At a time when the NFL and the players have said that they care about the fans when in reality they don’t (more accurately, they don’t care enough about the fans to set aside greed and work out the labor dispute), Judge Susan Nelson has acknowledged the impact of the work stoppage on the fans in ending it.
The factors for granting a “preliminary injunction” blocking the lockout include the presence of irreparable harm on the part of the players, a likelihood of success at trial on the legal and factual issues presented by the case, a balancing of the hardships between the players and the owners, and the public interest.
As to the last factor, Judge Nelson recognized that the public needs its football.
“[T]he public ramifications of this dispute exceed the abstract principles of the antitrust laws, as professional football involves many layers of tangible economic impact, ranging from broadcast revenues down to concessions sales,” Judge Nelson writes at page 87 of her 89-page written ruling. “And, of course, the public interest represented by the fans of professional football — who have a strong investment in the 2011 season — is an intangible interest that weighs against the lockout. In short, this particular employment dispute is far from a purely private argument over compensation.”
That’s possibly the most accurate paragraph written by anyone in any capacity regarding this mess — especially since someone finally doing something to advance interests of the fans.