Jordan Bean | Sacked
Published: Monday, October 15, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 15, 2012 08:10
A quarter of a billion dollars. That is how much estimated money the NHL is losing from cancelling its pre-season and the first two weeks of the regular season.
Now it would be easy for me to sit here and write about what a terrible thing it is for the NHL to be on lockout, how they should make a deal right away, etc. There’s only one problem.
I’m not a fan of the NHL.
I don’t watch regular-season games, root for a specific team and can’t even name you more than the superstars like Ovechkin or Crosby.
This is why I’m perfectly qualified to write a column on the NHL lockout.
In terms of the NHL, I’m what you could call a casual fan. I tune in for the playoffs because, as a sports fan, I enjoy the atmosphere that playoff hockey presents, but that’s about it.
I’m the type of fan that hockey can’t afford to lose. The diehards will stick with the game through thick and thin, through lockout or no lockout. Diehards don’t pay the bills. That money comes from the casual fan.
Does a strike guarantee that a league will weaken? Not necessarily, but in the case of the NHL they cannot expect to enjoy the same luxury that the NFL did after their lockout.
The National Football League didn’t skip a beat after its short-lived lockout because the sport is exciting enough for the casual fan to keep watching.
During the NFL lockout, I felt as though the world might end if no deal was reached because of all the media coverage it was given.
ESPN personally made it their job to ensure that us sports fans got every ounce of information there was to know.
What was Tim Tebow having for breakfast that day? How did what he was eating relate to the progress made between the NFLPA and owners? Okay, so maybe not that far — but just about.
What about the NHL lockout coverage? It’s everywhere, right? On every front page and media outlet?
Well, no. To the casual fan, this is a non-story.
This isn’t the first time that the NHL has gone through a lockout. There was the 1992 strike, which saw 30 games cancelled. In 1994-’95, only 48 regular season games were played and in 2004-05 the entire season was wiped out.
Each succeeding strike brought less and less popularity to the game. At the beginning of the 1990s, the NHL and Major League Baseball rivaled each other for most popular sport in the country.
Hockey ranks behind the NFL, NBA, MLB, NCAA Football, NCAA basketball and, last but not least, NASCAR. They rank just ahead of powerhouses MLS, WWE and the WNBA.
This is an economics challenge and the numbers are not on the side of the NHL. For the sake of keeping the casual fan, it’s vital that they get a deal done now.
The players still want 57 percent of the gross revenue like old times. The problem is that the leftover money is no longer enough to pay the bills. It doesn’t take an economics major to figure out that these numbers don’t work.
The fact is that the National Hockey League is not popular enough to go through another strike for any amount of time. Most sports-viewing Americans simply do not care enough about hockey to be affected if no deal is reached, like they were when the threat of no NFL season loomed large.
The NHL players and owners have to realize their faults and make a deal before it is too late. Off-the-ice teamwork is necessary for this to happen, but until then, NHL — you’re sacked!
Jordan Bean is a freshman who has yet to declare a major. He can be reached at Jordan.Bean@tufts.edu.