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Will they or won't they?

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - For fantasy football junkies, the next few weeks could be very telling as to whether they will enjoy next fall, or be "lost" without their weekly "fantasy fix."

The NFL owners and players seem hell bent on killing the "golden goose" a.k.a. the 2011-12 NFL season. The current CBA is set to expire on March 4th and neither side seems to be working very hard to avoid the situation.

The owners appear to be set to lock out the players and put the season on the line unless they get what they want -- more games while paying the players less money.

Under the league's current deal, the players get 60-percent of the revenue, but this is after $1 billion of the roughly $9 billion dollar revenue stream is extracted for operating costs. It is believed that the league is crying "hardship and poverty" and wants to take another $1 billion off the top before splitting up the revenue with the players.

How would you feel if the owner of the company where you worked asked you to take a salary cut and do more work?

Oops, that's happened to a lot of us over the past few years while the country has been trying to work its way out of an economic disaster. And we understood and accepted the cuts because we saw businesses fail every day.

Meanwhile, the players don't believe the owners are hurting. So they fight against the changes. However, they don't understand the facts of the "real" world -- billionaire owners can outlast millionaire players.

So we seem to be destined to miss part or all of the next NFL football season. And if that happens, fans and fantasy owners are the big losers.

For the majority of fantasy owners, those who only play fantasy football, their life will be different come the first week of September. It may also be better for some. There are family and friends to spend time with and other things to do on a beautiful fall Sunday afternoon besides sitting in front of the television set watching "NFL Red Zone."

Of course, for many of us, that is "heaven." So is offseason trade talk, the NFL Combine, the Draft and summer camp. Unfortunately, we may miss some or all of that this year.

For a small portion of fantasy owners, those who play fantasy baseball, basketball and hockey as well as football...there will still be ways to get our "fix". The baseball season runs from April through the end of September. The NHL season normally starts in the first week of October and the NBA in late October.

A delay or elimination of the football season could increase the numbers of those who play fantasy basketball and hockey. Which in turn, could increase interest and popularity in both sports. But neither sport can replace the NFL's universal popularity.

Unfortunately, we fans and fantasy players have no ability to stop or shorten the strike.

That's because the players and owners know we will return. We always have and always will, so they take it for granted that no matter how much they hurt us, we will be back. Sure fans threaten to give up tickets, stop watching, take up a new hobby, but we all know it never happens. We always come back.

My advice at this point is to prepare for the worst. That means start watching NHL and NBA and brushing up on your hockey and basketball statistics, because by next fall they may be the only fantasy games available.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.


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