NFL Players Need to Learn Lesson from MLB Counterparts: They Are at “War”

(The following is being syndicated from The Captain’s Blog).

They have chosen to start the war. They have fired the gun.” – MLBPA Executive Director Marvin Miller, quoted by AP, February 20, 1981

“We are at war!” – NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, quoted by The New York Times, January 22, 2011

As the NFL and the NFLPA careen toward what seems like an inevitable work stoppage, both the commissioner and players’ representative have engaged in a bout of public relations saber rattling. Meanwhile, major league baseball is expected to quickly come to an agreement on a new CBA when the current one expires in December 2011.

Not surprisingly, the NFLPA’s acquiescence to a salary cap has not mollified the owners’ voracious appetite for a larger piece of the financial pie. As a result, the lords of the NFL now stand poised to lock the players out if they do not once again capitulate to a series of adverse demands. If new NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith has anything to say about the process, however, things won’t be as pleasant for Roger Goodell and his band of profit takers this time around. The economics support the players’ position, so all that is needed is steadfast leadership.

Unlike past executive director Gene Upshaw, whose background was as a player, Smith is a bonafide litigator with 10 years experience in the U.S. Attorney’s office. Although he doesn’t have the labor background that Marvin Miller did when he took over control of the baseball union, Smith does seem to be cut out of the same cloth. Despite being criticized for his tough talk, he has not waivered in his public discourse. Ultimately, Smith will have to maintain unity among the rank and file, just as Miller did with his constituency, but if he can achieve that end, the NFLPA could emerge as a partner instead of an underling in the NFL’s financial structure.

The economic issues at hand are much different, and the relative size of the football union adds a greater challenge, but there are still lessons that Smith can learn from Miller. The chief among these, however, is the most basic. If the NFLPA is going to final win what is essentially a financial war, it can not be timid, and most certainly can not be accommodating. Even though the owners possess a massive war chest, their greed still makes them vulnerable. As much as the NFL chieftains would like to take a larger portion of revenues, they certainly do not want to relinquish the large sums of money that would be forfeited in a prolonged work stoppage. If the owners shut the game down for an extended period of time, they’ll be cutting off their nose to spite their face, and as much as greed can be a motivator for stupidity, multi-millionaires don’t get that way by turning off a steady steam of cash flow.

When it comes to this job, [Miller] remains my idol. He walks into a union that did not have a significant amount of information coming to the players, he had a very hostile reception from management, and what he brought to the players was the meat and potatoes of what organized labor unions do.” – NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, quoted by The New York Times, January 22, 2011

As baseball’s labor history has shown, owners’ resolve can wear thin quickly. What’s more, their veiled negotiating tactics are usually looked upon unfavorably by the courts and relevant government agencies. There has already been a crack in the union ranks, and some have criticized Smith’s reference to being at “war”, but the answer to that is to push forward with even greater resolve. Smith can not be afraid of a lockout. Marvin Miller never was. Whether it’s a war of words in the media or a war of ideas at the negotiating table, Smith needs to be on the front line fighting. He can’t worry about the harsh words that are likely to follow. Those same criticisms were levied at Miller, and now most people believe he merits inclusion in the Hall of Fame.

With selfishness being a natural human tendency, and so many players already “getting theirs”, most people, including the sport’s owners, expect that a lockout will be too costly for the players. The greater cost, however, will come from capitulating to a bad CBA. That’s the lesson the NFLPA has to learn, and that’s the challenge facing Smith. What would Marvin Miller do if he was leading the charge? He’d prepare for war…and that’s what Smith should be doing too.

26 thoughts on “NFL Players Need to Learn Lesson from MLB Counterparts: They Are at “War”

  1. I’ve never understood how the MLBPA, whose membership consisted of a very large percentage of folks that never went to college got it right almost immediately, while the NFLPA, almost 100% college attendees, still doesn’t get it.
    I understand a very large majority of the media is in lockstep with ownership any time there’s a disagreement, let alone a new contract to be forged. After all, didn’t Miller ‘ruin baseball’ 35+ years ago. (I still hear writers-and even a lot of fans-talk about baseball ‘needing’ a salary cap.) But I don’t understand how they had free agency and gave it back at least once before it was finally instituted. How they allowed a hard cap ever since, and how the owners have the union talking to NFLPA about an 18 game season.

