Recession Hits Pro Sports: NFL Job Cuts Announced

Last Updated Dec 10, 2008 11:00 AM EST

It may be hard to believe that professional sports in America are now feeling the recession. The Yankees are still willing to shell out $160 million dollars to pitcher CC Sabathia. And you'd think TV ad budgets for sports will stay steady. Presumably, more fans will tune in for a distraction from all of the negative financial news. People are still paying for diversions and treating one's family with tickets to the game is a lot cheaper than hopping on a plane.

Yet even the mighty NFL today announced 150 job cuts. Apparently football's finance's are still strong but uncertainty over 2009 is prompting the league to play it conservative. Reports the New York Times:

  • But with revenue estimated at $6.5 billion for this year, the N.F.L. has until now experienced nearly unfettered financial success. This week, The Sports Business Journal reported that the N.F.L. would fall $50 million short of revenue projections this year.
  • The job cuts are part of a broader effort to reduce the league's costs. Travel and corporate outings have also come under the knife, although those cuts are not expected to be noticed by fans.
Other sports leagues had made similar cuts within their corporate operations earlier this quarter. According to the Times:
  • In October, the NBA announced the elimination of about 80 jobs, the Honda Motor Company is withdrawing from Formula One auto racing, NASCAR is aggressively cutting costs and Major League Baseball's Internet division has laid off about 20 workers.
These cuts may seem minor compared to those in industries hit hard like finance, manufacturing and publishing. However, its clear that pro-sports are quite dependent on sponsorships from the financial and automobile industries so the worst may be yet to come. If the car companies join finance in failure, professional sports leagues will need to make serious revisions to their playbooks.

Do you think we will see a somber Super Bowl this year?