Stuck in the middle
NHL fans completely powerless
Todd Colin Vaughan
It’s over. Finally.
Now what should we do?
For 113 days, the NHL locked out its players and robbed its fans of 510 potential hockey games.
For most fans, the return of Canada’s game is bittersweet after taking the rough end of a millionaire versus billionaire battle that in no way, shape or form related to the plight of the average Jane/Joe.
Those 113 days weren’t the utopian socialist dream of collective bargaining. They were, in actuality, a self-indulgent, aristocratic dog and pony show that tarnished the already questionable reputation of the NHL and the NHLPA.
Indeed, having to watch day after day as grey-haired country-club members talked about the difficulties of dividing up billions of dollars in hockey-related revenue was enough to make this editor, currently buried in student debt, want to never watch hockey again.
But I will anyway. It is the proverbial catch-22.
Indeed, NHL hockey has us fans by the gills. By all means, we should do as many have called for and boycott the game entirely.
But, the NHL and the NHLPA know, as they did for every single one of those 113 days, that their on-ice product is entertaining enough that they could drag their fans through the mud a bit and make off without a scratch.
Donald Fehr, Bill Daly and Gary Bettman were all smiles when announcing the end of the lockout — as if they should be applauded for their efforts. The rest of us were relieved and the hockey world went on as usual.
No boycotts, a few mild, faceless complaints and a “well what can I really do about it?” attitude are all us fans had to offer the powers that be.
So I ask again, what should we do?
We can choose to not go to the games, we can choose to not buy their $10 popcorn and we can chose to not buy $250 dollar jerseys but would the league notice?
After all, the league’s fears weren’t about losing us fans but rather the possibility of losing their big American TV deal with NBC Sports. Our team pennant that we purchased at the one game we can afford to attend per year is simply small potatoes in comparison.
The fact of the matter is that fans are in a lose-lose situation with nothing to fight back with other than the personal choice to attend or not to attend live games. Since we buy into the league’s admittedly stellar product, we, in turn, enslave ourselves to their rich-people toils.
To be bleak, there are no longer any fans of the NHL, just addicted consumers looking for a fix of frozen-water gladiatorial games.
The economic reality of a billion-dollar business has sucked the life out of a once-vibrant fan base and there isn’t much we can do other then be nostalgic for the first game we remember attending.
So watch the NHL and move on. Because until the voiceless have a voice, the NHL will hold ransom not only the money in our pockets but the spirit of being a fan as well.