Every couple years fans are put through the ringer with labor negotiations and each time it seems like it's a new experience.
With an NFL deal on the horizon, after more than four months of a lockout, here are some lessons to save for the NBA labor negotiations or the next one you have to deal with.
1. A deal isn't done until a deal HAS to be done.
We were tricked yet again into thinking the deadline was when the Collective Bargaining Agreement expired. And although there was an extension of the talks in the NFL's case, nothing was going to happen of substance. Why? Because labor deals don't go down until there's really something to lose. That point comes now as failure to do a deal by next Friday likely means losing a week of the very valuable preseason.
2. Fans don't care about who won or lost.
Although the media, including people like me, are seemingly obsessed with the whole "Who Do You Fault?" polls, it doesn't matter. Fans just want to see a deal done in the end and they're not going to think any worse of Roger Goodell or DeMaurice Smith as long as games aren't missed and nothing stupid has been said. The truth is, no matter what happens, the negotiations have helped raise the visibility of a guy like Smith, who very well may take what he has built and move on to another arena.
3. The fans only count if the parties think they'll leave.
No matter what was said on either side in these NFL negotiations, the owners and the players never cared about the fans much. Why? Because there was no question that the NFL was so powerful that fans would come back anyway. That won't be the case with the NBA negotiations.
The owners and players are going to have to constantly gauge the temperature of the fans to figure out how long of a stoppage they can endure without losing momentum that would even compromise a good deal for either side.
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