3rd and long in NFL
The Morning Call
But as sure as another sack of Jay Cutler, you can bet there will be no NFL next September. Owners want an 18-game schedule and a bigger cut of the revenue. Also out there like an uncovered wide receiver is the idea of a rookie wage scale.
The players not only won't accept a pay cut, they'll want even more money if the league goes to 18 games. Their union has advised players to start saving money in case of a work stoppage, and the union Web site has a "Lockout Watch" clock that's ticking down.
It's already third-and-long for the NFL, and getting one side to budge will be harder than motivating Albert Haynesworth.
Rhetoric yes, delay no
The coming months will bring rhetoric aplenty from leagues and players, but I don't think any sport will have a delay or shutdown.
The NFL, however, is most likely. MLB doesn't want to return to labor strife but will struggle to broker a deal after leaked financial records show teams such as the Marlins and Pirates made a profit.
The NBA is on the brink of its most exciting season in years: star-studded rosters from Miami to Los Angeles and at least 20 teams selling more than 1,000 new season tickets. It can't afford to damage that momentum. NFL owners and their $8 billion industry can afford a stoppage. Record TV ratings this season mean football could return after a season off without skipping a beat.
Catfight in NBA!
Los Angeles Times
We can eliminate the NHL because their 2004-05 lockout season is still fresh enough to stop owners and players from trying that again.
Of the remaining leagues, it's an easy pick: The NBA is where the real labor catfight will take place.
Why? Check the balance sheets. The NFL is pro sports' equivalent of socialism: The TV money is so big and so evenly doled out that most franchises are healthy. Of the NFL's 32 teams, only two failed to make an operating profit in the past year (Lions and Dolphins), Forbes magazine reported.
Compare those rosy figures to the NBA, where 12 of the league's 30 teams had an operating loss, again, says Forbes.
So my bet is that David Stern's negotiators will fight long with the players association to get a sweeter deal to help the weaker teams in his league.
Ready for no football?
All the obvious signs are there that the NFL will be taking a hiatus in 2011.
Sports Business Journal reported the NFL is requiring banks that lend money to its teams to extend grace periods for loan defaults through the end of the 2011 season in case of a lockout.
Players are going through the process of decertification of their union, which indicates preparation for protracted negotiations. Decertification would provide players a right to sue the NFL under antitrust laws in the event of a lockout.
So, are you ready for some football-less Sundays?
Start making other plans for next winter. Maybe plan a vacation.