Lockouts and Babies and Suckers: The General State of Being Disappointed by Major Sports

The year 2011 has been pretty agonizing for sports fans.  Until August, we waited and waited for the NFL to resolve its labor issues, thinking there might not be a football season this year.  At half past the eleventh hour, the posturing finally stopped so that Alleluia! the real games could be played where they belong — on the field.

Unfortunately for fans, the NBA has been even more annoying.  Yesterday marked a crucial turning point, after the NBA Players Association rejected the latest ultimatum served up by the league.  I’ve heard a lot of nyah nyahs and seen a lot of finger pointing.  But the reality is this – both sides are jerks.

Stern NBA players association
Heeeee started it

As fans, we are a bunch of suckers.  Patsies.  Pushovers.  Why?  I’ll tell you why.

The Big Four of professional athletics—the NBA, NFL, MLB,* and NHL**—have all taken us for a ride.   As they negotiate obscenely high salaries and profit sharing schemes, we sit helpless.  We, who fund their whole livelihood and industry, have no leverage.

While every other industry that caters to its clients or constituents, the Big Four enjoy immunity from any consequences because we always come a-running back.

Like when a kid comes home after running away, we’re just so happy that he came around, we don’t even have the heart to punish them.  These organizations dick fans around because they can.  We’ll never leave.  We sigh and we shrug, but that’s our best defense.  It’s our only move.  We never stand firm.  We are such suckers.

Compare this to how we treat our elected officials.  The media vilifies Congress and the President when things become intractable.  We mobilize.  We throw them out of office.  We hold them accountable.

With the Big Four sports, we just crumble like feta cheese.  We don’t Occupy NBA or throw tea onto Soldier Field.  As if they’re our mentally unstable sibling, we feel disloyal if we turn our backs on them even though they’re being selfish.  But it’s just wrong.  They take advantage of our support, loyalty, and unconditional love.

They cancel games through November and just point to the other side.  They try to convince you that they’re pure of heart and that basketball never stops.  They play the victim with their Let Us Play campaign.  But who’s stopping them?  Certainly not us.  If it was, we’d say Just Do It.

Their strikes and lockouts are the literal embodiment of “I’ll take my ball and go home.” It’s the same game of HE STARTED IT that you used with your brother when you were 11.  But now we’re adults.

Adults who just sit there and take it until their stupid tantrum passes.

nacho cheese
Delicious, but wrong

Then, we welcome them back with shouts from the stands.  We buy tickets and jerseys and nachos with cheese from a pumpable bag.  We forget what they put us through and how selfish they’ve been.

We forgive them without ever calling them to the carpet.  There are no consequences.  Because we really like Drew Brees or Kevin Durant, even when they’re part of a coalition of entitled babies.

There’s no tough love.  There’s no departure.  We let them break our hearts every time.   Don’t we see it coming?  Fool me once.. fool me twice… fool me three times a lady.  And, that lady who forgets the past is destined to repeat it.  If we keep playing the fool, at some point, it becomes our own responsibility.

*Editor’s note:

I want to take a moment to point out that you don’t see this kind of entitled diva behavior in lower profile sports.  There will never be an MLS lockout, where the median salary is $80,050 with only 7 players making $1 million or more.  Ryan Hall, the top long distance runner in the country, will never go on strike over a contract.  And although the WNBA caps its players’ salaries at just over $100k, there won’t be a lockout.  Why?  Because fans would walk away.  Because they need us more than we need them.

These are the good guys who our moms wish we would date.  But instead, we hop on the motorcycle with the dickhead who is sleeping with our best friend.

** 1994 was another awful year for sports nuts.  The MLB wrecked the post-season and held out for 232 days, and that wasn’t the first (or last) time.

***And while I don’t care about hockey, there are a grip of people who were pretty distraught when the NHL also went on strike in 1994 (and 2004-2005).


2 thoughts on “Lockouts and Babies and Suckers: The General State of Being Disappointed by Major Sports

  1. The real winners in the NBA lockout: the NCAA. And now, an article celebrating everything from jingoism to Magic Johnson.

    NCAA Goes All Out for College Basketball Opener as NBA Lockout Continues
    Carrier Classic Brings a Little Madness to November
    By: Kerem Ozkan

    Published: November 09, 2011

    With the NBA locked out, Friday’s NCAA season opener will be America’s first significant basketball game since June. And the Veterans Day event, dubbed the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic, is looking to bring a little madness to college hoops’ first game of the season.

    Michigan State and North Carolina will kick off the season on the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson — the ship that threw Osama bin Laden’s body into the ocean — playing on a court constructed specifically for the occasion. Retired NBA stars Magic Johnson and James Worthy will act as honorary captains for their respective alma maters. Five For Fighting, Billy Currington and B. Taylor will cap off the festivities with performances.

    Oh, and fan-in-chief Barack Obama himself will be in attendance.

    The deck of the USS Carl Vinson is prepared for the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic.
    For college basketball and the U.S. Navy, the event will serve as a one-of-a-kind cross-promotion. The Navy is no stranger to sports advertising, in its quest to reach the young male demographic. In addition to the Navy, Quicken Loans, which is based in Michigan, offers VA loans, has a division in North Carolina, and partners with Magic Johnson, jumped on as a sponsor. The company declined to name the amount paid for the title spot, but an event organizer said that the sponsors collectively covered more than $3 million in operations costs.

    State Farm, another heavy presence in sports, is sponsoring a halftime game of H-O-R-S-E with James Worthy, Mario Lopez, Brooklyn Decker, and the winner of an upcoming eBay auction. Event organizer Morale Entertainment says all proceeds will go to charity. The game’s letters will be changed to V-I-N-S-O-N in tribute to the ship.

    Morale is an organization dedicated to “entertaining and celebrating the men and women of the Armed forces,” previously bringing the likes of Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan to visit troops. Mr. Kinnear describes the fruition of the Carrier Classic as a “completion of a vision” for the non-profit.

    Other sponsors include Sears, Coke Zero, Miller High Life, Westwood One and upcoming film “Act of Valor.”

    The biggest winner, however, may well be Barack Obama. With just under a year to go until Election Day, he’ll get to watch his favorite sport while paying tribute to veterans and reminding the nation that he nabbed bin Laden. James Worthy challenged the president to a game of 1-on-1 — it’s anyone’s guess whether the president will accept.

    Dick Vitale and Hannah Storm will cover the game for ESPN. Mario Lopez and Maria Menounos will emcee. The game begins at 7 p.m. EST.

    We already discussed my position on the NFL lockout.

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