Thursday, 27 September 2012

A Fall to Remember

I live for hockey.  There is nothing better in the fall than the hockey season starting up, nor anything I look forward to more (except perhaps Christmas).  So much anticipation- so many questions, so many that I fear will not be answered this year. 

As many of you know, the NHL and its players union, the NHLPA are locked in a bitter stalemate over contract negotiations. As a result the commissioner of the league, Gary Bettman and the owners of the 30 NHL teams have locked the players out. 

What is a lockout?

You shall not pass.

Let’s clarify something.  A lockout and a strike are two entirely different things.  A strike is brought on by the union body saying that it will no longer go to work until they get a new contract.  A lockout is the owners refusing to let the players into their rinks to play.  Many NHL players have already said they would be fine playing the start of their season even if a new contract hadn’t been signed.

Why should I care?

Unless you’re a fan of hockey why should you take a stance? After all, this is a case of billionaires arguing with millionaires. We all have better things to do than hear about hockey players refusing to take a revenue cut from their $20 million contracts.

Pictured above: How much the NHL owners and Comissioner care.

Think about it. There are many people affected by the lockout.  Concessions stand workers; the people who make merchandise, custodial staff at hockey rinks nationwide and the cities themselves which suffer from not having an influx of hockey fans.  In an already struggling hockey community, such as Columbus or Phoenix, such things can be deadly to hockey’s lifeline.  

Hockey is a business-granted.  But hockey is more.  It is a way of life for some. For many of us fans, hockey is an identity.  It is part of who we are. For a sport to shut its doors on millions of fans is a testament to the mindset of the owners, and Bettman.

All that may be true, but what can I do?

We have no input on the decisions of these elite few.  What we can do is be heard.  Start a petition, educate others around you.  With social media such as Facebook and Twitter you can hear directly from the players, about their reactions to the lockout, and their advice to hockey fans across the world.

Be active! The league and the owners win, when fans stay silent and allow ourselves to go unheard.  As hockey fans we should stand united.  United against the closed doors and empty rinks.  United against greedy owners who despite last year’s record breaking revenue numbers, still demand salary cuts for their players.   United not just for us, but for everyone affected by the lockout. Remember, apathy is the glove into which Gary Bettman slips his hand. 

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