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NFL's decision puts league competitiveness in peril

The National Football League is about to take a step in a bad direction if a recent report is true that the league will scrap a small revenue-sharing program between franchises.

The $100 million Supplemental Revenue Sharing program is just a small piece of the revenue sharing that flows from teams with large TV contracts and stadium revenue to those without. Money divvied up from national TV contracts totals more than $3 billion, which will stay in place for now. However, with overall poor revenue generated by the Metrodome, ahem, Mall of America Field, the Vikings were one of the teams that benefited from the SRS system.

The NFL is clearly the strongest sport and has a grip on the heart of American sports fans. One of the reasons is that fans from cities like Oakland, Kansas City, Buffalo and Cleveland, who have crummy teams this year, know that a few good draft picks and free agent signings and they could quickly -- in a couple of years or so -- become a contender. "Parity" is the term often applied to this.

Compare this with Major League Baseball, where the Yankees and Red Sox trade for or sign through free agency all of the good players off the lesser teams, and the storyline of the whole season is whether those two teams can fulfill their destiny and win a championship. Meanwhile, there's little interest in a game between the Kansas City Royals and Seattle Mariners. Those teams are bad, and will be for a long time. Money equals championships, pure and simple.

Why would the NFL go down this road? Do we want 2-3 good teams in large markets like New York, and a bunch of terrible teams that get beaten regularly by those teams? Revenue-sharing and parity are what make the NFL competitive and fun to watch.

While this $100 million won't amount to much, it will mean the league is taking a step in the direction of competitive imbalance at the same time they put the squeeze on markets like Minnesota to build a new stadium. Soon the threats of "We'll move to L.A." will begin again about the Vikings. While the team is a source of fun and pride in the state, now is the wrong time to be making threats, especially if the team we build the stadium for would soon become the strawman opponent for an East Coast team.

NFL: realize what you have and don't let greed kill the golden goose.

This week's editorial was written by Steve Schulz, editor and publisher of the Pioneer Journal.