    Union vs management is always a war, no matter what kind words are said after an agreement is reached. Owners want to be able to do whatever they want, and that rarely is in the best interests of the players.

    • I really don’t think you can overestimate the impact of Marvin Miller, which why Smith is the key figure here. If Miller really is his role model, the NFLPA may finally be able to win one of these battles. More than any other sport, football players put their bodies on the line for a relatively short career. It isn’t easy to keep 2,000 players on the same page, but if the owners overreaching arrogance in this case can’t do it, they deserve their fate.

  2. It amazes me how ineffectual the NFLPA has been in it’s existence. It has done nohting BUT capitulate in the past. For a sport that cfhews up and spits out people with life altering injuries the pension and health care procided are an absolute joke. The NFL is profitable, they have a hard salary cap, revenues are throught the roof and scab players just won’t cut it. Back in the day when the league was far less star driven it didn’t work, now that the NFL basically markets itself exclusively through the value of it’s stars it is an utter impossibility. The key is maintaining solidarity of course becasue history shows us that ownership is generally very poor at maintaining any solidarity/.

    Here here on your article, I’ve been a fan of the blog, but this blatant piece of pro labor union propaganda has won you a reader for life.

  3. When people in this country start understanding again that Investment and risk deserve a payoff, a big payoff and that labor(and or Government) deserves a fair wage but isn’t a Partner to what has been created, then indeed America can again become great.
    Even though Jerry Jones is an A-hole, if he invested the cash and took huge risk both purchasing and running a team and building a great Stadium, why should he be asked to to take the profits of that success and RISK and give them to other teams , so the players can get more money?
    That’s exactly the mentality that is making this a third world country.
    If Investors and entrepeneurs can’t strike it rich when they put in the time and risk their money, they stop doing so which is why there are no new jobs being created in this country.There’s no return on investment for creating those jobs, just future penalty.
    Poor Jamarcus Russell, he’s one of many underpaid NFL’ers.

    • Whoaa…slow down there. First off, sports leagues have been treated very favorably in the past, allowing them to build an unassailable position in the market place. In the case of baseball, strong anti-trust exemptions still remain to this day. Thanks to this legal protection, what you call a risk is seriously mitigated. Secondly, a large percentage of these risk takers benefit from public subsidies when it comes to financing their palatial stadiums, which then use as a reason to sell PSLs. You can’t have it both ways. If sports’ owners really want to be red blooded American entrepreneurs then they should refuse to benefit from these advantages.

      That aside, what many people feel to realize is that players are not only the labor in a sports’ team, but they also make up a significant portion of the product (i.e., they are both the widget and laborer who works with it). In the case of the MLBPA, they’ve realized this dual reality, and used it to beat the owners over the head every time.

      My ideal of the American way isn’t to strike it rich by taking advantage of unfair opportunities and then using that leverage to unfairly treat employees. Business owners can strike it rich by treating their employees (and consumers for that matter) fairly. Do you see any NFL owners fleeing the business because of how unfair it is? Neither do I.

      Owners have every right to make as much as they can, and if unions fail to demand what they deserve, more power to them. In this case, however, let’s not be naïve and think they are standing up for truth, justice and the American way.

      As for our country becoming a third world nation, I’d recommend paying a little more attention to current events to see what life in those countries is all about.

    • How many Darryl Stingley’s are there among the owners? Chuck Hughes? Kevin Everett’s? Mike Utley’s?
      That’s not even going into folks who suffered from their playing days onward, who could barely walk by the time they were 50, or suffered from ‘boxer’s parkinson’s’, or a myriad of other things.

      The owners invest money. The player’s invest their bodies and their health and a great deal of their time. I think the risk of losing money on an investment is nowhere near the risk the players take.

      If all of the owners closed shop, how long do you think it would take to make another NFL level league?

      If all of the players stopped playing, how long would it take?

      • IF the NFL went away forever I don’t think football would ever again reach the level of success they have had an even if another league caught on right away they would have new teams, clean record books and most peoples memories of the game would be gone.

        If that ever happened (and it won’t) either baseball or basketball would take over as the number 1 sport in this country.

        • I would argue that basebal is still the number one sport, but football is more “popular” because of its close association with gambling. Unlike most other team sports, there really isn’t a close emotional tie to the past. If any sport could reform quickly, it’s pro football, especially if Vegas creates a line for the games.

