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25/10/2012 / Hackett

NHL: Don’t Do it for Me, Just Do It

Now Playing: Girlfriend - Matthew Sweet

I miss hockey, you miss hockey, we all miss hockey. If you know me and/or follow me on Twitter, you know that I’m a bit of a hockey fan. Live it, eat it, breathe it (that last one is the most difficult, especially when I was younger with asthma…but I digress). I’m not here to go over my fandom résumé for you, but you’re welcome to check my tattoos if you have questions. Anyway, I am taking what might be considered a novel, dumbnaïve, or even enabling stance towards this lockout: it has NOTHING to do with the fans.

If you’re still with me, great. Allow me to make a few points, then you may yell and scream and call me a moron.
All sports, amateur and professional, are a luxury. They are a source of entertainment and escape to which some of us have become hopelessly addicted, but it is an indulgence on which you choose to spend your hard-earned money. No one is forcing you to spend almost four hundred dollars for your favorite authentic jersey, or drop half a paycheck to take your family to a game; these are things you do because you enjoy the game, the atmosphere, and in some venues, even the food. I get it, I absolutely love dumping my money to do these things as well, I’m an addict too. People deal with this perplexing scenario in different, and sometimes, ridiculous ways, such as tweeting hatred and venom at the players, owners, agents, and in the most asinine fashion, writers and reporters. Yeah, stop doing that.
The owners, as much as you may want to delude yourself into thinking otherwise, have a business to run. They have invested millions, and in most cases billions of dollars in a franchise from which their goal is to turn a profit. This isn’t a goddamn hobby for them. They didn’t find a small fortune lying about and decided on a whim be a sports owner, they have worked for their money and have invested in what is often a volatile industry with great public vulnerability and accountability.
The players are their employees, and this isn’t a hobby for them either. This is how they make their living. They and their families depend on what they make to provide them with food and shelter. If I never hear the phrase “getting paid to play a children’s game” again, it’ll be too soon. This is not your children’s game. Decades ago, athletes used to have jobs in the off-season to supplement the paltry income they made playing sports. That was before the escalated contracts, multi-million dollar endorsement deals, exorbitant bonuses, and the ridiculous television and licensing deals came about. The professional sports landscape has become so intensely competitive that athletes have to dedicate their entire lives to “this children’s game” and aren’t able to secure off-season employment, which, due to their largely adequate salaries is not necessary for most.
The point is, this is more than just a game to the parties involved in the negotiations.This is their job, their career, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to stand in the way of them safeguarding their livelihoods in any manner they can. It’s great that we can get wrapped up in the trials and tribulations of our favorite teams as they beat themselves up for the glory of sport (and let’s not forget the almighty dollar), but when it comes right down to it, we have no place in the negotiations, and we really don’t deserve one.
I miss NHL hockey terribly, and I want it back right now. The reality is, it’s going to be a while, possibly a long while. I’m hoping that they will get things right this time, and we won’t be doing this same dance six or seven years from now. I just want both the league and the players to stop lobbying for the support of me and other fans. This social media PR war is getting the talks nowhere, and it’s only serving to make everyone more furious. I will be there the night the NHL comes back. I’ll bring my half a paycheck to the United Center gates and gladly hand it over for three hours of escapism and camaraderie with my fellow meatheads. I’ll buy the eight dollar beers, the hats, the shirts, the jerseys, and of course, a Committed Indian on the sidewalk. (That last one doesn’t contribute to league revenue, but it’s kind of a Chicago tradition.) If that makes you think me naïve, dumb, or part of the problem, then I can’t help you.
Come back to me, hockey.
-Hackett

2 Comments

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  1. GayCanuck / Oct 25 2012 11:57

    But, but, but I like demonizing Gary Bettman. It’s all his fault, dammit!

    • Hackett / Oct 25 2012 12:08

      I know you do, and according to @Stats_Canada on Twitter, it’s the third most popular major at Canadian universities. But he is actually doing his job very well. The owners have gotten what they wanted in each of the CBA’s under his tenure, and they’re making record revenues. But I understand why you might not want to take the guy to dinner… ;)

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