Day 62. The Lockout

I know less than nothing about hockey.  The only time I’ve ever watched a game, is during the Vancouver Winter Olympics.  And believe it or not, I watched all of them.  Willingly.  I cheered, and everything.

Back in the day, I did date a guy a few times who was a huge hockey fan.  On our first date he took me to a game.  The fact that I was wearing a dress and stilettos probably contributed to the fact that our relationship was very short-lived.

My inability to even boil water in those days, couldn’t have helped my cause either.  He invited me to his apartment one night, for dinner, and when I didn’t know how long to bake the potatoes, or at what temperature, I could tell, by the look on his face, that I was in trouble.  I also dated a professional hockey player once or twice.  Nice guy.  But we had absolutely nothing in common.  Hockey was his life.  And it was my nightmare.

“So why”, I’m sure you’re asking, “are you writing a story about hockey?”  Well, it’s not really about hockey.

At one minute to midnight (EDT) on September 15, 2012, a mere month before the start of the 2012 – 2013 season, a labour dispute between the National Hockey League (NHL) and the union (National Hockey League Players’ Association) began.  The lockout continues, and the start of the season has been delayed.  And delayed again.

What’s the issue?  What else.  M-O-N-E-Y.

The owners want to reduce the players’ guaranteed share of 57% of hockey related revenues.  They also want to introduce term limits on contracts, eliminate salary arbitration and signing bonuses, and change free agency rules.  The union wants increased revenue sharing between owners and a fixed salary cap that is not linked to league revenues.

Before you take sides, or start to feel sorry for anyone, let’s just examine some of the facts, for a moment:

  • Everyone involved is already very rich.
  • The average player makes $2.5 million a year.  The average player.  How much money does an average accountant make?  Or an average nurse?  Or an average teacher?  Or you, for that matter?
  • League revenues are currently $3.35 billion, and are predicted to grow impressively.  Billion.

Right.  No need for us to hold a fundraiser for them.

But I’ll tell you exactly who I feel badly for.  I feel sorry for the sports reporters, who could find themselves unemployed.  The broadcasters, who are losing millions of dollars in advertising revenue; and who will, in turn, be forced to lay off all kinds of employees, whether they’re involved in hockey or not.

The ‘invisible’ people nobody ever thinks about:  The men and women who clean the arenas, the locker rooms and the showers.  The men and women who sell the tickets, and then collect them.  The men and women who sell the ice cream and the popcorn and the beer.  The cab drivers, who take the too-inebriated-to-drive-myself home.  The parking lot attendants.  Yeah, all those people who can’t even imagine what two and a half million dollars is.  Who won’t earn even half that much, in their lifetimes.

Make no mistake about it.  This lockout is not just about owners and players.  There’s the restaurants and bars the fans are now not frequenting.  They’re losing tons of money.  So are the breweries and makers of snacks.  Think about all the beer, pretzels, peanuts, potato chips and pizzas fans are not buying, and eating in front of the TV.  Okay, I concede, this may be better for their health, but still, a lot of companies are losing a lot of revenue, which is sure to translate to lost jobs.

As for the fans, well, find something else to do.  Read a book.  Play with your kids.  Talk to your wives.  Visit your parents.  Walk your dogs.  There’s a lot you can do to keep busy.  You’ll survive, trust me.  Frankly, you should be pissed off at both sides.

I am.  We’ve gotten too greedy.  Our values are way out of whack.  Just because a bunch of guys know how to stay upright (most of the time) on the ice, and don’t mind wearing false teeth, doesn’t mean they’re entitled to earn millions upon millions upon millions of dollars.  And just because another bunch of guys were savvy enough to invest in teams, they’re not entitled to earn billions upon billions upon billions more dollars.  Especially when so many millions of people around the world are struggling.

If it was up to me, I’d cancel the whole damn season; and I’d make the players and the owners dig into their pockets and compensate all those innocent bystanders, who are really suffering financially because of their greed.

And as for me, if I was a fan, I’d never buy another ticket to another game.  They’d never get another dime of my money.  Enough’s enough.

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