Monday, September 3, 2012

The NHL will lock out, and they don't care about you or me

I was heavily debating what to write about on here regarding the inevitable 2012 NHL lockout.  I thought about discussing who is to blame and why they're even negotiating a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in the first place, but every other blogger and beat writer has already tackled that, so I won't bother.  For most of you, none of what you're about to read will be breaking news, but for those who don't know, maybe this will be a little bit helpful.  If not, I've wasted 15 minutes of my day.  Oh well.

Instead of any of that, I've decided to write a brief piece directed towards fellow hockey fans.  Obviously, every hockey fan is disappointed that in all likelihood, at least part of the 2012-13 NHL season will be lost to the lockout.  Unfortunately, there is absolutely nothing we, as fans, can do to get the NHL and NHLPA to work out a deal.  It's just not going to happen, no matter what we try to do.

Recently, many hockey fans have been taking to Twitter and other social media outlets with hashtags and other pleas directed at the league in the hopes of making a statement to the NHL that fans don't want another lockout.  The bitter reality, though, is that doing these kinds of things is hopelessly pointless.  The important thing to remember is that NHL owners and league management know how passionate hockey fans are, and they know that regardless of how many fans threaten to boycott the NHL, fans will come back after the lockout, and business will resume as usual.  And even if the league loses a few thousand fans, they can compensate for them rather easily.

The reason fans have no voice is that all professional sports are businesses first.  Last year, the NHL reportedly set a new league record, bringing in $3.2 billion in revenue.  Since the last lockout in 2005, ticket prices for fans has skyrocketed, sponsorship revenue has increased and TV ratings have gone up.  The result of this has been a dramatic rise in the value of every single NHL franchise.

Knowing this, the NHL and NHLPA must now try to figure out how to divide that $3.2 billion in revenue.  You can imagine, then, that neither side really cares what fans think of them.  They'll have the final laugh, as usual.  After all, they're willing to risk an entire season just to make sure each side maximizes its income.  But that's perfectly understandable in the business world, so it shouldn't really surprise anyone.  Everyone is greedy and everyone wants to make money.  The reward of this additional money outweighs the risk of losing games.  It's that simple.

Gary Bettman can stand up and say that the NHL has the best fans in the world, and he is right.  Hockey fans are incredible.  Unfortunately, that means absolutely nothing when it comes to negotiating a Collective Bargaining Agreement.  Whether we like to accept it or not, the NHL doesn't care about its fans at all, nor does any other pro sport.  Bettman, as commissioner, works for the owners, not for the players and certainly not for the fans.  His job is to make the owners money, and that's why NHL owners love Bettman and re-signed him last year.  Most major established corporations function that way.  They exist only to maximize their profit.  That's how macroeconomics work.  If they didn't try to make every penny they could, they'd be making bad business decisions.

So, don't get your hopes up when you participate in a Twitter hashtag begging the NHL's Twitter account to end the lockout.  They don't care about you or me.  Just hope that a new CBA will be worked out as soon as possible and we'll have a season at some point.  Don't stress or complain about the lockout.  It's going to happen the same way, whether we're happy or not.  Until then, ignore the NHL and the nonsense that goes on at CBA negotiations.

Just one thing, though...the NBA is not an acceptable replacement to fill your TV void this fall in the absence of hockey.