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Lockout brief: the end of one and the start of another

By Gordy Stillman

Section: Sports

September 2, 2011

When summer started, one of the four major sports leagues was two months into a lockout. Now, at the start of the academic year, one lockout has ended while a new one enters its third month. As the NFL season that almost didn’t happen starts it’s interesting to look at the effects of the lockout and also at the NBA lockout that will probably cancel the coming season.

The NFL lockout’s only casualty was the annual Hall of Fame game. Two result of the work stoppage were a shortened period of time for teams to acquire Free Agents (players not under contract) and the lost opportunity for newly drafted players to practice in team-organized practices. In some cases, such as with Bryant McKinnie, formerly of the Minnesota Vikings, a lack of team-organized workouts resulted in players being unfit to play. McKinnie, for example, was cut from his team when he arrived at training camp weighing nearly 400 pounds. It’ll be interesting to see if any of the first-round quarterbacks, especially No. 1 overall pick Cam Newton, are ready to play after only a short opportunity to learn the necessary plays.

While the NFL lockout has come to a close, its become clear that the impasse was nothing compared to the disagreement between the NBA and NBA players; and unlike NFL players, NBA players can find work in leagues around the world. Aside from this extra bargaining chip in the pocket of NBA players, some of which have contracts for European leagues should the NBA season be canceled. Additionally, the divide between players and owners appears to be greater than in the NFL situation.

The NBA is claiming that more than 20 of the 30 teams have been losing money and want to implement a hard salary cap on teams. Players obviously don’t want to give up the lucrative contracts they have signed. On the other side is the owners, including some relatively new ones who paid high prices for their teams and want to start turning a profit. Seven owners have taken over teams since the start of the last Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Another snag in the NBA lockout is that it can have potential effects on Olympic national teams next year. Previously, the NBA covered most of the insurance on players’ contracts while they played on national teams. Without this insurance during the lockout, it could cost national teams millions of dollars to ensure the presence of NBA players.

While the lockouts are regrettable, they certainly help make 2011 a unique year for sports fans.

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