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Local fans lose in lockout

NFL, NBA conflicts may mean no season
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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Residents of Woodside Village Mobile Home Park in Auburn are transfixed by their clubhouse TV every Sunday during football season. At the pool they can be found chatting about the latest game-winning touchdown or making fantasy league bets. With lockouts in both the NBA and NFL, Woodside Village’s sports-centered culture is facing the prospect of a huge void. Both leagues may not have a season if new collective bargaining agreements are not reached between owners and players. Fans Facing the Giants It’s a void Carol Grambow, a San Francisco 49ers fan, doesn’t want to have to fill. She looks forward to bonding with her neighbors over their shared passion for professional athletics. “We meet down at the clubhouse every Sunday to watch football. We have a potluck. We even have a Super Bowl party here at the park,” Grambow said. “With the economy the way that it is a lot people can’t afford to go out and do things as much, so they watch sports more.” Grambow said she believes the negotiations in the NFL, including how profits are split between owners and players, and owners vying to increase the amount of games from 16 to 18, among others, have already gone on too long. “I think they could have solved it by now. I think they are not getting to the core of the issue,” Grambow said. “It’s been almost 100 days. It’s almost as bad the California budget.” Grambow said that without professional sports games to watch on TV many Americans, including herself, may have to try other activities. “We like to fish, so I might get into more fishing,” Grambow said. “Football is such a winter thing when it’s raining. It might promote other activities like reading.” Woodside Village resident Dan James won $100,000 playing fantasy football in ESPN’s Streak for the Cash. James said he is disappointed he may not get to play this year. “It’s going to affect our fantasy football. This is what I do,” James said. “I play these different sports games. I have a whole bunch of friends and we get together and play fantasy football.” James believes NFL owners already make too much of a profit at the expense of fans. “I think they all make too much money. You can ever hardly even go to a game,” James said. “I would say, ‘do whatever you can do to cut the cost of going to the games.’” The NBA lost the start of free agency on July 1. If its work stoppage extends as long as the NFL’s has, the start of the basketball season in October would be in jeopardy, according to the Associated Press. Sheryl Petersen, recreation services manger for the Auburn Recreation District, is a die-hard Golden State Warriors fan. She listens to Warriors basketball games on her commute. “I wouldn’t hear them on my radio on my way home,” Petersen said. “The Warriors are a team that is on their way out anyway. My focus right now is on the Giants. That ought to keep me busy until October. I hope this is settled by then.” A player’s take Ted Popson of Auburn, who played in the NFL during the late 90s for the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs, said watching football has never been a huge passion of his, but a lockout would have impacted him as a player. “I’ve always actually enjoyed going out and actually participating in something. I’m not much of a football watcher,” Popson said. “The obvious effect would be you are not working. You are not playing the game that you love to play. It has a huge effect on you financially. You are at a limbo.” According to the Associated Press, the NFL has already lost free agency, minicamps and some workouts because of the lockout. If the freeze continues, it could impact training camps, which are just a few weeks from opening. The New York Jets have already cancelled their training camp. If a deal is not reached by July 15, pre-season games are also in jeopardy. The first exhibition game at the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions is still scheduled for Aug. 7, according to the Associated Press. The federal magistrate judge who is mediating the labor dispute between NFL owners and players has scheduled another session for July 19 in Minneapolis. Judge Arthur J. Boylan set the meeting on Saturday, just before starting his vacation. But he also made clear that both sides should continue their own sessions in the interim as they work toward a new collective bargaining agreement. The principals in the fight over how to split up over $9 billion in revenue met all week in New York, but still have not reached a new deal as the lockout has dragged on for more than four months. Popson said that as a player he worked hard all year to stay in shape for the season, but teams also need time to play together in training prior to the start of the season. “It will affect timing between your quarterback and receivers and cohesion between your offensive line,” Popson said. “It’s going to be a long, drawn-out process. I know they have made a lot of strides in the right direction, but it’s going to take a lot of pushing and shoving. I think they will get it resolved and we will have a season this year.” Ultimately, Popson said he sides with the players, but understands both parties are in a tough position. Players demanding to see the league’s financial books is just as ridiculous as owners asking players to put their safety at risk to play two more games, according to Popson. “Football is a beautiful game, but unfortunately at that level it is also a business,” Popson said. “Which is more difficult the physical side of things or the business side of things? I would rather take a serious hit on the field than sit in some of those board rooms.” Impact of businesses: ‘Show me the money!’ Fans and players aren’t the only ones that will be disappointed by the loss of the NFL and NBA. Some local businesses also experience a revenue boost from showing televised sports games. At The Ridge Golf Course in Auburn, golfers often head to The Ridge Bar and Grill to catch a game on TV after a round of golf. The Ridge food and beverage director Patrick Doppelmayr said business would take a hit if the NFL and NBA don’t have seasons. “We are a sports bar kind of by default. The golfers will stay longer if the games are on and therefore buy more food or drink,” Doppelmayr said. “If the games aren’t going, a lot of the guys will pack up and go. It will have an adverse affect on our business and the bar.” Grambow and James realize that along with local businesses, they are facing big changes if professional football and basketball go on a hiatus this year. Grambow said the tone of conversations around Woodside Village will change and their Sunday tradition will also take a hiatus. “Instead of hearing people talk about the game winning touchdown or field goal it might be, ‘this is the new book I’m reading.’” Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com.