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Bill Radke: Many a pro football fan has this wish for the New Year: an agreement between NFL team owners and the players' union. Marketplace's Nancy Farghalli reports on what could be a countdown to a work stoppage.
Nancy Farghalli: NFL owners and the players union have until March of this year to come up with a new labor agreement. If they don't, the current salary cap will expire next season. That means teams won't have to follow rules about what to pay players. Salaries could skyrocket for some players -- especially free agents -- and fall for others.
Smith College Sports Economist Andrew Zimbalist says the fans will still get their football. But off the field:
Andrew Zimbalist: What we will see is escalating rhetoric about the potential for a work stoppage for the following year. And maybe that will effect fans enjoyment, because this wonderful product that I've enjoyed so much over the years might disappear next year.
So 2011 could be a year without football because of a lockout. Allan Sanderson of the University of Chicago says that could be a blow to the country's most successful sports league. The NFL is an $8 billion a year business, and that means there's a lot at stake for both owners and players.
Allan Sanderson: I mean this as affectionately as possible. You've got two pigs in one trough--the owners and the league on one hand and the players and the union on the other. There's nothing in economic theory that suggests owners should get more or players should get more.
Players right now get 60 percent of the league's revenue. But that's a sticking point. Sanderson says it's an issue of which side blinks first. And that could determine whether this familiar tune:
Gets played at all in 2011.
I'm Nancy Farghalli for Marketplace.