The 2010-2011 NFL and NBA seasons have both been spectacularly fun to watch. However, America will be wondering whether their two most beloved sports will be gone next year.
The owners and players have both been preparing for the summer of 2011, coincidentally the time when both league contracts expire, to determine the structuring for the Collective Bargaining Agreements.
The NBA’s expires June 30 after the Finals, while NFL executives have been in talks with their players to determine labor regulations for over a month already.
According to Cornell University Law School, CBAs are negotiations between players and owners to determine the conditions of employment. To the average sports fan, the owners want to pay as little as they can for the players that make both sports industries billions of dollars in revenue.
Commissioner David Stern reportedly wanted to cut his players’ salaries by a third of their current salary ($5.35 million per player), while Commissioner Roger Goodell is trying to decide how to divide $9.3 billion in total revenue.
Rajon Rondo, the Boston Celtics’ point guard, said in an interview during the beginning of the season that he has been preparing like there was going to be a season.
Kobe Bryant said in interview he would be open to playing back in Italy if the NBA season fell through.
NFL players such as Bart Scott, Chad Ochocinco and Clay Matthews have all been dabbling with other entertainment options (WWE, Chicago Fire tryouts and Muscle Milk, respectively).
Michael Jordan, revered as the greatest basketball legend, left after winning his third championship with the Chicago Bulls for his father’s pastime, baseball, but didn’t garner the same success he was known for in the NBA.
Shaq and Kobe tried taking their talent to the music studio, but were also criticized for not sticking to what fans knew them by: basketball.
In the end, the legal system will determine who gets paid what they deserve. In 1994, current Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor was a part of setting precedent for the baseball strike.
Although baseball is still considered America’s pastime, the current generation of young fans enjoys the fast-paced tempo of football’s physicality and basketball’s high-octane tempo.
Will the CBA predicament help or hurt college sports popularity? Collegiate athletes will be more likely to entertain the thought of staying in school to finish up their degrees, instead of opting out a year after one year in school.
NFL teams and college football programs already have pipelines where coaches and owners are constantly evaluating the prospects at the high school level. College players entering this year’s upcoming draft may be labeled scapegoats if they go up to the podium to take a picture with Commissioner Goodell.
The NBA has tried developing its own system, causing Commissioner David Stern to come under heavy fire for not caring about the well-being of the kids who leave school early.
Both the NFL and NBA are entertainment industries, thriving on the success of merchandise apparel, shoe contracts and sports drink commercials.
Without both these sports next year, where will the kids who idolize these players look to for inspiration?
As Harvey Dent infamously spoke in the box office classic, “The Dark Knight,” “the night is darkest just before the dawn.”
In the meantime as fans, we should continue to enjoy pro basketball playoff battles and football players’ antics away from their usual sport.