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Outside editorial: After brief hiatus, NFL turns its cash registers back on

Posted: July 31, 2011 - 8:00pm

The following editorial appeared in the Dallas Morning News

So, in the end, the two warring camps argued to the precipice, stared into the darkness and decided to stay up top, safe and content amid their piles of dollar bills.

What, a resolution to the nation’s debt-ceiling debate? Ha, no such luck. Actually, we mean the no-shots-fired, no-prisoners-taken end to the National Football League lockout. Almost before you could miss it, labor peace reigns again over America’s richest sporting pastime. Cue the herald horns.

If only all negotiations could conclude with so little disruption to customers. While the five-month shutdown was deadly serious to the NFL’s owners and players — scrapping over how to split up roughly $9 billion in annual revenues — the net effect on you was minimal, unless you’re a devoted fan of mini-camps and the annual Hall of Fame scrimmage.

Both sides gave a little, as smart negotiators might do. The players gained salary, benefits and smarter work rules. The owners achieved a larger piece of the revenue pie and 10 years of not having to go through this again. And, for now, they backed off their push for an 18-game regular season.

The rush-rush-rush this week is to get draft picks and free agents signed and open training camps.

Pro sports such as the NFL, for better or worse, are ingrained in our culture, with significant spillover economic effects. They are big businesses that exist to make money, but we gladly pay to watch. When we stop, they go away. Other entertainment ventures facing their own labor issues — yes, we mean you, NBA — should take note.

And perhaps other Americans refusing to give a little to get a lot might learn something, too.

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