One of the biggest lessons that we learned as fans during last year’s NFL and NBA lockouts, as well as this year’s NFL referee lockout and now the NHL lockout, is that we don’t matter worth a squat. Sure, we’re the people who provide the money, but the owners, players, agents, players’ reps, and everyone else involved in labor negotiations know that we’re never going to realize the power that we have and just walk away from sports to prove a point. After all, if we gave up on sports, we’d have to deal with reality and not one of us wants to do that.
Take the Seattle Seahawks-Green Bay Packers “Fail Mary” game, for instance. It wasn’t just Packers fans, as NFL fans in general were calling for boycotts of the following week’s games if Roger Goodell and the owners didn’t get their sh*t together and reach a deal with the regular refs. If the NFL hadn’t come to terms on a new 8-year deal with the refs’ union that same week, would people have tuned out? Absolutely not. It wouldn’t have made a difference, because we’re moths drawn to the bright light.
The NHL is such a better example, though, because the stink of the last hockey lockout (hockout!) is still ripe in our figurative nostrils. You’d think that would stop commissioner Gary Bettman and the NHLPA’s Donald Fehr from allowing another work stoppage, but we obviously know that’s not the case. Instead, both the league and the players have walked away from yesterday’s meeting with no hope. Why? Because the owners want more revenue sharing at the expense of the players (among other things, obviously).
I feel bad for NHL fans. Really bad. Before the lockout, the NHL couldn’t even get ESPN to pay it 10 seconds of coverage on SportsCenter. Now? The network is rubbing salt in Bettman’s wounds by inking a deal with the Kontinental Hockey League for this year. Bettman doesn’t care, though. He thinks he’s David Stern. Too bad the fans that he’s enraging know that he’s anything but Stern. They know he’s simply a man who has lost his grip on reality and is destroying an entire professional sports league in the process.
But Bettman doesn’t lose. Neither does Fehr. Hell, the players won’t even really lose. Only the fans lose, and that’s the worst part about this.
Oh and the NHL’s Ice Girls lose, too, so let’s forget all that other stuff and spend some time honoring them, because they’re awesome and we’re going to miss them more than the players.
(Banner , images via NHL Ice Girls, Boards N’ Broads, Sports Illustrated, and other various places.)
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