STANFORD (KCBS) - The NFL lockout now being disputed in a federal appeals court could signal dramatic institutional changes in every professional sport as players fight for free agency, a Stanford economist said Friday.
"You might go through an era that lasts two or three years where there's partial or even full seasons lost in each professional sport," said Roger Noll, a professor emeritus in the Stanford University economics department.
KCBS' Susan Kennedy Reports:
With a basketball walkout possible next season, Noll said the legal fight over the NFL lockout suggests that other leagues would "sacrifice billions of dollars to try to preserve the status quo."
His comments during an all-day forum on sports economics sponsored by Stanford's Institute for Economic Policy Research came as the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis threw the NFL back into chaos late Friday by putting a judge's order lifting the lockout on hold.
The appeals court granted the league's request for a temporary stay of the injunction issued Monday that ended the 45-day lockout imposed March 12 after the National Football League Players Association voted to decertify.
Next week arguments will be heard on whether that order should be overturned altogether.
Noll said the dizzying week of legal wrangling could herald even greater volatility among individual teams from year to year in the future.
If players are able to do away with collective bargaining and sign as free agents, they would pick their teams rather than be drafted.
The Friday decision came as the second round of the NFL draft was getting underway, ruining one of the most encouraging days the league had seen in weeks.
Hundreds of players had returned to their teams to meet with coaches, work out and have a peek at their playbooks.
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