Friday, April 22, 2011

2011 NFL Schedule Posted; But What Good Is It With No CBA?

The new schedule for the NFL was released to the public recently amidst a crisis period in the league.

What is most intriguing and ironic with the schedule coming out is the fact that no one has a clue as to when the league will actually start. With the league on a temporary freeze as they figure out a new collective bargaining agreement, no teams are allowed to make transactions with other players and franchises or even talk to those currently on their roster. Essentially, the NFL Draft is the only active event going on in football until both sides can come to an agreement.

So with all the silence and standstill of activity, why would posting an NFL schedule have value at this point in the year?

The lockout leaves the league and its followers in the dark as to when an agreement will be reached and football activities will commence. With a schedule now set and a opening game posted for early September, the league may have dug themselves in a deeper hole. If both sides don’t attain an agreement in June, July, or even August; what kind of football will we see if players report in late?

Working out with coaches, specialists, and teams is one way football players can practice and maintain their skill. The problem is that all football players are incredible specimens that have talents most regular people can only replicate in their dreams. Having a less than five second time in a 40-yard dash, throwing a perfect spiral fifty yards downfield to a player running a fly pattern, reading an offense and beating them for an interception, or hitting them so hard that they fumble are not typical human abilities.

Athletes in other sports have talents that are superior to regular people just as the NFL players do, but they have an easier time at keeping themselves in game shape. A hitter can have a pitching machine throw as hard as they want or pitchers can throw virtually anywhere. A basketball player can work on a variety of dribbling, rebounding, passing drills or have someone stand in front of them with a broom up when they shoot.

To put it in other words: simulating real-time football is extremely difficult in comparison to simulating real-time basketball or baseball.

There is no way to manipulate the speed, intensity and magnitude of a football game because of the huge requirement of all 22 players on the field. Being that it is the ultimate team sport, if the lockout extends to the end of summer and the league stands pat on keeping the schedule as it is, expect a very ugly first month or two of football. Training camp and OTAs happen specifically to prepare for the pounding of the football season. Losing or cutting that time for the players will cause a big drop-off in how the year will look early on.

Another issue will be if the lockout marches deeper into the year.

If you are a fan and supporter of the NFL, you may find their most hyped matchups of the year going on early in the season, but will any of those games go on if the lockout rolls through September and October? While the league is keeping an open window of time in case a resolution isn’t reached, there is still a great possibility that those contests will end up being lost and inaccurately advertised.

Refer back to the 1982 NFL season to vision what a shortened season due to a lockout would look like. During that year, a strike began in mid-September and lasted nearly two months with no games being played. When a resolution was reached, football finally kicked off but with only nine games played during the regular season and the playoffs and Super Bowl commencing around the same time as it usually does.

If the current NFL lockout extends to the point that games are lost, don’t expect to see them returning at a later date.

Aside from the problems that come up with a schedule going public and no CBA in place, there can be only one logical reason as to why the NFL would do this: promotion..

The lockout has been on display for the public to witness and players jumping onto various social networks to explain their feelings on the stoppage. The owners and the league have been no where to be seen during this period and very little understanding where they stand on the situation, which has, in turn, given the appearance that they should be garnering more of the blame than the players.

Publishing the schedule helps to give assurance that they will do all they can to make sure that a season will be going as planned. This gives visibility that the league will work alongside the players to make sure that a fair conclusion is reached. Essentially, while all the players are going through the media and internet to voice their hopes and fears, producing a schedule is the league’s own way of voicing their belief to the fans that this conflict is only a minor bump in the road and that the season will go on as designed.

The only of excitement that can be generated with the 2011 schedule is that there is a glimmer of hope that a resolution is not far down the road for the NFL. The public is tired of hearing the accusations shot back and forth between players and owners, and would love nothing more than to know that they can finally get ready for a new football season.

Yet, optimism will only wane as time moves forward; and if the schedule dictates that the first game will start on September 8th, 2011, then the league better find a conclusion to keep their word.

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