The NFL moved to lock out its players this morning after the NFLPA decertified their union on Friday. It's not a great situation for fans, who just want to watch their favorite teams, play fantasy football and drink beer at the local pub on Sundays.
In terms of fandom, the Arizona Cardinals are the hottest sports ticket in town. They only play eight home games a year, and generally speaking, they sell out the University of Phoenix Stadium. But if the NFL doesn't have a season in 2011, what will those fans do to pass the time?
My suggestion to Cardinals fans: support the Arizona State Sun Devils in 2011! Your local college needs you now more than ever. ASU has not drawn huge crowds in years; the quality of the product on the field has steadily improved over the past two seasons, even if it hasn't reflected in the win-loss columns.
2011 is a big year for the Sun Devils, as it is the inaugural season of the Pac-12 conference. ASU has home games against some excellent competition, including the Missouri Tigers, the USC Trojans, the Arizona Wildcats, and the California Golden Bears. You can even catch a glimpse of the Colorado Buffaloes in Tempe in their first season after defecting from the Big 12.
I know you have doubts. The weather at Sun Devil Stadium is very hot in the first few months of the season, and the college game just isn't as athletic or polished as the professional gridiron. But it's possible that the NFL players will be too busy arguing over just how big a slice of $9 billion they want to earn instead of playing games this fall.
Despite the NCAA taking a hit recently in regards to amateurism and rules violations (see: Tressel, Jim), it's still a game played by students. They aren't earning a paycheck to play this game; they are earning an education and the opportunity to excel in both sports and life. That's a cause worth supporting.
As a Sun Devil fan, I can tell you one thing: this upcoming season could be special. The team has been together for a few years now and has gelled into a strong unit. The defense will impress fans of the NFL game with their speed and hitting. Vontaze Burfict, ASU's middle linebacker, will surprise you with his all-out effort, even if it earns him some penalty flags in the process.
In the end, it's not about whether ASU will have a good season. It's about appreciating the events that will actually be hosted in the valley in 2011. If the Cardinals won't play, then give your hard-earned dollars to a program that actually will. Besides, tickets are a whole lot cheaper for Sun Devils games, anyway.