3.12.2011

Looming NFL lockout nothing new to American pro sports

The NFL Players Association decertified its status as a labor union. The collective bargaining agreement expires seven hours later.

The NFL labor dispute is nothing new to American sports. Every major American professional sport has suffered labor disputes in the past 25 years. Here's a look at other work stoppages in pro sports. Major League Baseball Strike, 1994-95

Major League Baseball quit playing in August of 1994 in the middle of their season. The World Series wasn't played and the following season was shortened to 144 games. Players went back to work in mid-April 1995.

It was the first labor stoppage involving a canceled World Series. Since that time, Major League Baseball has expanded, attendance has reached record levels and players make more money than ever.

National Hockey League Lockout, 2004-05

The National Hockey League locked out players for nearly a full year starting in September 2004. Not a single game was played. As part of the new labor deal, players agreed to a salary cap but they also had access to a greater percentage of the league's profits. NFL Strike, 1987

The last NFL labor dispute was in 1987 and resulted in one week of games canceled and three weeks played with replacement players. The owners were well prepared—they already had replacement players ready to go after the games were canceled. The NFL is still the hottest professional team sports league in the United States. One of the most famous replacement players was Timmy Smith, who set a Super Bowl record for rushing yards for the Washington Redskins.

National Basketball Association Lockout, 1998-99

The NBA shortened its season to 50 games from 82 games as owners wanted to cap player salaries in 1998. It was the first time the NBA had lost games and revenue due to labor disputes. MLB Strike, 1981

Major League Baseball had a mid-season strike in 1981. Instead of canceling the post-season, this one lasted only 50 days from mid-June to late July. The strike was more about free agency than anything else—owners were worried free agents would demand more money. Free agency is alive and well today—contracts are getting richer and richer.
The current NFL labor dispute is currently in federal mediation as both sides are headed for a lockout.

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