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Hockey, a CBA and Two Sides of the Coin... - On the Field with a Feminine Flair
From the Dugout to the Sidelines
theballgirl
theballgirl
Hockey, a CBA and Two Sides of the Coin...
Hockey is in trouble. There is no denying that. Of the four "major" sports in the United States, hockey has the smallest fan base, the cheapest television contracts and the biggest financial difficulties I've ever seen. There are a whole lot of avid sports fans out there right now who barely even registered that the hockey season wasn't going on. I'll be perfectly honest, I'm a casual hockey fan. If the game is on and there isn't anything else to watch, yeah I'll watch it, but it doesn't happen often. I watch the Stanley Cup finals, because the level of pressure is just so much higher during that series, it makes for a more interesting game. Hockey fans would be fooling themselves however if they didn't acknowledge that there are some serious flaws in the sport, both on and off the ice.

First of all, I'm disappointed that the season was cancelled. Not beause I'll particularly miss hockey, but because it's sad that the two sides couldn't come to an agreement when they had plenty of time and opportunities to do so. I have to side with the players on this, on principle. Hockey is in trouble financially because of the owners. Owners aren't making any money because a select few have jacked up the price of players over the years, thus jacking up payrolls over the years and making it very hard for most organizations to make a profit or break even at the end of every season. The revenue in the sport just isn't there the way it is in sports like basketball, baseball and football. The TV rights to the games certainly aren't comparable in cost and neither are advertising rights. Running a hockey team is not the same as running a team in the other three majors. An owner can't depend on his revenue to pay his players salaries.

So...here we all are...the owners want to install a salary cap, the players didn't want one. Well, DUH. The reason the salaries were so high wasn't because of the players, it was because of the owners. The owners created the financial problems in the sport and now they were asking the players to bail them out after their own stupidity and short sightedness got them into this mess in the first place. If I were part of the players association I wouldn't want a salary cap either. I'll be honest. I'm biased. I wouldn't side with the owners under any circumstances, in any sport. Let's see...who would I rather have the money, Jim Dolan or Mark Messier? George Steinbrenner or Derek Jeter? The choice is not a difficult one to make.

That being said, it was obvious that the negotiations weren't going to come to a conclusion unless the players relented and allowed for a salary cap. The problem was, they didn't back off soon enough. They thought they owners were bluffing and the owners, dirty bastards that they are, weren't. The players and their represetation should have recognized that earlier and given in, because it doesn't matter to the owners whether or not the season was played, in fact some of peopl would rather the season was cancelled given that they lose money during the season.

Enough financial crap. Hockey is in trouble for other reasons too. Let's face it. Hockey is dealthy boring on television. It's beyond exciting live. On TV however, it's dull as shit and hockey doesn't have a large enough fan base here in the states to support itself solely on ticket sales and crappy television rights. So, what do you do when your sport is floundering? Very simple. The best defense is a good offense. It applies in war and it most certainly applies in professional sports. What did baseball do when the games got too long and too low scoring? They tightened the laces on the ball, they built smaller ballparks and they lowered the mound a few inches. WAM! Literally. Offense went on a surge and so did the interest in the game. In fact interest was so high that pretty much everyone ignored the obvious steriod problem in the sport for over a decade. That's what hockey needs to do and I don't mean ignore steroids mind you. They need to open up the game, let the fantastic skaters they have on the ice skate. Get rid of the red lines, get rid of icing, move the defenders off the net, get rid of that slow grinding pace hockey games have now and speed it up. You have some of the most incredible athletes in the world on that ice, let them show it. It needs to be more exciting for the fans at home. You up your audience at home, you up your cable deals, you increase revenue, it's as simple as that. At this point you have ESPN saying it might not renew it's deal with the NHL because ratings were crap last year and no one cares about hockey anymore. Well ratings were crap last year, but I do think people still care about hockey and if they don't bloody well MAKE them care.

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