They also think your money is actually their money. Or at least, it used to be yours, before you paid it at the box office, paid it at the concessions, paid it in the parking lot, and paid it in countless other ways - from those deplorable "seat licenses" to tax breaks and public funds for new stadiums and renovations, where they can charge you even more.
What are owners really owed in return for their investments? That's what fans must decide, in weighing whose side to support in the impending lockout and labor impasse, which, judging by the belligerent maneuvering of the past week now, likely will last many months and disrupt next season. The core issue is this: Owners resent the fact that a lot of your money is going into the pockets of players, instead of into their own. They contend the players are overpaid, and they are threatening to lock them out as of March 4 if they don't agree to a significant cut. They say this is a necessary step to ensure future profitability.
But in what other industry do business owners act so entitled to make money every year into the limitless future? According to Forbes, the NFL's revenue has increased 43 percent since 2006 to $9.3 billion. Under the current agreement, the first billion goes to the 32 owners right off the top, while players receive a 60 percent split of revenues after that. Now the owners are demanding another billion off the top.
Who exactly is more overpaid? To repeat, the argument is over money that comes out of the fans' pockets. The only question is who should get more of it, the owners or the players that the fans pay to see? After all, they don't pay to see Snyder smoke a cigar, or consult with media advisors.
The owners justify their position by decrying rising "player costs." Player compensation has doubled since 2003, but that's because the wealthiest owners have driven up the market for their stars. Pete Rozelle's wife once observed that, "every owner I ever met thinks he's just two players from winning the Super Bowl."
The cost argument really should be an internal quarrel between the owners. If some of them aren't making enough money, or are even losing money - if some of them built sports palaces and some didn't - whose fault is that? Maybe they don't need a better collective bargaining agreement. Maybe they need a budget.