We're hurtling towards inevitable cataclysm as NFL fans. In all likelihood, the NFL will lock its players out when the new league year begins in early March. After the NFL draft, all news coverage regarding the sport will be labor unions and negotiations until things get resolved or the regular season starts getting gobbled up as the two sides continue to clash.
Some people would have you believe that the right thing to do is to join a group and sign petitions about how we won't take it anymore. I'm not one of those people. I don't have anything wrong with you if you are, unless of course you spam me with e-mails about your particular group. It just all feels like a way of misappropriating passion--of focusing effort on the negative rather than the positive.
Being a passionate fan comes with a lot more negative than positive. I don't think that's an outrageous position in this day and age. Fans have watched ticket prices rise. Fans have watched the true meaning of a championship team get diluted with an overabundance of playoff games and teams. Fans have been gouged for food and parking, beverages and officially licensed team gear. Fans get ridiculed by people who don't understand their choice of team or the choices one takes to be a sports fan in the first place. Fans get up early to go to games, travel long distances, and otherwise allow their teams to infiltrate their lives. Fans do this all because they believe in the product one day leading to a championship, which will let them celebrate and validate spending all this time and money on a team. And asides from a few franchises, they rarely reach these moments more than once in a lifetime.
So I understand the trepidation that comes with them taking away the reason that you do all of this every Sunday. I understand why this elicits the kind of anger and rage that leads to petitions, protests, and what-have-you. Lets look at the facts here though: nothing is going to stop the NFL's cash flow at this point. Additionally, neither the players or owners champion the fans' interests. We all knew that, and we all also knew that we'd be pandered to by both of them. Neither side cares about the fans unless they can find good p.r. out of it.
The government and sports leagues don't have much of a history together, which is why leagues are able to act as cartels. That probably won't change any time soon. If you want to make something positive out of this, your task is to make sure that future strikes can be prevented by the fans. While the federal government will likely never intervene unless things go seriously awry, fans can still have their voices heard at the local level. When it comes time to vote for that latest stadium initiative? Don't. At least until a lockout clause is inserted that forces the team to pay money to the city in the event of a work stoppage. If teams want to continue to have their places of business publicly financed, then they can start paying us when they don't use them.
If you thought that was an idealistic point of view, just wait till you get a load of this next one: deprive the NFL of your attention. You want them to suffer when they wrong you, but giving them attention for it just brings them more fame. You can't truly be anti-anything without drawing attention to the original cause of the problem. The NFL is going to thrive on your attention just as they ignore your pleas, petitions, and written statements.
Some of us don't have this next option, as we have to write for a living about this stuff. Not that I'm complaining in the slightest. But if you really want to hurt the NFL, just don't think about them. Don't tweet about how frustrated they make you. Don't give them your mind's air time. Care about the Astros. The Rockets. The Dynamo. The Cougars. The Longhorns. There are other sports and other teams. Care about video games if you have to. Or movies. Books. There are so many things out there to do that have nothing to do with the NFL, each of which lead you to a path that damages the NFL more than trying to stage a boycott over buying team jerseys or something along those lines.
Plus, this way has got Paul Anka's guarantee.