The NFL labor war and Lockout is now entering year 23 with little to no progress. Okay, my math is a little off, but that’s how it feels to some of us diehards who follow the NFL 363 days a year. (Yes, I take off Christmas and Mrs. Couch’s birthday.) As the morass of insulting PR, lawyers, injunctions and stays slowly churns along, the media covering the NFL is desperately trying to fill television time and web space with any story they can. It’s sad to watch on many levels, but one disturbing theme is beginning to pop up: “Where is the fan outrage?”
As a self-appointed voice of the fans, I have two responses. First, have you guys been on Twitter or some smaller fan driven blogs in the last few months? The rage out there is palpable. It hasn’t risen to the Egyptian “we’re going to riot in the street level,” but as much as we love football, it is only a game and not a dictatorship. The fans are mad as hell and with each nonsensical selfish move either sides make; you can see the explosion of anger online. Just pay attention.
Secondly, and more importantly, what is the media looking for the fans to do? Both PTI and Profootballtalk have questioned where is the fan outrage. PTI especially acted like the fans don’t care enough. I’m probably behind the curve on this, but the more I watch PTI, the more out of touch with fans I realize Kornheiser and Wilbon are.
So what kind of demonstration is the media looking for? Protests outside the stadiums? Burning effigies of Goodell and DeMaurice Smith in the town square? PSA’s during Sportscenter from fan coalitions like SaveNextSeason? A letter writing campaign to the Commissioner, threatening boycotts of Official NFL Sponsors if the NFL cancels games? (I tried to start a letter writing campaign, but even with sending a link of my letter to dozens of media members, only one outlet was interested enough to report it.)
The fans are pissed about the Lockout. We haven’t physically manifested it, but the rage is there. For now.
With the recent news of the stay from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, it now appears that any chance of relief from the courts is about to be lost. Speaking for myself, even though both sides are not close to a deal, they are about to have a victory. Over me. I don’t know if I have the internal fortitude to keep up this venom much longer. I am on the edge of apathy. And that’s the worst thing that could hope for everyone. If they start losing devout fans like me, the NFL is in real trouble. The question both sides need to be aware of, is if the fan base slips into apathy, will they be able to pull us out?