Declare your independence sports fans

As we head into the long Independence Day weekend, thoughts of backyard BBQs, the beach and fireworks certainly come to mind.  We sports fans usually look forward to the half-way point of the MLB season, the opening of NFL training camps around the corner and the beginning of NBA free agency.

Ah, but 2011 is a different year in professional sports.  My at the day job might even deem this a “Black Swan” event of sorts.  Consider the following:

  • The NFL is still in the midst of a lockout that is now nearly four months long, with no immediate end in sight.  True, “pen pals” Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith have been apparently having productive talks as of late, but the “Millionaires vs. Billionaires” dispute rages on.
  • The NBA is on the verge of having their own lockout, as the owners and players are nowhere near an agreement as their CBA is set to expire on Thursday night.  And this one could be even more contentious and long than the NFL’s.
  • The Los Angeles Dodgers, one of the most storied franchises in the history of professional sports, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and is on the verge of being taken over by MLB – thanks in large part to the impending divorce of owners Frank and Jamie McCourt.

And who loses in all this?  You, the fans.

What, you didn’t realize that fans don’t matter in 21st century professional sports?  Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.  When stories about teams and leagues are featured in the likes of CNBC and Bloomberg, it’s all but clear that pro sports is nothing more than big business in this country.

Don’t get me wrong, I love sports and always will.  But this is a different era now and we should view ourselves as consumers, not just fans.  If you get bad service at a retail store or a restaurant, aren’t you more apt to not spend your hard-earned dollars at said establishments?  Think of sports that way – is it worth wasting precious time and money watching a game in which the players and owners would rather not play?  Or buying merchandise of a team that would rather spend more money on lawyers than players or ballpark security?

So what’s a fan to do?  Don’t watch the games.  Don’t buy overpriced tickets or merchandise.  Play fantasy sports (yes, that one especially drives them nuts).  Declare your fan independence!

No, I’m not trying to start a “tea party” movement here.  I’m just showing you a proven truth in a capitalist system: that the consumer can speak volumes by controlling the one thing that everyone covets, your almighty dollar.

But don’t give up on sports altogether.  Try actually playing sports with your friends and family.  (And no, the Wii doesn’t count.)  Go watch a high school, college or minor league sporting event.  The prices are lower, the competition is fiercer and the athletes actually play for the love of the game.  What a concept!

Or do like I have and watch your kids play organized sports.  I’ve gotten more enjoyment out of watching my daughter’s all-star softball tournaments than I have watching any pro event.  And some of her games have been even more compelling and nerve-wracking than any World Series or Super Bowl game I’ve watched.

You’ve been forewarned.  Have a happy and safe 4th.

R.I.P. Jonathan Moncrief

As the great Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”  I had a reminder of this earlier this week when I read about the passing of Jonathan Moncrief at age 43 last month.  I was first introduced to Jon when we both covered the Los Angeles Dodgers for Examiner.com last season.  He also covered the Los Angeles Kings for Examiner and co-hosted the great Inside Sports internet and radio show with Charles Smith.  Jon was kind enough to have me on the show twice last year, and I will always be eternally grateful for the opportunity and exposure.  He was also a fellow Jersey native/Springsteen fan and a great guy, and he will be missed.  My condolences go out to his family and Charles.

Used with permission of the author.

Chris Lardieri runs the “West Coast View” column for Sports Climax. A veteran to the keyboard, Chris covered the Los Angeles Dodgers for Examiner.com and has written about Major League Baseball for Inside Edge, a scouting company that provides content to ESPN Insider and Yahoo Sports. Follow Chris on Twitter for more sports observations.

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