Friday, 10 August 2012

NHL Lockout Coming! Players Blamed By Uninformed Fans!

Dear uninformed hockey fan:
I don't object when you say that the NHL owners had every legal right to opt out of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement they signed a scant seven years ago and which was scheduled to run for another five years.  I even tolerate that they're asking for more concessions after obtaining from the players a hard salary cap, which even they described as 'cost certainty' in the last round of propaganda, as well as getting a 24% wage rollback. 
What I do object is the notion among some fans that the players are equally to blame for the near-certain lockout due for September 15, or that both sides are being rotten to the fans by depriving them of hockey. This lockout is being brought to you by the owners. They’re the ones who will provoke this work stoppage. When the buses stop running you can blame the drivers for the strike, but here you can’t blame the players, they’re not striking. They’re being locked out of their workplace by the owners.
I object to the worse notion that it’s the players’ fault because they’re too greedy, and should be happy to have a job given to them by the benevolent owners. The players are the product we crave, the reason we buy the tickets. The owners didn’t come up with the concept for the game of hockey, they didn’t invent ice. They’re not irreplaceable in the scheme of things. Substitute one billionaire for another as the owner for every team and we’d still enjoy the games and seasons just as much.
The values and emotions and memories associated with the bleu blanc rouge and the other jerseys in the NHL aren’t a welcome product of the owners, a gizmo they make that we want like an IPad or an affordable flight to Mexico. At best the owners were benevolent and at worst served as the great villains in the history of the NHL, about which Allison Griffiths and David Cruise wrote a book called “Net Worth” which I highly recommend. No, the values imbued into the jerseys and the teams comes from the players who gave their all for generations, and from the fans.  You and I are the reason the franchises are valuable. We’ve invested ourselves emotionally in the Canadiens and Toronto fans have done so for the Leafs, that’s why those teams are so valuable. All the owners do is inject themselves in this holy transaction and charge an overly large commission.
Think about where the League is headed, and does it spontaneously collapse if the owners walked away from the franchise? No, their contribution can easily be replaced. The NHL could easily operate with no negative effect to the fans on 10% of its current budget. The owners have erected a house of cards, and now point to some of the flimsier sections as reasons to gouge fans more and to charge an even greater commission.
North American society has been so beaten down by its kleptocratic overlords that its citizens have become afraid to assert themselves. So we get people who work crappy jobs for billion dollar corporations like Wal-Mart and McDonald’s and instead of thinking “Look at those nurses and teachers and government workers and hockey players, they make a pile of money, maybe we should set up a union and get better wages and benefits from our employers through collective bargaining”, we think “Why do those guys have it so good while my conditions suck? Let’s knock those other guys down a peg or three.”

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