5 questions with Brian Frederick of SportsFans.org

While the NFL owners and players continue to battle in court about how to split the $9 billion pie, some fans are not sitting idly by waiting to find out what happens. Brian Frederick, the executive director of SportsFans.org, is one of those who is literally fighting on behalf of the fans–the fans like you who continue to get shafted by greedy sports team owners and overpaid players. We had the chance to ask Brian a few questions recently about SportsFans.org and some of the current issues affecting fans:

The Scores Report: First, if you can tell me briefly about how you started your organization and some of the things that you stand for?

Brian Frederick: Sports Fans Coalition was founded in 2009 by the chair of our board, David Goodfriend, a former Clinton White House staffer. He put together a great board, including a member of the Bush White House. I was brought on in August of 2010 to be the first full-time employee. We were founded to give sports fans a voice on public policy issues; to bring the voice of the fan to the halls of power. We are concerned about issues like media blackouts, stadium construction, ticket prices, work stoppages and the lack of a college football playoff.

TSR: I read that you were trying to earn a seat at the initial labor negotiations. Did anyone respond to you at all and if so, what did they say?

BF: After one of the mediation sessions in DC, DeMaurice Smith asked to speak with me and he and I walked back to his office and chatted. He said we had written a great letter and he was interested in some of our ideas. He saw no reason, for instance, that a new CBA couldn’t include language ending blackouts. I am still hopeful that he will try to include that in whatever the new CBA looks like, but I am not holding my breath. I never heard from Roger Goodell.

TSR: Now that the appeals hearing is set for June 3 and a ruling might not come down until a month later, do you think any games will be missed?

BF: It depends on the ruling (and further appeals). I’ve always felt that we are likely to lose some early games but not the whole season. That’s not to say that there’s not a chance the whole season will be lost, it just seems unlikely because this is just over how to divide revenue within a structure that works. The NFL doesn’t have the deeper problems that the NBA does, for instance. If the owners win their appeal, I think we’re looking at some lost games. If the players win, I think there’s a better chance for football in the fall.

TSR: Do you think the NFL has done enough damage to this point that will make fans boycott, at least to some degree?

BF: The NFL is certainly damaging its brand every day this dispute drags on. I don’t think it’s caused enough harm yet that fans will boycott. Only after games are missed will there even be a chance of enough fans uniting to take action. This is unfortunate, of course, because that is what the NFL and NFLPA are counting on — that fans won’t care until games are missed. But that attitude (like a game of chicken) is exactly what leads to missed games. There’s this sort of attitude among fans that it will get worked out — “they always work it out.” Well, they don’t always work it out. Sometimes there are games missed and even whole seasons.

TSR: When players and owners say how important the fan is, do you believe them? Why or why not?

BF: I believe that they believe the fans are important in the sense that they are important to their bottom line. They are interested in treating fans as loyal consumers and they don’t want to jeopardize that relationship. They want the fans to have an enjoyable experience and to pay as much money as they are able to in order to have that experience. They don’t mind that they lose fans who can’t afford to follow anymore. That’s troubling. Sport doesn’t have to be that way. At SportsFans.org we’re trying to empower sports fans and fight for a different way of thinking about sports — one that places what’s great about sports (passion, camaraderie, fair competition, athleticism, etc.) ahead of huge profits.

For more information about Sports Fan Coalition and SportsFans.org, please visit Sportsfans.org.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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