In the months and months we've had to deal with the NFL's labor impasse, we've heard a lot of stuff from both sides that could best be described, as William Burroughs once did on an another subject, as "a thin tissue of horse[bleep]." Rhetoric isn't held by one side or the other, though the owners have more practiced advocates of the gilded phrase in their cadre of attorneys and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell himself. A few weeks ago, I was able to sit in on a conference call between Goodell and Seattle Seahawks season ticket holders.
While most of what Goodell said was the standard stuff, one thing really stood out. In a statement that sounded canned at the time, Goodell said to one season ticket holder that the lockout instigated by the league was for the good of the fans, as well. Goodell said that the NFL must roll back overall costs (read: payments to the players) so that ticket prices could be reined in. At the time, it sounded like such an enormous vat of bull-pucky that I assumed Goodell was trying it out on what most people consider a smaller market, and he'd never actually stoop to believing that the NFL's audience would be stupid enough to believe that the owners' need to take equal proceeds from the players — proceeds those players have earned with their blood, sweat and broken bones — was somehow related to the ever-increasing expense of the NFL experience.
I was wrong.
More than one Bucs season-ticket holder told Goodell the pace of the collective bargaining talks have left them feeling anything but special and that fans are being taken for granted.
Goodell tried to assure that was not the case. The rising cost of attending games, he said, is one reason the league is working hard to hammer out a favorable CBA.
"We can't continue to shift the cost, whether it's the rising player cost or the rising cost of operating an NFL franchise, on to our fans,'' he said. "That's why we're trying to get a better economic model.
"And I think everyone understands that. You are not being left out of the equation. The fans are a big part of that equation and a big part of the success of NFL football.''
To put it as bluntly as possible, this is the biggest load of crap I have ever heard or read in my entire life. The man running the same league that treats Super Bowl nosebleed seat attendees about as well as Guantanamo residents has absolutely no business whatsoever trying to equate a power move that threw thousands of people into open-ended unemployment with no insurance, medical assistance or known future with some sort of nebulous fan interest. The man running the league that tried to hoard $4 billion in TV money to break the NFLPA once and for all offends the base intelligence of the dumbest person in creation when he tries to insist that the lockout is about anything but a craven money-grab that would make the producer of a reality TV show blush.
Aaron Schatz has the burden of being my editor at Football Outsiders, and he also happens to hold a degree in economics from Brown University. Aaron was equally offended.
This is nonsense. Ticket prices are primarily decided by two variables: supply of tickets and demand for tickets. That's basic economics. When you're pricing tickets, you charge what the market will bear. It doesn't matter what your player costs are. Otherwise, all 32 teams would be non-profit operations.
If you cut costs, you don't drop your ticket prices. You take profit home. I can't think of any team that wouldn't want more profit, except perhaps Green Bay.
If player costs go up, you don't raise ticket prices past the point where supply and demand meet. That's inefficient, because the rise in prices won't make up for the corresponding drop in ticket sales.
Hey Roger, do you want to lower ticket prices for fans? STOP CHARGING FULL PRICE FOR PRESEASON EXHIBITION GAMES. Heck, you could even shift the charges and raise the cost of regular season tickets to cover the drop in the prices of preseason tickets, and I bet most fans would be fine with that. People are just plain offended at the idea that preseason games cost the same amount of money as regular season games. Last time I checked, the Red Sox don't charge $100 for spring training tickets.
At a time when negotiations between the owners and players finally seem to be taking the right turn, it is a move of unbelievable stupidity for Goodell to say such things. After all this time, lying to the fans will do nothing to curry public favor, and unless Goodell wants to outline just how taking money away from the players is going to drop the price of season tickets and DIRECTV subscription rates, that's exactly what he's doing — lying through his teeth.
If Goodell wants to act in the best interest of the league, the players and the fans, the best course of action is to cut the silly conference calls, get back in the room, and help to figure out a deal that's best for all involved. Propaganda is beyond useless at this point — it's dangerous and destructive to the idea of a full season, and labor peace in the future.
Just shut up, Rog. That's all we ask.