On the surface, it looks as though there's still hope of a 2011 NFL season. But the draft that's underway could disappear, and so could salary caps, depending upon how the courts rule on the dispute between team owners and players.
"Since there's no collective bargaining agreement in football, there won't be one in basketball after the playoffs end, the management is flying blind now," said Prof. Roger Noll, Ph.D., from Stanford's Institute For Economic Policy.
Noll is a renowned sports economist at Stanford. He explains that a major upheaval is in the works. The players don't want a union. Not having one would turn them into free agents so they can strike their own deals. The owners want the union because it allows collective bargaining and provides anti-trust exemption.
"We could have partial or even complete losses of seasons in every single sport over the next two years before this works itself out," said Noll.
The NFL's future and the implications for pay and other sports came up at a sports forum, sponsored by the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
Nikhil Joshi is a graduate student who has been analyzing NBA's rookie pay cap. He said, "If the NFL gets their way, then look for the NFL to try and institute a rookie pay scale similar to the one you see in the NBA."
And the agent for NBA star Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets welcomes free agency for players.
John Huizinga, Ph.D., is also a University of Chicago economics professor. He says, "As an agent and representing players, I'd love to see players to be able to go wherever they want. Most of us have that right to work for whoever we want."
Talks between players and owners are set for mid-May.