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The Good Old Hockey Game

This being a Man’s site and all, I though it would be prudent to weigh in on the NHL lockout, at least now that the season has been officially cancelled. While I’m sure that many don’t care about the lack of hockey on their televisions this fall, many do.

However, no person cares more than those whose livelihoods are directly related to the sport. I’m not talking about the owners or the players, I’m talking about those who never had a say in the lockout, and who don’t have millions in the bank to carry them through.

My sympathies really extend out to the regular working Joe. The guy who owns the sports bar next to the Arena. The people who work the concession booths at the games. Each Team has dozens of employees who have been laid off – office staff, ticket sales, and marketing. How do they pay their mortgages? Who feeds their kids?

The irony of course, is that these people are the very ones who make hockey popular. These are the families who spend $60 a ticket to take their family to a game once a season. These are the ones who regularly tune the TV to cheer on their favorite team. Sports fans are often maniacal in their devotion to their teams, but for the sport to let them down in this way is, in my opinion, unforgivable. As baseball learned in 1994, you cannot alienate the very people who make your existence popular and expect to have them come back when the league says it is time.

And what about the casual fan? In many parts of North America, hockey is a lifestyle. In most of Canada and the northern US hockey is drilled into your head from the time your parents can strap skates onto your feet. But can hockey survive in Florida? Texas? People will find other things to do to fill their time. And when hockey does come back, will the fans? Or will they stick to their new-found activities?

Listen, I’m not one to complain about the salaries the hockey players get paid. They have worked hard their entire lives to get where they are, and they provide a commodity that people are willing to pay for. Same goes for the owners of the teams. They are investing their money, and deserve to get a return on it that they are happy with. That is capitalism, and it is what has made our country the one that it is today.

What bothers me is the lack of common sense on both sides. Why a group of millionaire athletes needs a union to argue their salaries I will never know. All it does is drive costs through the roof and create another level of bureaucracy to tie things up. The owners are no better. In the end, they determine how much they are willing to pay for each player. They are the ones who outbid each other time after time to grab the ‘best’ players from each other. Both sides have driven costs, and ticket prices, through the roof. In the end, the only person who loses is the fan.

Look, the players and owners are at home with their families during this time. Instead of worrying about hockey I suggest you do the same. After all, Major League Baseball starts on April 3rd.