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Overlooked aspects of the lockouts

Suppose you open up a restaurant near a professional sports stadium.  Supply your patrons with cheap beer, burgers and fries, and several large televisions to show the game and the idea is so solid not even Frank McCourt could ruin it.  Sure, if it isn't a baseball team then the summer months are slow.  But these sports bars thrive during the season and can afford a few down days.

But what happens when the sports aren't there for a prolonged period of time, say, during a lockout?  All of a sudden, each dime must get stretched a little further.  The bars probably aren't in any imminent danger right now, but if it is midway through October and there is still no NFL, or mid December and not NBA, the perspiration on the neck grows a little heavier.  Aside from their proximity to the game, cheap food and sport-crazed atmospheres, what else do these establishments offer?

Sure, one might point out that it is simply supply and demand.  What they offer, especially in the absence of sports, is not in high demand.  People will say, "maybe they should serve better food," or "this should be more family-friendly."  But I don't go to sports bars for good food.  And I'm not looking for an Olive Garden type of family experience where everyone is laughing and sharing food.  I go to sports bars to watch the game with fellow fans, drink cheap beer and eat fatty, greasy food.  You don't mix crystal stemware with plastic cups, pretty simple.

When LeBron left Cleveland, an economist conducted a study that estimated the city would lose over $100 million because of the departure.  Many other studies were released with numbers even greater than this.  Regardless of the specifics, that was the effect of one player, albeit the most heavily marketed and known in the league, on one city.  It wasn't like basketball moved away from Cleveland; only LeBron moved.  Imagine what would happen to businesses on the whole, not just restaurants, if lockouts linger into the regular season.  Yes, the small markets will struggle, but so too will the big markets, especially those that rely on both an NFL and NBA team for income.

Based on how the lockouts are covered, the public sees it as just the players against the owners.  But many parties have a vested interest in the lockout, not just local businesses.  Team employees suffer the consequences of a lockout just as players do.  Ticket counters, security guards, concession stands, and all the way up to executives.  These parts of the organization are locked out as well.  These people wait for their paychecks just like the players.  The difference is that they probably are not sitting on millions of dollars already, and they actually need the money.

People's futures depend upon these franchises and these leagues, whether directly or indirectly.  And because sports is covered from a players/owners standpoint, these other parties' interests are seemingly ignored.  The next time we chastise the owners' greediness or the players' selfish behaviors, we have to remember that many more are affected by these lockouts than just those parties.  Sure, getting the games back on is important to the fans.  But saving the season may be more important to saving others' livelihoods.


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