Friday, July 1, 2011

Does NFL labor dispute really bring an “end of the world, as we know it?”

Personally, the idea of the National Football League not being able to play their 2011 season on account of a labor dispute doesn’t bother me. I never have cared much for the game of football, and my life’s routine does not involve being parked in front of the television every autumn Sunday (along with occasional Mondays).

But I do realize that there are many people who do have that routine as part of their lives, and that the lack of professional football will have an impact.
Could the only "football" played at Soldier Field this year involve the July 23 match between the Chicago Fire and Manchester United?

SO I CAN appreciate the sensibility that went into a Chicago Sun-Times report on Thursday about how the Chicago economy would be devastated (“wallop” was the word the newspaper used in its headline) without the Chicago Bears taking the turf every week.

Bourbonnais, Ill., the town that hosts the Bears’ summer training camp, claims it will lose about $1 million that football fans would have spent in their town when they come to see their sporting idols.

Then, there are all those people who actually work in the stadiums to maintain them and serve food and other items to the people who actually attend games. They sent a letter to the NFL officials and players, urging them to resolve their labor dispute no matter what it takes.

If there are no games, then there’s no need to spend money on the overpriced stadium food. If the fans aren’t dumping their trash all over the stands, then there’s no need for the stadium workers to clean up the mess.

AND THERE CERTAINLY wouldn’t be any need to have people working the souvenir stands selling programs and t-shirts and other items with the official NFL team logos on them.

If anything, that is where the money is to be made. The actual running of a sports franchise only becomes profitable when an owner finds someone new to sell the team to.

All of these people have an interest in the NFL carrying on with their season because it impacts their own bottom line, and I’m not looking to have anyone out of work for any reason.

But I just can’t get into the idea that we face economic devastation if the Bears don’t play out their schedule. It is only eight Sundays/Mondays per year.

THE SUN-TIMES REPORTED that Connie’s Pizza officials were among those signing the letter telling the football players to “get that deal done.” I doubt Connie’s Pizza is going to go bankrupt by not selling their brand at Soldier Field for Bears’ home games.

With their restaurants and their frozen pizza brand selling in grocery stores, the fact that they do stadium concessions is just a sideline. A part-time job, so to speak. It might well be the equivalent of free advertising for their brand name. Every time they have a slice of Connie’s at Soldier Field, they remember the name and become inclined to want to eat it elsewhere (unless they get a particularly bad slice – in which case, it could do more harm).

But aside from that factor, the other thing that gets to me is the fact that people will still be spending money even if there isn’t any football. Life does go on.

It’s not like the time period during which the games take place suddenly disappears.

PEOPLE STILL HAVE to eat. They will spend money on the meals they would consume instead of eating stadium concessions. So someone is going to get an economic boost financially.

There also is the fact that time will still have to be filled. If it means that some people will have to get off their duffs and break away from the television because there’s no game on, maybe it means they will use the time to take care of other items of business in their lives.

Maybe they’ll go shopping, thereby spending money and bolstering someone else’s business.

While I don’t doubt that there are some business interests that will lose out if there are no professional football games, there also could be other business interests that benefit. What my line of logic comes down to is that if the NFL’s lack of play creates a gap, something else will fill it.

SO WILL THE Chicago economy be “wallop”ed without the Bears? Somehow, I think we’ll cope business-wise.

I even think those people who just cannot get enough of the game of football will get their fix on Saturdays from the NCAA version of the game.

Those of you who want to be frustrated by the Bears’ play will simply have to settle for tearing your hair out over the Fighting Illini (whose orange and blue colors were the inspiration for the blue and orange worn by the “Monsters of the Midway”).

Which might be a good thing. Because after all the mediocre-to-bad baseball Chicago sports fans are likely to endure this summer, we probably need a break come September and October.


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