          • I understand you are a baseball fan before anything else (obviously) but trying to say the only reason football is considered more popular than baseball is the gambling aspect is just completely off base in my opinion, it ignores completely that baseball is bet on just as much anything else but yet less people are actually following this sport than football.

            I would have to say that

            Unlike most other team sports, there really isn’t a close emotional tie to the past.  

            this is completely wrong and sounds like the opinion of someone who isn’t all that much into football or the history of it and therefore assumes others aren’t as well, or and this could also be where you are getting this you just assume because the sport hasn’t been around very long as a united NFL that somehow people don’t understand and cherish the past which is completely out of touch with the NFL fan.

            First of all lets establish the difference between any fan that “watches” a sport and a fan that avidly follows said sport, anybody who simply watches any sport (including baseball) yet doesn’t have a passion for it other than just to be entertained will never be interested in any kind of history of the game, there are a lot of fans of all sports who fall into this category and there is nothing wrong with simply watching a game to watch a game but to say that dominates any sport is a wrongful accusation to me.

            I love baseball, I spend the whole offseason obsessing over the Yankees every move and non-move, giving my opinion even when not wanted as we all here do but I feel that same passion and dedication to not one team in the NFL but to the NFL as a whole. I personally have a routing interest in the Houston Texans because I love my state and I live in Houston so it just goes hand in hand but I’m going to be watching the Superbowl no matter who is in the game and I have done so since I was 8, I don’t ever remember a single “Super Sunday” in which the family wasn’t all gathered in the living room with friends and relatives to watch the big game. It was one of the only things we did do as a family in fact.

            I know a good deal about the rich tapestry of the past of both games that I love and I know plenty of fans of both sports who have the same passion for the history of their sports as I do mine (not many that love both equally though). However in my experience I know a ton more football watchers and passionate fans than I do in the baseball community which I think gets reflected in the championship games every year.

            For the MLB or the NBA to get a huge number of eyes on their finals they need certain things to take place and certain teams to be there in the end, nothing was worse for the NBA than when the Spurs and Pistons were dominating basketball because neither are large spending basketball markets and neither one attracted public attention outside of Detroit and San Antonio, Baseball similarly never does as well in viewership in the ALCS when the Yankees and Red Sox aren’t in it and when one or the other doesn’t make it to the World Series they have significant drop off in numbers. This years Giants-Rangers World Series got out-viewed by regular season football games in the early part of the season when fans should be more willing to miss a game for a championship.

            This year’s Superbowl is going to feature two of the smallest market teams the NFL could have picked and yet no one including the league could be happier with who actually made it to the final game, Pittsburgh and Green Bay have some of the most loyal fans steeped in tradition the game could offer and they travel better than just about any fans in sports period. The NFL isn’t going to lose viewership in this years game just because Dallas and the Pats aren’t facing off or because the Saints and Colts both got eliminated in the first round, in fact this year’s game is probably going to beat last years as the most watching television event of all time you can say that is because of betting if you would like but the World Series doesn’t get more viewers every year thanks to gamblers and I know basketball is hoping gamblers make it more popular too.

            The fact that The Packers and Steelers are such a big draw in this game proves to me just like most team sports there really is a close emotional tie to the past because the winner of this game will receive the Lombardi Trophy named after the coach who’s Packers took the NFL into it’s modern era and gave the immortal quote “winning isn’t everything it’s the only thing”, the man is the most talked about and recognized figure in maybe all of sports and he dates back to the merger of the two leagues and well before that. Opposing Green Bay for Lombardi’s Trophy is Steelers the team who owns more of said trophies than any team in the NFL, a team with 20 Hall of Fame players in it’s cherished history (The Packers have 26 Hall of Famers) many of whom (from both sides) will be present at the game and will be honored and commemorated all week long in interviews and on talk shows leading up to the event, in the end that is what the NFL has done that no other sport has done, they have made their Holy Grail of games more than a championship between two teams but they have in fact created an event of huge proportions that at the end of the day affects hardcore and casual fans in a way that no other sport has managed to do since and since they all have gambling aspects this can only be a small part of the equation given the extreme gap between the sports finales.

            Finally the most important reason behind the NFL’s unprecedented success is very simply it is the only sport that maintains league wide turn over to such a degree that any of the 32 teams have a chance to build themselves into a winning team and make it a Superbowl in 5 years time if they have a well run organization, the same can not be said for any of the main team sports that challenge football for supremacy.

