The Owners Have Been Exposed
Over the last year, there have been four lockouts in major professional sports.
Last year, the National Football League locked out its players, but were able to reach a collective bargaining agreement before any regular season games were lost.
The National Basketball Association's season was shortened from 82 games to a condensed schedule of 66 games beginning at Christmas, when the NBA typically begins in late October.
This year, the NFL locked its referees out, causing replacement officials to be utilized throughout the preseason and through the first three weeks of the regular season.
After much controversy, the league and the officials reached an agreement and the regular officials returned for the start of Week 4 action.
For the second time in under a decade, and the third time in the last 20 years, the National Hockey League has locked out its players and just yesterday, announced the canceling of all preseason games.
With the regular season set to begin on October 11th, regular season games are in serious peril.
Unlike a strike, where players or employees refuse to work, a lockout is where the owners or employers control the work stoppage.
So what's the reason for this epidemic of lockouts sweeping professional sports? Simple. Owners, as a whole, don't care about the fans. All they care about is making money.
I don't presume to know what it's like to have billions of dollars and own a professional sports team. Sure, all of us dream of it.
One would think that an owner of a pro sports team would be the biggest fan there is. After all, their livelihood is directly tied to the team's success.
To take that point even further, you would think that the owners would care about and respect the fans. After all, without the fans, owners make no money and it becomes a recreational league like one you or I easily could play in.
It is quite clear that the owners think of the fans as nothing more than sheep or cattle. We, the fans, who gladly spend our hard-earned money to go to games to watch the teams and players we love. We spend hundreds of dollars on jerseys, hats, and t-shirts, further lining owners' pockets with billions of dollars.
Now don't get me wrong, professional players are not without blame here as well. They are millionaires whose stubbornness and naivety is certainly a contributing factor to the stalemates at hand.
The fact of the matter however, is that in the case of the current NHL lockout, the players were willing to continue negotiations while playing the 2012-2013 season, but the owners, led by commissioner Gary Bettman, refused and subsequently locked out the players.
Bettman, the most hated man in hockey, will certainly try to spin this as what's necessary for the best interest of the game and the fans, but no one is fooled. How is this in the best interest of the fans?
In addition to sheep, they take us for fools as well.
In the recent blockbuster film, The Dark Knight Rises, one of the major themes throughout the movie is wealth inequality and class warfare.
Selina Kyle, the film's antihero tell billionaire Bruce Wayne, "There's a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches, because when it hits, you're all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us."
Now, we as fans certainly are not going to go to the extremes of comic book villains, but we do need to make sure our voices are heard by the owners and Commissioner Bettman. We need to demonstrate how much the game means to us, and that we want it back.
I am not talking about threatening to leave the game as fringe fans did in 2004, and surely will do this time around. Fan outcry and blown games forced the hand of the NFL to get a deal done with its referees, and we NHL fans must do the same if we want to see a North American product on the ice anytime soon.
So make your voices heard on Twitter, Facebook, email the league at NHL.com. Call the owner of your team! I can't guarantee this will solve anything, but I can guarantee that we fans will not rest until our game is back.
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