Antitrust

Are You Ready for Some Football (Lockout, That Is)? Reason.tv Breaks Down the NFL Labor Lockdown Mess

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Reason.tv originally released the video above on February 14, 2011, weeks before negotiations between National Football League owners and NFL players deteriorated to the point where the NFL Players Association moved yesterday to decertify itself as the collective bargaining representative for the guys whose bones get crunched every Sunday during a good chunk of the fall and winter months (less so, of course, if you play for Detroit).

Make no mistake: This is the labor dispute that you'll still be talking about in six months. Like a Twilight novel, it pits vampires versus werewolves, is filled with a ton of adolescent drama, and will likely end with the taxpayers and fans somehow stuck with even more of the bill in the form of increased ticket prices, subsidies, and (arguably worst of all), homilies from sportscasters about how this never used to happend back when it was all just a game.

A month ago, Reason.tv's Austin Bragg explained how we got here and, in a stunning display of prescience, how things just may turn out.

Here's the original writeup for the video:

Now that the Super Bowl is over, it's time for the really big game: the labor battle between National Football League owners and players.

The NFL's collective bargaining agreement, which governs how much players can make, what teams can spend on payrolls, and much more, is set to expire in March. Despite sweetheart deals with publicly financed stadiums and hefty national television contracts, owners say they are being bled dry by runaway salaries and tight economic times. They're looking to extend the regular season to 18 games and for players to forego $7 billion in potential pay increases over the next seven seasons. The players, represented by the federally certified NFL Players Association, want to see the owners' books, more pay for extra games, and other concessions.

Given the amount of money in play, Vegas oddsmakers are betting heavy that the owners will lock out players for the first time since 1987, when a work stoppage shortened the season by a game. In 1982, similar problems led to just nine regular-season games being played.

But don't mistake this for a classic showdown between management and labor hashing out differences on an even playing field. Given the amount of public money in play through stadium deals and the fact that individual players must negotiate collectively through the government-certified NFLPA, federal regulations have almost guaranteed a nasty, sudden-death battle.

How things will shake out is far from certain, but this much is a lock: If the 2011 NFL season is scrapped in part or in whole, the real goat will be government meddling in what should be a purely private negotiation among millionaires and billionaires.

Approximately 3 minutes.

Produced by Austin Bragg.

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