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What Kind Of Long-Term Damage Is The NFL Lockout Doing?

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Are we losing interest in the NFL? Should we be losing interest in the NFL?

That's the topic of discussion in the latest blog post at by new 9:00-11:00 a.m. host Danny Parkins. He rips into the owners and players writing that the "NFL doesn't deserve our discussion" right now because of the current labor impasse.

[Editor's note: For the record, as someone who makes a living from the existence of football, I strongly disagree with his conclusion.]

So...Are we losing interest in football? Is the NFL doing permanent damage to the league?

In the short-term, the answer is, undoubtedly, yes. I can quantify our readers' interest via our traffic numbers to the site and those are down by a healthy margin relative to last year. The reason, I would guess, is the lack of free agency and the emergence of court room football. It's simple, really. Fans love rumors and free agency is built on rumors. Fans can't like what they don't know and understanding the labor situations require a level of effort that, frankly, most fans aren't willing to give.

In the long-term, I'm not sure what the answer is. On the one hand, the NFL, as Parkins points out, is a "license to print money." The overall popularity of the league is at astronomical levels -- one person predicts the TV rights fees doubles by the next round of negotiations -- and a summer-long lockout may not hurt the overall health of the league. On the other hand, look what a work stoppage did to baseball.

Clearly, I'm biased in all of this because I kind of need the NFL to make money so that I can buy the really upper scale $9 frozen pizzas. There is definitely some short-term damage going on. Parkins isn't alone in his view of the league.

I just wonder what the long-term damage is.

For those of you obsessive fans, will your interest in the league be as obsessive in 2011? And for those of you semi-interested fans, will you give up football altogether?