There’s no doubt about the fact that – from a financial perspective – the NFL has been doing great lately. Franchise values have doubled over the last 10 years and median player revenue has hit new highs as well. The millionaires and the billionaires are doing great, yet for some reason, they both want more, and they want it so bad they’re ready to scuttle the boat to keep the paddles afloat. In the unfolding labor dispute, The NFL seems to have the upper hand, but the appearances are misleading indeed in this case.
The fact that football has never appealed to so many people as it does today and that its popularity is through the roof, may be a wolf in sheep’s clothing for the league. The fans are ultimately the engine which keeps the monster rolling, and the fans are only interested in one thing: watching quality football. Regardless of what the NFL would like to think about fan loyalty, fans don’t care about where that quality football comes from. This is exactly why the current labor dispute is dangerous territory for the league. Players may just decide they’ve had enough of the league’s antics, and provided enough of them stick together, an alternative to the NFL may quickly emerge and take over.
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This is a new day and age in professional sports, and whether or not the NFL likes it, the truth is that its infrastructure can be replicated within a few months’ time. Provided the new organization managed to secure enough talent from the get go, the NFL could find itself belly-up much sooner than anyone would think possible. Although the startup of such a new league would be rather rocky one, shifting fan loyalty would mark the point after which the business would become viable. The new league could then be used as a bargaining chip for further negotiations with the NFL or it could take over completely.
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