            If I was a Kansas City Royals fan my team has not been relevant for most of my life and the same can be said for countless organizations whose last real taste of winning was in the 80’s, as is in the NFL the Cardinals were in the Superbowl 2 years ago, both of last years participants were eliminated in the first round last year, almost 80% of the teams who lose the Superbowl don’t make the playoffs the following year. They have have created the most competitive sport between every team in the league in existence and unless baseball or basketball start contracting teams they can never actually do this.

          • I can’t really argue with much of the above because it’s your opinion, and mine isn’t any bettter than yours. What I can do, however, is refute your assertion that baseball is bet one more than anything else. Consider the following (taken from an earlier piece I wrote here at TYU):

            Not only do most estimates place fantasy football participation at nearly twice the level of fantasy baseball, but a Pew survey on gambling in sports (published May 23, 2006) found that 23% of respondents bet weekly on pro football, while 42% placed at least one bet per month. Those numbers are astounding! As for baseball…the same survey found that only 5% of respondents bet weekly on baseball, with only 14% betting at least once per month. Not ironically, the only other sport that compared to pro football was college football.

            Every study done on gambling and sports, and every accounting of dollars wagered, concludes that the level of betting on football is exponentially higher.

            Furthermore, the competitive balance issue you have talken about has proven to be a myth by several studies. Jayson Stark has done a good job pointing this out on several occassions. Despite a shorter schedule and six playoff slots, there really isn’t more balance. Of course, what you are calling balance I would call medicority anyway, but that’s another story.

            As for the emotional angle, I can’t dispute your experiences, but mine have been completely different. At work and among my circle of friends, baseball talk centers around the teams we root for, but football talk centers around fanatasy, betting slips and knockout pools. I play softball on Sundays, and during baseball season, everyone wants to know what the Yanks and Mets are doing. During football seasons, you usually hear people asking about how many TDs Drew Brees has, or if the Bengals are winning by more than 10.

            Finally, when I watch the World Series in a group, the only thing people care about is the game. At a Super Bowl gathering, the commercials are almost bigger than the game, and for some reason, most people seem to care about whether a team’s score ends in a particular number at the end of each quarter? I wonder what that’s about?

            More power to the NFL for building it’s popularity, but in my opinion, it has become less a sport and more reality TV that you can wager on (kind of like American Idol meets the NCAA Tournament).

          • I did read your comment, so I don’t appreciate your implication, but nonetheless, my misstatement aside, your original assertion is still invalid. Baseball is not bet on “as much” as any other team sport. In fact, it isn’t in the same ballpark as football.

            As for your second follow-up, I didn’t say baseball doesn’t have fantasy (did you read or skim my comment?). However, the level of participation is much less than football (according to industry estimates). Therefore, it doesn’t impact both sports equally. What’s more, in my experience (and I can accept that yours is different), those who play fantasy baseball do so as n offshoot of their fandom, while many fantasy football players are casual fans and often don’t have an allegiance to a particular team. In my fantasy football league, there isn’t one owner who would put a rooting interest ahead of his fantasy performance. In my baseball league, the exact opposite is true.

            If you search on Google, you’ll come across several links to studies that show there isn’t a greater level of post season participation in the NFL when you account for the extra playoff slots. I am not saying the NFL’s competitive balance is a myth; the facts are. Also, coming into this NFL season, I didn’t think Bills, Browns, Raiders, Redskins and Lions, among others, had a chance at the playoffs. What does that prove? Going into last season, did you think the Reds or Padres had a chance at the postseason? Going into 2008, would you have said the Rays had no chance? That’s all anecdotal opinion. Using my two examples, in 2007, the Rays had the worst record in the AL, and then in 2008 they had the second best. In 2009, the Reds and Padres were well below .500. In 2010, both won over 90 games. Turnarounds aren’t unique to football. They happen all the time in baseball without four extra playoff slots, not to mention a much smaller and more varied strength of schedule. Also, building on the last point, is it really fair to tout a 7-9 team? Would you do the same for a 70-92 team in baseball? Neither would I…which clearly illustrates why the NFL’s “competitive balance” is a carefully concocted illusion.

            Finally, you couldn’t have a chosen a worse example for your point than each league’s respective networks. After 10 years in existence, the NFL network is still restricted to being on tier service with limited distribution, while the MLB Network was the largest cable launch in history.

