Thursday, February 17, 2005

Reality show fantasy

Babble on.

My Chief Barrie Correspondent (whose aboriginal name is Butt Breaks Bus Windows) has pointed me to this little piece of reality show fantasy on CBC's website:

Trump: Gary, Bob, you guys know why you've been brought to the boardroom, right? The NHL is one of the top brands in all of sports. There are hockey fans everywhere. But a $2-billion industry is in jeopardy because you two can't find a way to divide the pie.

(Gary and Bob sit quietly. Gary is leaning over the table, his weight bearing down on the mahogany slab. Bob leans back in his chair.)

Trump: If you ask me, that's some awful leadership. Both of you performed horribly in this task.

The ending is predictable - and a lot less severe than most hockey fans would have done in The Donald's place - but it's still a funny read overall.

This has been talked to death, and by people much more well-informed and passionate about NHL hockey than I am. But I'll add my two cents anyhow.

I'm OK with the players bargaining hard to get the best deal they can for themselves and their families. And I'm OK with the owners trying to set up a system that allows them to run their businesses profitably. As a result, I'm also OK with both sides losing hundreds of millions of dollars by bargaining hard: their gamble, their loss.

What bothers me about this - and it's something I don't think we hear enough about - are all the non-combatants getting caught in the crossfire between the league and its players. I'm talking about the folks who sell tickets, or take you to your seats, or get you your popcorn and soft drink at the concession stand.

Hockey fans understand that when big boys play a fast and tough game, one team wins and the other team loses. Injuries are bound to happen too. But imagine an NHL hockey game going on full-pace with thirty toddlers wandering around on the ice. The NHL and the NHLPA are playing that game right now, and the ordinary folks who rely on hockey for their non-millionaire livelihood are the innocents caught on the ice.

How many of them have to go down in a pool of blood before the two sides come to their senses and call off this reckless game they're playing?

Babble off.


At 2:16 p.m., Blogger Andrew said...

Another group that has been hit hard by the lockout is charities. How many millions of dollars is plowed into deserving charities every year by hockey teams, owners and players? Tonnes - and they're not getting a cent this year......

At 4:12 p.m., Blogger MB said...

Sorry but I can't agree on this point.

Are you saying the NHL and NHLPA have some responsibility to these people?

Look where this argument takes you.

Nothing is stopping these people from finding another job, bringing in other events, getting money from other places.

Does hockey exist to support charities?

At 4:58 p.m., Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

MB, the NHL and NHLPA have no more responsibility to the 'little people' than any other employer and co-worker respectively. That's not my point.

What I'm getting at is that all the moral outrage seems to be centred on what the owners are doing to the players, or what the players are doing to the fans, or what the whole bunch of them are doing to the game or the country. If you're going to get outraged over anything about this work stoppage, get outraged over the fact that people who have no quarrel with either the owners or the players are getting hit hardest by the cancellation of play.

I have a lot more sympathy for an usher who has to find another job than I do for some spoiled fan who won't lower himself to watching a junior or minor-league game; or for a multi-millionaire player who badmouths an even wealthier owner for negotiating in bad faith; or for any other party in this whole dispute for that matter.

At 9:17 a.m., Blogger Ian said...

Another group to consider is all those foreign hockey players who have lost their jobs as NHLer's have gone overseas...

How would the NHLer's like it if someone who was on strike back home came over here and took their jobs!

At 9:33 a.m., Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

The thing about sports teams, Ian, is that there are always going to be players who make the cut one year, and for whatever reason, don't make it the next year. For a minor-leaguer or European-leaguer to say an NHLer took their job is like me whining that a more competent guy at the office got promoted and I didn't. That's the nature of the business - the best players make the team, and you don't have any guarantees you'll be one of the best players from year to year.

Having said that, I can understand some frustration on the part of the players cut because the way it normally works is that every player plays in the best league they can, for the most money they can. These NHLers are playing for less than they'd make if they'd accepted the owners' very first offer.

So I can see a journeyman guy saying to an NHL big-shot: "You won't play for $8M a season in the NHL, and it's not like you're hurting for cash, but you'll live across an ocean from your family to play for $200K here and bump me from my $40K spot on the fourth line."

The NHL guy has another option - a better option - for playing hockey. The journeyman doesn't.


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