If a club has to move to greener pastures—or even go belly up—it's not the end of the world; these things happen in other businesses every day. Furthermore, if leagues were truly worried about their teams' expiring, they could call a temporary halt to expansion. If there are rich people willing to spend $100 million for an expansion franchise (just about the minimum price tag for getting into baseball or the NFL these days), why not coax them to spend $100 million to turn a failing franchise around instead?
The keys to labor peace and fiscal sanity are the same in all sports. Owners have to make up their minds: When they sell their teams, they're committed capitalists; when they seek to rig salaries in what should be a free market, they're the most enthusiastic collectivists since Marx and Lenin. They can't try to have it both ways and expect anyone—the unions, the fans, the media—to take them seriously. Also, they must make a clean breast of their finances (as part of the negotiated NFL peace, independent auditors now have access to the owners' books), thereby establishing greater trust not only between owners and players but also between owners and owners. To deal with economic inequities, the owners should increase revenue sharing among clubs to include the pooling of gate and local broadcast receipts; as things stand, the degree of revenue sharing in pro sports varies greatly, from a lot (the NFL) to very little (baseball). The owners should stop trying to link revenue sharing, as they invariably do, to a salary cap, for the reason that the one doesn't rely on the other.
Owners and players: It's time to get back to the bargaining table. The owners must scrap the cap, work with the unions to settle all other issues on the table and lei the games resume. Work stoppages have occurred before in sports, and always the fans have returned. No doubt labor and management alike are counting on that happening again. And they may be right. As Michael Givant, chair of the sociology department at New York's Adelphi University, says, "You can't just replace sports with something like going to the movies. This isn't how fans' souls are arranged. We are talking about people who miss weddings for games, who miss anniversaries."
But Givant allows that even the most rabid devotees of sports may feel less kindly about them when the lights go back on in the now-darkened arenas and stadiums. After all, he says, "die-hard fans measure their lives by milestones in sports, moments that define part of their lives. They remember a year as the year the Giants made the Super Bowl on Matt Bahr's field goal, or as the year Seattle Slew won the Triple Crown. Those sorts of things are now being lost."