            Baseball is still America’s pastime. The NFL may be a more popular entertainment vehicle, but baseball is still the sport that America cares about most. You are free to differ with my opinion, but my experiences, backed up by statistics, makes me more than confident in its validity. I have failed to see a counter argument that is persuasive, but am always eager to have my mind changed.

  4. I love when I ead INSANE reactionry rhetoric like “THIS IS becoming a third world country” Not to mention the golden age of american capitalism and american power occured ONLY during the period of PEAK american labor power. The post war years featured the best worker protection, pay pactrices and union representation which was the main reason for the creation of our middle class. WHich incidentally allowed for entrepreneurs to become richer by expanding the American consumer base.

    What a fantastic point about the players being both Labor and the widget. As for risk. Large corporations and especially sports teams have benefited not only from anti trust exemptions but alos from the infrastrure(decidedly NOT third world) that this country provides. Cry me a river for the management class sir. It’s the degradation of american LABOR that is sinking this country by providing less and less people with a living wage with which to consume.

    As if NFL teams operate in some kind of free market? In an industry where the players ARE the product they have every right to demand at least a 50% share of revenue.
    America’s greatest years were the post war unionizing years. As for Jamrcus Russell? He makes peanuts compared to the vast majority of failed CEO’s who walk away with hundreds of millions in cash and options.

    Sorry sir but strong unions lift all boats and the NFL’s union has made nothing but concessions. The pay of RUssell is irrelevant. WHy focus on him and not the 90% of guys who mak are out of the league and out of a career in two years.

    I applaud this article and am so pleased with the responses so far.

    • The teacher’s Unions are a great example of Union’s lifting things! BWHAAHAHAHAA!


      • dude you are a total fool. YEs the teachers union IS a great example because it has been one of the most effective american unions at doing what it is supposed to do. INCREASE PAY AND SECURITY FOR ITS MEMBERS. THe teachers union isn’t there to teach kids you idiot. THe union is there to make sure teachers get paid, heath care, pension and job security. YOu obviously have zero understanding of economics, labor, or even apparently American history. So yeah, the teachers unoin and others like it hae lifted it’s members into the middle class for a job that was historically terribly underpaid. IF you have a problem with schools that ‘s fine but the union doesn’t teach kids. Enjoy the Glen Beck show moron.

        • I’m pretty sure you could have made your point without calling him an idiot, moron or fool….

          We can disagree without making it personal, even if you made nothing but golden points all day long presenting it with such hatred is never going to get you recognized for it.

          Trust me we all disagree with Larry from time to time (I know I have) but he has never crossed the line of making things personal and even when we don’t agree at all I respect his opinion.

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  7. I also disagree with the notion that baseball is more popular than football. I think the NFL is more popular simply because the NFL game translates to TV better than MLB.

    • That puts it very well, Football is a much easier game for today’s 2 second attention span audience.

      • But neither points dispute my assertion that football is more popular (like sitcoms are more popular), but baseball is still the number one sport (i.e., it’s popularity is based on the inherent aspects of the game).

        • Both are sports and one is watched and cared about by more people, no matter the reason why that sport is number 1.

          You can’t be the number 1 coolest kid in school is you are the most unpopular… No matter how many times you tell yourself you are.

          • Good analogy, so I’ll run with it. Baseball is the kid others like because he is a nice guy. Football is the kid others like because buys them stuff. More people would rather hang out with the rich kid, but when you boil it down to the personal level, the nice guy is really the popular one.

  8. I think baseball is a very popular sport to attend, but isn’t nearly as appealing on TV due to the length of time between pitches. When I watch a game from before 1980, I see a game that quickly moves along and has a constant tension level because of it. (And it’s not like folks weren’t taking a lot of pitches in the 50s–look at those walk totals!) It’s just that the batter rarely steps out and the pitcher doesn’t spend a lot of time adjusting his cap (and belt and socks and etc). The umps letting guys like Mike Hargrove and Gaylord Perry slow things down like they did (not to mention the extra time between half innings for TV commercials) has changed the whole climate in MLB.

    Back to the NFL-I hope this guy’s the real deal, and that the players let him do whatever’s needed. I doubt it’ll happen, but stranger things have happened.

