Fan advocacy group asks to observe NFL, NFL Players Association talks
Here's a novel idea as the NFL and NFL Players Association negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement: What if the people who foot the bill -- the fans -- were allowed to observe the talks?
That's the idea proposed by the Sports Fans Coalition, which sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and to NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith on Tuesday asking "merely to be present in the room" as the sides negotiate in order to "inform fans across the country about the state of ongoing negotiations and ensure that progress is being made towards an agreement that ensures a central consideration of fans."
Brian Frederick, executive director of the Sports Fans Coalition, and David Goodfriend, its chair, reason that, after all, fans are more than a passive audience; they pay for tickets and, often, the bulk of the cost of stadiums. Their letter:
Dear Mr. Goodell and Mr. Smith,
On behalf of NFL fans everywhere, we are requesting that the leadership of Sports Fans Coalition be present for future negotiating sessions between the NFL and the NFL Players Association until such time as a new collective bargaining agreement is reached.
We are not asking for a seat at the negotiating table -- although we believe fans deserve one -- but merely to be present in the room so that we may inform fans across the country about the state of ongoing negotiations and ensure that progress is being made towards an agreement that ensures a central consideration of fans.
As fans and taxpayers, we have invested over $6.5 billion around the country on NFL stadiums, in addition to the billions we have spent on tickets and NFL merchandise. We have transformed our urban centers with the promise that new stadiums would serve as an economic boon to the surrounding community. A work stoppage would be devastating to many cities, including local workers and businesses.
The NFL and other professional sports leagues also enjoy an exemption from federal antitrust statutes with respect to negotiating broadcast rights, which has enabled the owners and players to make significant revenues.
If the NFL and NFLPA cannot come to an agreement and a devastating work stoppage is the result, the public has a right to know why.
Hopefully, both sides can come to an agreement in the immediate future and this great American sport can continue to bring happiness to the many fans, families, and communities that enjoy professional football. Until then, the fans deserve to know that someone in the negotiation process is looking out for their best interests.
We will contact your offices to follow up on this request.
Do they have a valid point? Sure. But negotiations traditionally have been Coke-recipe private and fans aren't likely to get the representation they deserve, even in an era in which privacy is nonexistent. It's certainly important to press the issue, particularly with NBA and baseball labor discussions looming, too.
| February 17, 2011; 1:01 PM ET
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Posted by: NateinthePDX | February 17, 2011 5:17 PM | Report abuse