Here’s what’s going to happen during the NHL lockout.
The players are going to lose a lot of money.
The owners are going to lose some money.
The fans are going to save some money.
Some people are going to lose their jobs, their supplementary income, or a bunch of paychecks.
I’ll admit that I don’t know anything about how that’s going to work, but Jesse Spector had a great article about it in The Sporting News. The piece is great. The subject matter, not so much. I have one good friend and two acquaintances who work for the league itself. Depending on how long the lockout lasts, two of those people might have their jobs affected. I really don’t want to see anyone lose all or part of their income. That’s not even going into the vast number of non-players employed by the individual organizations themselves.
I think we’ve been talking too much about whose fault this is. The owners’! The players’! (Pro tip: “the fans’!” is not an answer to this question.) Maybe both sides are a little or a lot to blame. Maybe both sides are right in some respects. After all, what this comes down to is that this is a labour dispute, pure and simple. If both sides weren’t fighting for what they believe is their right, they’d be doing it wrong.
We’ve also been talking too much about the fans. I’m sick of hearing about boycotts and getting angry and taking stands and I’m also sick of hearing about how the fans don’t matter. Fundamentally, we do. It’s true that if zero people went to games, if zero people watched games on TV, if zero people spent thousands upon thousands on hockey merchandise, there would be no NHL.
But that’s not how this works.
Yes, the owners and the players know we’ll be back as soon as they are, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If they didn’t know we’d be back, there would be no point in negotiating their rights. The business and revenue may or may not take a hit when the lockout is over, and if they do, we don’t really know how big of a hit that is going to be. This is a product we’ve shown an almost pathological willingness to consume despite its myriad of flaws. It’s the right of both the business owners and the employees that bring us this product to negotiate their own labour terms.
Yeah, it’s inconvenient to us. We don’t get to watch a sport we love played at its most elite level. But we still get to watch said sport. Minor leagues. Europe. College hockey. Hell, your friend’s beer league team he or she never shuts up about. Go to one of their games, tell them how awesome it was when they flattened that guy, and make them happy. There’s still more than enough hockey out there to go around. For fans, an NHL lockout is an inconvenience, not an outrage.
In fact, I found out yesterday that I would end up saving at the very least two thousand dollars in the event of a cancelled season. When you buy one ticket for one game, it looks like, what, 70, 80 bucks if you get upper bowl seats at face in a city like mine, right? When you add up stuff like parking, concessions, going out after the game or dinner before, road trips, etc, it’s a bit of a shock.
Here’s how I found out: I went to this brilliant interactive chart the lovely Sarah Sprague made, put in all my numbers (I tried to be conservative about it by not including any playoff tickets because LULZ, Habs) and then was amazed. Go do it, you’ll feel better, too.
I’m just angry that negotiations didn’t begin in earnest much earlier in the summer. Maybe it wouldn’t have helped, I don’t know, but if anyone ends up unemployed because of this, that’s what I
would will be most angry about.
In any case. We all need to calm down. Our jobs are not riding on this, other people’s are. All we can do is hope for the best for those people, and wait to see when this gets resolved. In the meantime, instead of loudly raging into the ether, come meet me in Ottawa, Glens Falls, Albany, Shawinigan, Quebec, Manchester… I could go on… for some hockey. It’ll be a hell of a lot more fun than the anger, I promise.