The National Pro Fitness League: A Win-Win Situation
By David H. Freedman
In the summer of 2007, I was sitting at my desk in my office at the University of Florida when I received a phone call from a reporter named Mike Williams. “Hey,” he began, “I’m calling because I have some interesting news.”
“Well, it’s not just any news,” Williams continued. “It’s something that could change the way professional sports are run forever.
And it involves two guys who play football for the Miami Dolphins.”
Williams went on to explain that the NFL had been considering merging its three major divisions into one big entity called the National Football League. If they were successful, it would mean all 32 teams playing each other every week instead of once or twice a season.
It would also result in an increase in ticket prices and television contracts.
So what do you think?”
Williams asked. “
Shouldn’t the owners be able to make money off these new TV deals? Why shouldn’t they get richer while everyone else gets poorer?”
At this point, I knew there was no way the NFL was going to merge with the NFFL. But if it did happen, then maybe I could convince them to let me write a story about it. That was a big if, though.
“I have no comment at this time,” I said. “But thanks for the information.”
I hung up the phone and noticed it was only 11 o’clock in the morning. I had been dreading another day at my desk, slogging through an endless amount of academic journals until my eyes bled.
Now I had a legitimate excuse to do something else. Over the next few weeks, I traveled to New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Boston in an attempt to get more information about the proposed merger. While most owners were tight-lipped, I was able to learn that most of them were not interested in signing off on the deal. They had valid concerns about losing their identities as individual teams, and they also worried about a potential decrease in fan loyalty and attendance if all 32 teams played each other every week.
That’s when I got the idea to write a story about the players. While fans were concerned about the effect the proposed merger would have on them, I knew (or at least hoped) that most of them cared more about what it would mean for their favorite players.
There was already a huge drop in attendance for the 1920 season and another one like that might put teams like the Philadelphia Yellow Jackets out of business.
In the fall of 2007, I published a story on ESPN titled “The Merger that Will Never Happen.” In it, I predicted that the owners wouldn’t have enough votes to pass a measure allowing for the National Football League to replace the National Football League.
The article got picked up by several newspapers and websites, and it even appeared on a couple message boards devoted to the NFFL.
As it turned out, my prediction was correct. The owners could not come to an agreement on the proposed merger.
And when the team owners got together for their annual meeting in January 2008, they decided to scrap any future plans for a merger.
The following month, I was named Journalist of the Year by the National Football League. The publicity from my story also resulted in a promotion at work: I was named Managing Editor of Sunshine Press.
Now I get to boss people around and make them do my work. It’s great.
Sure, I didn’t exactly save football like I wanted to when I was 17. But in a way, I still feel like I did.
Just not in the way that anyone expected me to.
Note: This story is an adaptation of a narrative essay that I wrote for my Advanced Writing class in 2007. If you liked this story or if you’re a fan of the NFL, you might be interested in reading my book called Fantasy Life, which can be purchased here.
Sources & references used in this article:
The win-win classroom: A fresh and positive look at classroom management by J Bluestein – 2008 – books.google.com
Local government wellness programs: A viable option to decrease healthcare costs and improve productivity by AD Benavides, H David – Public Personnel Management, 2010 – journals.sagepub.com
Allowing Private Youth Sport Endeavors at Public Facilities by KJ Bodey – 2011 – shapeamerica.tandfonline.com
Conserving Biodiversity in Metropolitan Landscapes A Matter of Scale (But Which Scale?) by JR Miller – Landscape Journal, 2008 – lj.uwpress.org
Creating a win-win situation through collective bargaining: the NFL salary cap by AW Heller – Sports Law. J., 2000 – HeinOnline
Labor-management bargaining in 1993 by LK Fuller – … TO THE STUDY OF MASS MEDIA …, 1999 – STUDY OF MASS MEDIA AND …
Why Coach Football? A Football Coach Tells Why His Profession is Worthwhile in Spite of all its Headaches by MH Cimini, SL Behrmann, EM Johnson – Monthly Labor Review, 1994 – JSTOR
Virtual reality: Movement’s centrality by GH Allen – Journal of the American Association for …, 1951 – shapeamerica.tandfonline.com