Whom to Blame?

Posted on May 24, 2006 by


Believe it or not, training camp for most NFL teams starts in a couple of months.  Which reminded me of a poll on ESPN from early March – I know if you’re randomly thinking about ESPN polls from days gone by you my friend need a life! 

The on-line poll was conducted on March 7th during the period where the NFL and the Union negotiation for a new collective bargaining agreement had broken off.  At that point there was every indication that the two sides would be unable to reach an agreement.  The trauma that this would cause was well reported.  While we have argued that there is NO evidence of labor-management strife’s impact on professional sport leagues, the poll revealed an insight into how fans view labor issues.

Question (5) of the poll asked the following question:  “Who do you think is most to blame for the current labor impasse?”  The two choices were: a) Gene Upshaw and the players' union and b) Paul Tagliabue and NFL owners.  There were over 26,000 respondents.  While this most certainly is a self-selected group it does represent quite a large sample. 

Of these, nearly two-thirds chose the players’ union.  My question is why?

While one might have liked to see a third option of choosing both, given how the poll was structured I would have guessed an outcome much closer to 50-50.  So why do fans blame the players? 

One might argue that fans associate the ‘greed’ of players’ as causing the exponential rise in ticket prices.  As economists we know that this is not the cause.  The cause of higher ticket prices is the increased demand we all have for sports.

So essentially, the poll suggests that fans would rather have their hard earned money go to the Jerry Jones’ rather than the Shaun Alexanders’ of the world. 

Again why?