Lockouts, big boots, good deeds

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The beginning of summer often signals a break for most school-aged children, however, college students don’t seem to get that opportunity anymore. They spend their summers interning, traveling the globe, taking summer classes, working, and performing a host of time-consuming activities. With such a busy schedule, it can be easy to overlook some of the glamorous sporting news of the world. Here are some sport’s headlines you might or might not have heard about this summer:
NFL Lockout Grinds to an Eventual End.
What Happened: Professional football in the United States was virtually non-existent for the 132 day labor lockout that began in early March. The cause of this lockout was, of course, financial in nature: the NFL players and owners disagreed about how the estimated $9 billion dollars in annual revenue should be divided between the two sides. The lockout eventual ended on July 26 with a new labor agreement.
What It Means: First and foremost, the new labor agreement means that there will be professional football for at least another 10 years before any future labor negotiations take place.  It also brought several changes to the NFL status quo, most noticeably that rookie salaries will now be capped (thankfully, Cam Newton got a jump-start on his salary in college). However, the extended absence of summer practices means that fans can expect some relatively sloppy football for the first few weeks of the season.
NBA: “We want to have a lockout too!”
What Happened: As predictable as any James Bond movie, the same plot that unfolded in the NFL is playing out in the NBA this summer because of its own labor disagreement. NBA owners and players find themselves at an impasse as they argue about how to divide the league’s revenue. However, this disagreement seems much deeper than the one in the NFL as approximately 73 percent of NBA franchises find themselves in unsustainable business models caused by extremely high player salaries. In layman’s terms, franchises have been losing money every season for years now. So, while the NFL owners and players eventually resolved their differences, all signs point to this lockout lasting for a very long time.
What It Means: Foreign basketball leagues, rejoice! A plethora of basketball stars appear ready to join foreign basketball teams in countries such as China, Turkey, and England this coming season. Ron Artest, Kevin Durant, Dwayne Wade, and Deron Williams are just a few of the players that seem ready to play overseas. As for the fans, sorry guys, it is what it is. This labor conflict isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and the 2011-2012 season is likely to be suspended or possibly even suspended.
U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Claimed Second Place at World Cup.
What Happened: The Lady Yanks showed excellent heart and resilience in the early rounds of the tournament as they battled back to beat Brazil and advance to the semi-finals. After a convincing 3-1 victory over France to advance to the finals, the USWNT seemed like a team destined to win their first World Cup since 1999. However, after being unable to finish numerous chances early on in the final against Japan, U.S. fans knew something was amiss. Sure enough, after losing two leads, on during regulation and the other during overtime, the U.S. went to penalty kicks against Japan and lost 3-1.
What It Means: Back to the drawing board for the U.S. While they had a good tournament, the competitiveness in Women’s soccer has grown quite a bit in the past four years. The U.S. will need to work even harder if they want to remain ranked as one of the top three nations in the pool.
The Atlanta Thrashers Get the Boot.
What Happened: The Atlanta Thrashers struggled financially for several years. A prospective buyer offered to buy the franchise. The Thrashers agreed. They decide to move north of the border. Problem, solution, agreement (take note, Congress).
What It Means: Atlanta loses its only NHL team, but not many Georgians seem to care about the Thrashers, as indicated by their third-to-last attendance ratings this year. With the Thrashers gone and the Atlanta Hawks not likely to use the Phillips Arena this year, it seems the owners will need a new source of revenue.
Fan Returns Money Ball.
What Happened: Derek Jeter reached the fabled 3,000 hits mark this summer by hitting a home run on July 9. One lucky fan, Christian Lopez, grabbed that home run ball that had an estimated worth of $250,000. Yet, instead of selling it for the money, Lopez decided to give the ball back to Jeter in honor of his accomplishment.
What It Means: It seems this is one guy who has the right idea. Thankfully, the New York Yankees gave Lopez several autographed jerseys, balls, and bats as well as premium box seat tickets for the rest of the season to repay him for his kind deed.
 Texas A&M Wants to Join the SEC.
What Happened: Texas A&M announced that it wants leave the Big 12 to join the SEC. If all goes through, they will begin playing in the SEC in 2012.
What It Means: This is big news in the college football world. What does it mean for A&M? Well, they will now be the only Texas school to play in the SEC. That will be a huge recruiting and popularity boost to the program. What does it mean for the SEC? The addition of Texas A&M to the SEC means that the league will be looking to add another team to its conference to even out the numbers. Current speculation indicates that Clemson and Florida State are frontrunners. It looks like the nation’s most prominent sports conference is about to become a whole lot more dominant.

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