The first two weeks of the NBA's season have been canceled after failed negotiations between owners and players. What's a fan of the Lakers — or any of the NBA's other teams — to do? Here's a look at a few other sports that haven't faced lockouts or strikes.
While there have been soccer strikes in other nations, soccer is such an international sport that it's less dependent on any nation's labor laws, so you're likely to be able to watch world class soccer at almost any point. Here in the United States, there is a Major League Soccer players union, but they have yet to strike. Major League Soccer was founded in 1993, with the union founded in 2003, so they haven't been around long. In 2010, contentious negotiations did raise the possibility of a strike, but eventually a 5-year agreement was reached.
Mixed Martial Arts
There's been less of a drive to unionize in individual sports. A major mixed martial arts union has yet to form, so the fighters of the sport's largest organization, UFC, don't have the opportunity to strike. The fighters currently operate as independent contractors. Individual fighters can refuse to fight, but UFC can choose to terminate those fighters' contracts if they want. This means that you're likely to see year-round fights for the foreseeable future. One of the legends of MMA, Randy Couture, pushed earlier this year for more rights for fighters. He stopped short of endorsing the idea of a union, though.
“There’s a whole bunch of issues when you start unionizing,” Couture said in an ESPN interview. He pointed out the potential lockout then facing football and added, "I mean, why are you in the sport? Because you love to play the game, right?"
One of UFC's owners, Lorenzo Fertitta, responded to the idea in 2010. "We have no role," Fertitta said. "So we're not in a position to say we support it, or we're against it. That's entirely up to [the fighters]." However, Fertitta did suggest that, due to the individual nature of MMA and the differing needs of different fighters, an MMA union wouldn't be practical. Fertitta and his brother also own the largest non-union casino company in the United States, Station Casinos.
Recently, tennis superstar Andy Roddick began pushing for a union. "Without a union, it’s tough for us to complain about anything," Roddick said. If we don’t unite, we have no one to blame but ourselves.” Roddick complained in particular about the length of the tennis season — 11 months. Until a union forms, though, chances are you'll be able to continue watching tennis for the vast majority of the year.
Bonus: Pro wrestling
Perhaps this should have been a list of 3.5 sports. Not a sport in the traditional sense, pro wrestling is at least an athletic endeavor, and one where those involved face significant physical risks. Pro wrestlers have attempted to unionize at various points, including an attempt at unionization led by former pro wrestler and former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura. (Fun historical fact: Hulk Hogan went to WWE owner Vince McMahon with news of the attempts at unionization, stopping them in their tracks.) Wrestlers in the largest company in "sports entertainment," World Wrestling Entertainment or WWE, work as independent contractors. Wrestling also has no offseason, a fact wrestling companies have used to sell their sport to television networks eager for year-round programming over the years. It seems unlikely that a union will form in pro wrestling anytime soon as powerful wrestlers haven't shown an interest in pushing for one, so a pro wrestling strike or lockout is likely a pipe dream – but you can see a fictionalized version on WWE TV right now, as they recently featured a storyline about pro wrestlers unionizing.