Lets face it – THE NFL IS KING when it comes to the most popular sport in the U.S.A. For those of us who have been fans over the last forty (40) years know that and the younger generation is learning very quickly as well. The big question these days is are the NFL players and owners dumb enough to screw it up by going on strike?
One must not go too far back to see what happened when another of America’s past time sports tried that and it took them ten (10) years to recover. Major League Baseball is just starting to come back and if they had to do it all over again, there would have never been a strike in 1994. Just ask former baseball players like Matt Williams, who was playing for the Giants at the time (let me brag a bit and make that World Champion Giants) and had a great shot at breaking the home run record that year. Fans walked away and they are just starting to come back.
Needless to say, big lesson learned and whats different between 1994 and now- is allot: the internet, sophisticated mobile phones, a younger generation that wants things now, parity, lets just say enough to realize in these tough times, don’t screw up a good thing. Lets not forget about 30 million fantasy sports fans and 20 million of those fans playing fantasy football.
That’s right do not under estimate the power of one of the most sought after demographics (i.e. primary male between the ages of 28-55, $80K average income, spending on average $1200 annually online) to target market products and build brand loyalty. There is one more powerful play and that’s the ability for NFL Players to market their own brand! See fantasy football is all about players and their performance, so instead of watching your favorite team, your watching 49ers Frank Gore, San Diego’s Antonio Gates, Detroits Calvin Johnson, New Englands Tom Brady. Following players vs. teams twenty years ago that was unheard of, now its mainstream.
Check out for example the fantasy football forums of one great NFL fantasy website and you will see nothing but chatter about NFL Players. My good friend Andy Benoit and I argue about this all the time, as you can read about his raving NFL writers for each team. Fantasy Football is big business and its driving player brand awareness in a whole new way, that increase’s a players market ability and impacts the future value of that player- which will impact their ability to negotiate.
Lets also not forget that the NFL Owners have all the leverage here, they are rich with 95% of them using their NFL teams as a tax write off, so they have tons of money. Just ask Jerry Jones or Daniel Snyder, these owners can afford a work stoppage vs. these younger very rich/spoiled players who don’t know how to save money. Sure they sound unified now, but when it comes to missing out on weekly payday’s that range between $400K and one million a week, watch them crumble and fold like a cheap suit.