Five worst labor disputes in sports

The NFL isn't known for striking. In fact, it hasn’t had a major interruption in play since 1987, which may be the reason for its continued popularity, says New York University professor of sports management Robert Boland. As the NFL faces its first labor dispute in decades, here is a look back at the five worst shutdowns in US sports history.

3. 2004-2005 NHL lockout (Sept. 16 2004 – July 19, 2005)

Andy Clark/Reuters/File
A sign referring to the National Hockey League labor problems between the players and the league sits in front of a downtown business in Vancouver, British Columbia Feb. 9, 2005. The NHL canceled its entire season because of the labor dispute, a first for a major US sport.

This was the first time in American history that labor issues caused a major sport to cancel its entire season. Mr. Boland says the lockout hurt the sport’s popularity in the United States, which had been growing with stars like Wayne Gretzky exciting interest, and Fox televising games nationally.

“I don’t think the sport has ever recovered from that, ” said Boland. “While the sport has made the revenue back, I would argue it’s a regional sport."

The lockout began after players and the NHL clashed over salaries, and the NHL canceled the season after both sides failed to come to an agreement.

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