Green Bay Packers fans partly to blame for NFL lockout, too

Jul. 30, 2011

Itís difficult to decide who got most of the blame for the drawn-out negotiations that resulted in a new collective bargaining agreement between the NFL owners and players.

Fans waited on the sidelines to find out when and if they would get their precious football games. They threw their collective frustration at what was described by many as overpaid and spoiled athletes as well as wealthy owners who didnít want their net worth to slip below nine figures.

Those were obvious targets.

But thereís a third party that should accept some of the responsibility.


Thatís right. Fans of pro football, and to some degree here more than anywhere else, have been the great enablers of the financial explosion of the sport. Thus, fans should be awarded an assist for creating the money wars that dominated the spring and summer.

We buy the tickets, wear the clothes and preach the gospel according to Vince.

Granted, the alternative was not a pleasant one for fans around here. Either support pro football as the Green Bay Packers offer it or make a lifestyle change.

Packers football and Green Bayís worldwide visibility are attached at the hip. But the franchise never would have been the major player that it has become in the league, and in pro sports overall, if it hadnít been for the vote of confidence that has been extended by its fan base over the years.

We voted to increase our sales tax to bring Lambeau Field up to levels it needed to stand side-by-side with the sports mansions being built in other league cities.

When there are 88,000 names on a waiting list for a stadium that holds 16,000 fewer than that, itís a sellerís market and always will be. Throw into that mix the fact that the local team is a winner ó champions, in fact ó so ticket-buying fans have little leverage when it comes to discussions about cost.

We not only have top-flight entertainment and the envy of so many other pro football fans, but we live in a community whose team has won more titles than any other and doesnít appear to be anywhere near a downslide.

Fans certainly can gloat right now, but grumbling about the amount of money that the players receive or the franchise makes is naÔve.

Should Aaron Rodgers accept less than the market value? Would anyone expect him to play for our wages?

No, the reality of professional sports is that the privileged get to call the shots and make the dough as long as there are people who are willing to pay. And weíre willing.
Thereís no reason to resent it or try to change it. We might as well accept it or find something else to talk about on Mondays in the fall.

The federal debt? Blech!

When the Packers run on to the field on Sept. 8 as Super Bowl champions there wonít be any fans who will turn their backs to protest the labor agreement that made the rich richer.

Everything will return to normal ó spectators and performers.

And no lawyers.

Tony Walter is a columnist for the Press-Gazette. He can be reached at and follow him on Twitter @tonywalter.

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports