NFL Lockout Through the Eyes of an NHL Fan, and What It Means for Hockey

Franklin Steele@FranklinSteeleAnalyst IIApril 22, 2011

Hockey fans missed out on AO's true rookie season thanks to the Lockout.
Hockey fans missed out on AO's true rookie season thanks to the Lockout.Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The overused saying goes that all press is good press.

Whoever said that must not have been a sports fan—at least not a fan of the numerous Leagues that have locked out in recent memory.  Perhaps the guy was more into horse racing.  Because this is bad for business, and it is worse on a league's image.

No one knows that better than NHL hockey fans.

(Those interested in learning a little more about the current NFL lockout should check out this slideshow from our own Andrew Maisonneuve.)

What the League and Players Associations fail to recognize or care about is the effect that arguing over dollars (albeit a lot of dollars) has on the people.

And by the people, I mean...

The fans who buy the jerseys and go to the games and buy over priced everything. 

The workers who count on 41 home games, because those home games mean a pay check for them and their families.

The guys that live for Hockey Night In Canada.  Or in the NFL's case, football and Bud Light at their local Buffalo Wild Wings every Sunday.

It seems like the only people who benefit from lockouts are the misunderstanding wives and girlfriends who feel so ignored once the puck drops or the ball is snapped.  They take it personally when they feel ignored and neglected over a game.  And as sports fans, lets set the record strait. 

So do we.

We take it personally when the League we spend hard earned green on locks out over the money we line their pockets with in the first place.

We take it personally when the League we spend so much energy on can't peel themselves off of their yachts to have a meeting once a week to try and solve these problems.

We take it personally when the League we spend so much time on can't be bothered to do anything besides volley insults towards each other while we log onto our favorite sports website praying for a conclusion. That one individual inside those large, spacious meeting rooms stood up and said something to inspire the sides to meet.

Before the Stanley Cup isn't awarded for the first time since 1919—since before your dad's dad's dad was alive.  Or there isn't a Super Bowl. How does the thought of that not turn the collective stomachs of the owners and players more than the thought of "losing" money?

My message to football fans:  I feel you.

All of us who sincerely love their sport, and have lost a season or a portion of one does.  But that doesn't mean there are no positives—perhaps selfish ones—to be found here.  I'm not rooting for it to happen.  I would never wish a seasonless season upon anyone.

But an NFL lockout to an NHL fan means the same thing that the NHL lockout meant to professional Texas Hold 'em fans.

And that is more exposure.

Sportscenter has to fill its constant news cycle with something.  The continuously swirling world of sports coverage has to fill the headlines with news and highlights of some kind.  Hockey could take a part of that and continue to grow.  Hockey could fill that void a bit.  Perhaps the game could fill a bit of the void left in football fans during the football-less weeks.  Is it so crazy to think the a Bears fan would have a ball at a Blackhawks game?

That's kind of a gross way to look at it.  By seeing what there is to gain in loss.  But I am just as aggravated by the NFL's selfishness as I was with the NHL's.  The League has no one to blame but itself.  Nor do the players. 

As always, the ones getting lost in the shuffle are the fans.

Maybe the NFL manages to right the ship and save the season.  Most accounts, for whatever reason, claim that both sides are confident there will be football at some point.  Either way the damage is done, and we as fans can't help but suddenly feel a disconnect between us and the players we thought played for the fans every night.

This is the ultimate cost of labor disputes in sports.  The loss of kinship.  No one knows this better than hockey fans, indeed.