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The NFL lockout has been traumatic for all of us. Here it is nearly mid-April and we have no NFL football to watch.
And although the work stoppage and legal wrangling is tough for us to take, it's even harder on the league's most innocent fans: the children.
Complicated terms such as "collective bargaining" and "decertification" are confusing for kids. They need us to answer their questions to help them understand and cope with our terrifying, football-less landscape. Externally, they might seem OK, what with their playing, skipping, innocent joy and laughter, but inside, they are torn apart by the lockout. Possibly.
Here are some FAQs kids might have about the work stoppage, along with suggested answers to their questions. And NFL owners and players, if you're reading: Won't you please remember the children!
Q: Why are you making me sit down to talk about the football lockout? I want to go outside and play.
A: It's OK. I'm here for you. I know this is as hard on you as it is for me. So we're going to talk about this until I think you are OK about it.
Q: Do I have to?
A: Yes. Ask me a question.
Q: All right. What are the football players and the old men fighting about?
A: Mainly money. The old men who own the teams want more of the money the NFL makes. The players don't think the old men should get more of the money, at least not without showing them why they need more.
Sometimes people don't learn how to share when they are your age, so they still have problems sharing even when they are big. Right now, both sides are talking to a judge, who, in the adult world, is like a mommy or a daddy who has the power to put them both on timeout or take away part of their allowance.
Q: What is collective bargaining?
A: Collective bargaining is kind of like getting someone to help you ask for things. For example, say you ask me for some candy and --
Q: Can I have some candy? Please?!
A: No. No. That's called a hypothetical question. I didn't want you to really ask me for candy. I was talking about collective bargaining. If you alone ask me for some candy, I might tell you no. But if you came back with your brother and sister and asked, you probably would have a better chance of getting some. Three against one is better odds. You could put your heads together to come up with valid reasons you need and deserve candy; you could refuse to clean up your toys before you get candy; or -- most likely -- all of you together would be so annoying I would eventually just give in. That's what collective bargaining is like.
Q: Can I have candy now?
Q: Ohhhhh. I'm going to ask later with Janey when she gets home from soccer practice, OK?
A: You're learning!
Q: Who is the red-haired man who is in charge?
A: His name is Roger Goodell. He is the commissioner of the NFL. He is supposed to have the best interests of the league in mind, but the old-man owners gave him his job, so he is on their side. You know how your friend Tommy has a stepdad who doesn't love him as much as he loves his real kids? It's kind of like that. The NFL players are the red-haired man's stepchildren.
Q: Who is the man with the weird hats?
A: You know who Tom Brady is. But, yes, he is very active in the lockout. He, along with other top players, is suing the NFL.
Q: No, that's not who I meant. I know who Tom Brady is. Who is the other guy with the weird hats?
A: Oh! You mean DeMaurice Smith! He is like the Roger Goodell for the players. He represents their interests. He wants to get a better deal for the players than their past representatives did.
Think of him like that clown we once got for your birthday party. Remember how he had that big red nose that honked and how that got your attention and then all of a sudden he pulled a shiny quarter from behind your ear? I think that's kind of what Smith is doing with his hats. They will get everyone's attention and then Kazaam! All of a sudden the players have all the money.
Q: Can't both sides just be happy to have a lot of money and get back to playing football?
A: That would be nice. But it's more complicated than that. To you, a million dollars sounds like a lot of money, right? But that's because you are a kid. To you 10 dollars is a lot of money. And if someone tried to take a dollar from you, it would upset you. But if you were older and you had a million dollars and someone tried to take $100,000 from you, it would upset you -- even though now you can't imagine be unhappy with $900,000. It's all relative. And "relative" is a term used by really rich people to justify fighting over tons of money.
Q: What happens if there is no season?
A: Well, imagine this. It's a Sunday in the fall. The weather is crisp. But there is no NFL football. Our Sundays are completely unscheduled. We will have to fill the time somehow. But with what? Visits to your grandparents. Building a tree house. Doing, I don't know puzzles together or something. It sounds pretty bleak doesn't it?
Q: Does "bleak" mean great?
DJ Gallo is the founder of SportsPickle.com. His first book, "The View from the Upper Deck," is available from only the finest bargain-book retailers. His next book project will be released soon. You can follow him on Twitter at @DJGalloESPN.
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