We’ve been trying hard to strike a fair balance in the labor dispute, urging both sides to be fair and criticizing statements, positions, and tactics that need to be criticized. As a result, some folks who get upset when we criticize one side overlook that we’ve also criticized the other side, and vice-versa. Thus, we’ve been accused of being shills for the NFL, and we’ve been accused of being in the tank for the players.
Frankly, we don’t care how they figure out the proper procedures for cutting up a pie that soon will exceed $10 billion per year in revenue. There’s enough money to go around, and the challenge at this point seems to be striking the right long-term balance. Regardless of the percentage points on which the parties agree, no one on either side of the table will be going broke.
That said, we think it’s fair and appropriate at this point to disclose our stake in the situation. Because our overall interests are driven by site traffic (Charlie Sheen says, “duh”), we want our traffic to be higher. Right now, our traffic is lower than it would be if a lockout hadn’t happened.
So, yes, it’s in our interests for the lockout to end. Preferably, it’ll happen through a negotiated compromise that allows everyone to move forward cooperatively and successfully, before significant long-term damage is done to the game — which in turn would diminish fan interest in the sport and thus impact our long-term traffic projections. If a deal can’t be reached by April 6, it’s in our interests for the players to prevail on their motion for preliminary injunction, since that would end the lockout, launch free agency (the biggest traffic week of the year for us), and allow football to continue while the Brady case plays out in a Minnesota court.
We believe that our interests mesh completely with the fans’ interests. The fans want this to end, before the game they love suffers harm that could take years to heal. Though the league and the players can pretend to care about the fans, they only care about their own interests. Anything they do that also benefits the fans’ interests is coincidental.
Thus, we acknowledge our bias in this regard — we want the lockout to end, quickly. Since we’d feel the same way if we were merely fans and not financially invested in the process, it won’t be affecting our opinions or our coverage in any way.
Meanwhile, we fully expect the NFL to disagree with some of the things we say about the situation, and we fully expect the players to disagree with some of the things we say. It only means that we’re maintaining objectivity as it relates to the two sides, and that we’re pursuing aggressively the overlap between our interests and the fans’ interests — getting this nonsense resolved as soon as possible so that we can all get back to enjoying the NFL offseason.
UPDATE: As at least one reader has pointed out, NBC is one of the networks that agreed to pay the NFL during a lockout. That same reader inaccurately claims that NBC owns PFT. NBC doesn’t own PFT. Our content is exclusively licensed to NBC, and PFT retains full editorial control over that content. So we have the ability to say whatever we want on any topic that we desire. For example, The Office isn’t nearly as funny and clever as it used to be.