There has been some worry about the NFL and the players alienating the NFL fan base with the legal wrangling over the NFL lockout and what the future of the league will look like. I think this fear is overstated, and the reason is rather simple. There is no other sport that can take over for the NFL, and the belief that there will still be football next season.
With regards to other sport, none can gain anywhere near the popularity of the NFL. Baseball would likely gain in the ratings, but it would take a miracle to compare to the NFL. the most likely is that college football ratings would rise, but it is hampered by the fact that often the greatest teams are not near the biggest markets. New York City has no successful team nearby. Boston is not particularly connected in loyalty to BC. Washington D.C. has no particularly successful and popular team nearby. Neither does Chicago, nor does Indianapolis. In other states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, there are successful teams, but they are not near major cities and the increased draw would not be great from them. Simply put, the teams in college football and their success is not spread out enough. Besides, college football would probably be more of a tease, a ‘different football’ until the NFL returns.
More importantly, I for one still don’t believe that the 2011 season could be cancelled. No one could be that stupid, and the legal proceedings over the lockout will either way likely bring about a 2011 season. If the lockout is lifted, there will be a season (with what rules, who knows). If it isn’t lifted, then there’s a chance of no season, but the players would lose their leverage, and an agreement would be more likely. Regardless, most fans likely do not care about the details, only that football comes back, and that it remains competitive.
If a season is delayed or cancelled, however, then there could be more serious ramifications. It’s not really fair to compare to the NHL lockout, since the NHL was never as popular as the NFL, but the results of the NHL lockout and the MLB strike are unmistakable. Both sports took serious blows, both financially and how they’re viewed by Americans. One reason the NFL has been so successful the past decade is because of how stable and reliable it has been. If that stability gets rocked, alienation will happen, and then the NFL will have a serious problem.
PS- Yes, this is a filler article. I cannot for the life of me wait until there is a free agency to talk about.