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NFL And NBA Both Headed Towards Lockouts In 2011

We've all known that a lockout in the NFL next season is almost guaranteed, but now it looks like the NBA is heading in the same direction. The combination may lead to some very boring Sundays and weeknights for fans of both sports next fall.

You've finished your morning workout, tackled all your chores, and have the rest of a fall fine Sunday to do whatever you please.

Now, you collapse on the couch for an afternoon of NFL bliss. You flip on CBS at one o'clock, but you see something strange. It's a re-run of that sitcom you really can't stand. That's weird. But no matter, because you'll flip on over to FOX to see that game. Yet again, you're met with a re-run of Seinfeld instead of a football game.

Again, strange. Well, at the very least, you can turn on ESPN and catch its presentation of the NBA on Sunday afternoon. But yet again, you're met with not LeBron James and Kobe Bryant squaring off, but bowling.

What the heck is going on? No NFL and no NBA games? Unfortunately, that's a reality we could all face next fall.

We've all known that a lockout in the NFL in 2011 was a probability, but now, it seems as if the NBA is headed in the same direction. NBPA executive director Billy Hunter said that he is almost certain a lockout is coming this next summer, via ESPN.com.

NBA players' association executive director Billy Hunter said Monday he is "99 percent sure" there will be a lockout next summer.

"I think it's highly probable that there will be a lockout and that's what I'm preparing for because I don't see anything else right now," Hunter said.

Hunter and NBA commissioner David Stern have both agreed that there has been no progress in the negotiations between the owners and the player's association for a new collective bargaining agreement. The current agreement expires immediately after this season, and the two sides have been trying to work out a deal for over a year.

NBA owners have been calling for a reduction in player salaries, contract length, guarantees and raises, and are in favor of a rookie salary scale. As you might expect, the NBA player's association is not on the same page.

According to the ESPN.com report, NBA owners are looking for an overall salary reduction of between $700 and $800 million and a hard salary cap that would not allow for exceptions.

Here's the response of the player's association and New York Knicks guard Roger Mason, Jr., who is a player representative.

The players counter that the current system has worked, pointing to record revenues and ticket sales, and strong TV ratings. They say the total of negotiated salaries has dropped for three straight seasons and forecast a 3 to 5 percent increase in revenues in 2010-11.

"It seems like things are doing all right and so our position is that we want to do what's best for the game," said New York Knicks guard Roger Mason Jr., a member of the players' executive committee. "Any way that we can make the game better as players, speaking for a lot of the guys, we're all for it. But we don't want to have a deal that's just not fair and that's what we think is being presented to us right now."

Clearly, a solution that pleases everyone is nowhere to be found and probably won't be for quite some time.

In the NFL, the pending lockout has been brewing for several years, with speculation gearing up this season. Like the NBA, the NFL's collective bargaining agreement expires at the end of this season.

So what does that mean for all of us, the fans?

Well, in the short term, it means that we may be left with a lot of free time on Sundays and on weeknights in the fall and winter. I don't know about you, but I would be lost without the NFL on Sundays and the NBA on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

However, the NFL and NBA lockouts aren't bad for everyone. The absence of the nation's largest and third largest sports could do wonders for other sports, such as Major League Baseball and, yes, even the National Hockey League.

That's where MLB commissioner Bud Selig and NHL commish Gary Bettman come in.

Without their weekly NFL games and nightly NBA rituals, fans will most likely seek an alternative sport to watch. Selig and Bettman will need to gather their marketing teams and come up with a strategy to reel in the stray viewers that they normally wouldn't have the opportunity to grab.

For Selig, it may mean expanding the playoff field to 10 teams instead of eight, thus extending the season. It's a tougher task for baseball, which is in the very final state of its season around the time the NFL is heating up in October and early November.

As for Bettman, he has the best opportunity to increase the NHL's presence in the American market, as the NHL and NBA season essentially go hand in hand. But as the past has proven, Bettman has failed to capitalize on such opportunities and increase the NHL's popularity.

Then, of course, there are college sports, specifically college football and basketball. Both are already wildly popular around the country, and would only see increased ratings with the professional versions of each sport on the back burner. This may be where the NFL and NBA fans turn to first, as they cater directly to those specific fans, meaning that the NCAA would have the least amount of marketing to do to grab these extra followers.

A wild card in the ratings race may be, believe it or not, Major League Soccer. Despite being the world's number one sport by a mile (kilometer?), soccer has struggled to take root in the homes of American sports fans. But with the NFL and NBA temporarily out of the way, MLS has a significant chance to make a major step forward. It won't be easy, as once again, soccer has been an afterthought for years in American sports (minus the World Cup, which is a completely different animal in itself). 

All things considered, none of the aforementioned commissioners have anything guaranteed to them. After all, the NFL and NBA may very well agree on new CBA's in the nick of time to save the 2011 season.

But if they don't, then you better believe the other sports will be chomping at the bit to gain popularity.