- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 31, 2009

Another decade has come to a close. It was a decade of big changes in the sports landscape, with significant advancements in the way Americans watch and digest the games of their favorite teams.

Here are a few predictions on what will happen in the next 10 years:

Sports on TV will go beyond high-def - We’ve already seen the introduction of sports broadcast in 3-D, and the early reviews from those who’ve experienced it are quite positive. (Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, however, recently learned that showing a 3-D broadcast of a game on a screen hanging above the game itself is just silly.)

Expect 3-D sports to take off in 2010 and 2011, when more 3-D televisions hit the market and the technology moves past the experimental phase. Later in the decade, the trend will shift toward truly immersive experiences that simulate being on the field of play. By the end of the decade, the notion of seeing a game live will be truly challenged by the at-home experience.

There will be work stoppages - The over/under on strikes and lockouts in the next decade will be at least two. The NFL could lock out players in 2011 if negotiations with players don’t begin in earnest soon. The NBA, with several teams struggling at the gate and parity going by the wayside, has been clamoring for changes in its labor deal and could force a work stoppage after the 2010-11 season.

Major League Baseball’s labor deal expires after 2011, but a stoppage seems unlikely then because of the lack of truly contentious issues on the table. Given the league’s history of labor battles, it is long overdue for a strike or lockout at some point during the decade. The NHL, meanwhile, probably will avoid a stoppage because it only recently has emerged from the dark cloud of the lockout that canceled the 2004-05 season.

Tiger Woods will rebound - By the end of the decade, Tiger Woods will hold the records for the most major golf wins and most PGA Tour victories. The surprise and anger over his infidelity will have been overtaken by renewed amazement over his skills on the course. And he’ll be back to making tens of millions of dollars from endorsements.

Will he have lost out on millions of dollars in the interim? Perhaps. Will he be revered as much as if he had never cheated on his wife? Probably not. But by decade’s end, his transgressions no longer will be on the forefront of people’s minds.

Corporate logos on uniforms? Count on it - It’s already common in soccer and Japanese baseball. The WNBA is already doing it. The NFL already has ads on its practice jerseys. By decade’s end, team uniforms will no longer be seen as sacred ground as teams scramble to find new ways to boost revenue.

Look for the NBA to go first. Major League Baseball may lag behind. But it’s happening. The big question in the decade is whether jersey naming rights will create income disparity among teams. After all, a logo on a Lakers or Cowboys jersey could be worth big bucks. The Grizzlies or Bills? Not so much.

• Tim Lemke can be reached at tlemke@washingtontimes.com.

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