NFL to refund fans for canceled games

According to USA Today, the NFL has announced refunds for all general admission seats to preseason and regular season games canceled by a potential lockout in 2011. The refunds would kick in thirty days following an announcement by the league as to how many games would be canceled and how many played in 2011.

This is certainly a nice gesture by the NFL but likely to be met with an indifferent response from fans that would be affected by this. Certainly, fans are not expecting to pay for games that are not played due to an ongoing battle between the NFL and the NFLPA over who gets how much of the $8.5 billion of revenues that the sport produces.

The NFL has required payments from broadcast networks to continue paying even in the event of a work stoppage in 2011 (albeit with credits/offsets later in the deal), giving itself what the NFLPA refers to as "lockout insurance". The money provide the NFL leverage in its negotiations, steeling themselves against the season going dark with a lucrative war chest.

Asking that of the networks, especially DirecTV, whose business depends on the NFL, is one thing. To ask that of fans is another. The NFL and its teams were not going to put fans in the same position as the networks, paying for games that will not be played. It sounds obvious, but the league wanted to make a point of it.

Today's news is the latest in the ongoing public relations battle between the NFL and the NFLPA for the hearts and minds of the fans (and the media) in spinning this labor dispute that has not produced meaningful results to this point.

Today started a multi-part primer on the background and important issues regarding these labor negotiations. Check it out!

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