behalf of fans -- the proposal for 18 game-season, personal seat licenses, teams relocating to other cities, etc. (Here's a humorous list of other demands.)
So what would you like the new collective bargaining agreement to include?
Comment below or email me at email@example.com. I can assure you that the heads of both the NFL and NFLPA will hear our list of demands for the new collective bargaining agreement one way or another, even if I have to stand out in the cold and give it to them.
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.
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