Don't forget the tip

While National Football League owners and players square off over how to divvy up the $9 billion the nation's most popular sport generates every year, thousands of hard-working Americans are wondering about the hit to their own much smaller bank accounts should the 2010 NFL season not happen.

The billionaire owners and millionaire players are due in court next week to argue the legality of the owners locking out the players.

The underlying dispute, briefly, is that the owners want a bigger share of the revenue than they're getting under the current agreement and the players want to keep what they get now. The owners want to add two games to the 16-game season, while the players say they are putting their bodies on the line for enough weeks as it is.

Meanwhile, more money is at stake across the country.

We're not talking billions. We're not even talking the millions generated every week in the cities where NFL teams play. Heck, we're talking Oregon — a state without a single NFL team.

Oregon may not have a team, but we have plenty of football fans who do. And we have sports bars. And pizza restaurants that deliver pepperoni and hot wings on Monday nights. And electronics retailers that sell big-screen TVs in January.

Those businesses have owners who depend on football to fill bar stools on Sundays and boost TV sales in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. And those owners have employees who pour beer and serve food and sell electronics to sports fans.

It's not easy to quantify the economic impact of all that business in a town like Medford. Even in the NFL franchise cities, estimates vary.

The Kansas City Chiefs say every home game means $15 million to the local economy. The overall figure most frequently cited is $160 million over the season for each of the 32 team cities — although that number includes player salaries.

Economists argue that dire predictions of economic gloom are overblown, especially in NFL cities. Americans who can't buy game tickets if the season is canceled will simply spend those entertainment dollars on something else.

That's true, but it's not much comfort to bar and restaurant owners outside NFL host cities. Who's going to go to a sports bar on Sunday if there's no football?

If no one goes, those businesses likely will be dark. If they do manage to keep the doors open, they won't need as many servers and bartenders. Those who do get shifts won't make the same tips. All that means a blow to small businesses and small-business employees — those who can least afford it.

While the owners and the players scrimmage over their share of the billions, it would be nice if they'd remember it's not all about them.

Share This Story