    • I think it also has a lot to do with that fact that a lot more kids grow up playing football in their back yards as kids with guys from around the neighborhood than they do playing baseball, if you get a football and 4-6 guys you can have a full game of contact football and be playing all day. There is no way to play baseball unless you get a full team together and they actually have all the equipment to pull it off, you add in the fact that a lot of kids grow up in more urban environments with less parks and more streets and yards and football becomes a much easier sport to attach on to as kid from a personal level.

      Football also appeals to something in man that the other sports don’t because they lack the physical confrontation of the game, whether people want to admit it or not we are a violent being and we like and accept violence a lot more than the regular person would like to admit to. We need outlets for these things in controlled and acceptable manners and football allows you to do that in a way baseball never will, baseball is about not hitting the other person and forgetting what makes you made, a lot of times it’s a thinking game a battle between two men with opposite goals but very finite ways to reach those goals and it takes finesse and control to do. Football at the bare minimum of the sport allows one guy to run over another guy and knock his lights out, this, right or wrong develop a love for the game in many that other sports can match because they aren’t “macho enough” and I personally know many people that feel that way.

      I believe William is also coming from a purely northern stand point and forgetting the rest of the country when he talks about his love of baseball, he forgets that here in the south football is more than a sport and most people don’t even care about baseball on level of anything resembling football. There is an old saying in Texas that there are 2 sports, football and offseason football and it’s as true today as it was then, the entirety of the south in fact wraps it’s entire identity into this one sport in a way that doesn’t happen with any sport in any other part of the county.

  9. I never said baseball was bet on more than anything else…

    All I said was that baseball is bet on AS MUCH AS ANYTHING ELSE (IE other team sports) I really wished you had actually read what I wrote because it is obvious you have simply skimmed, caught onto something you didn’t actually read in depth and took it out of context.

  10. As for the emotional angle, I can’t dispute your experiences, but mine have been completely different. At work and among my circle of friends, baseball talk centers around the teams we root for, but football talk centers around fanatasy, betting slips and knockout pools. I play softball on Sundays, and during baseball season, everyone wants to know what the Yanks and Mets are doing. During football seasons, you usually hear people asking about how many TDs Drew Brees has, or if the Bengals are winning by more than 10.  

    Because baseball doesn’t have fantasy? I hear people talk about fantasy baseball and I myself play in one every year, I don’t see the same number of fans in baseball as I do football, I really don’t see how something that affects both sports equally has to do with anything.

    Furthermore, the competitive balance issue you have talken about has proven to be a myth by several studies. Jayson Stark has done a good job pointing this out on several occassions. Despite a shorter schedule and six playoff slots, there really isn’t more balance. Of course, what you are calling balance I would call medicority anyway, but that’s another story.  

    You saying it’s a myth doesn’t make it so…

    Almost every team goes into the season with a chance at the playoffs, how many teams in this upcoming season can say that? You can’t give the Pirates, Royals, Indians, Orioles, Mariners a chance at the playoffs this upcoming season but in the NFL you had 4 teams make the playoffs that didn’t make it in the previous season and 2 of those teams were picking in the top 6 of the draft the previous year… How many times does a team go from picking top 5 in the draft and make the playoffs the following season? In the NFL it happens every year.

    Last year the worse team in the NFL was the 1-15 Rams and this season that team finished 7-9 which is a huge turn around, the worst team in 2007 was the 1-15 Miami Dolphins and the following the year they made the playoffs at 11-5.

    You can’t make turnarounds like that in the MLB or the NBA so how is that a myth?

    More power to the NFL for building it’s popularity, but in my opinion, it has become less a sport and more reality TV that you can wager on (kind of like American Idol meets the NCAA Tournament).  

    Your bias shows through in this statement and in fact in your whole argument, the case you have presented is little more than fans watch baseball and scrubs watch football and even if that s true (which it isn’t) it still isn’t a valid defense because whichever sport is followed the closet by the most eyes (for whatever reason) is number one in the country. The day of baseball ruling the land is long dead and it’s one of the reasons it took close to 10 years to get an MLB network when the NFL Chanel has been around since 2003, that is an argument for one being more popular than the other but in some ways it shows that there wasn’t a demand for a copy cat network for close to 10 years later.

    You can argue that you like baseball more and will never see football being number 1 to you or your friends but it is number 1 with America at large and the average American at large would much rather watch or be at a football game than watch or be at a baseball game whether you want to warrant it as the number 1 sport or not.