So you want to organize an NHL boycott? Stick it to the owners by not supporting their league and their personal businesses? Send a clear message to Gary Bettman that if there is no season, we will not be here when you come back!?
If you go on the internet this is all you will see. Web sites made specifically for this, Twitter accounts, message board ramblings. The hockey world is alive with the cry of “FANS UNITE!”.
Good idea, I stand behind you 100%. Let’s call out to all hockey fans in each corner of the world like Aquaman calling his sea creatures. A scenario like this would be amazing, but sadly, it won’t work.
The Pittsburgh Pirates appear to be at the end of the worst losing streak in the history of professional sports. During the height of this historic ineptitude, the team’s owner, Bob Nutting was putting on a clinic for poor sports management. It was apparent that his main focus was the bottom line, rather than putting a quality product on the field.
Nutting and Co. created promotions like Fireworks Night, and the all you can eat sections. He knew that no matter how bad the team, people would still pay to enjoy a night at the park. A new, taxpayer bought park I might add.
The fans despised the way their team was being destroyed. Radio talk shows were flooded with calls asking “why doesn’t somebody take a stand.”
Talk show hosts criticized, rallies were held, it was a fan base of frustration and disbelief. An entire generation had gone by without a winning season. I was personally 11 years old when the Barry Bonds led Pirates were ousted by the Braves in the NLCS. I am now 31 and we haven’t seen a winning season since.
After years of big profit and player moves that were made solely for financial reasons, someone got a bright idea! Boycott!
It was heavily publicized, on the radio, TV, newspapers, wherever you went people were talking about it. The plan went that during a certain game, during a certain point of that game, this group wanted EVERYONE in the ball park to get up and walk out. This would send a message to Bob Nutting. “You can’t have our money anymore”! Nutting would be shaken to the core and immediately go out and trade for A-Rod, Albert Pujols, Derek Jeter, and Ichiro. The plan couldn’t fail.
Everyone in Pittsburgh knew when this was to take place. Game day came and everyone in the city held their breath, waiting for the moment when the fans finally took a stand to save their beloved Bucco’s. The inning approached and fans and reporters alike were focused on PNC Park to see what would transpire.
Then it happened!!!!
Ten people got up and walked out. The other ten thousand plus stayed and watched their team lose and then enjoyed the fireworks after.
Despite their noble plan, the cash registers still rang, and the team continued to lose.
The moral of this story is that no matter the plan, people will return. Nobody is going to walk out and Bettman knows it. This isn’t taxation without representation, it’s a game. If that game isn’t played, yes we are sad, but life goes on.
Another factor is that this isn’t the NFL, as much as I love the game, in many people’s eyes it’s a borderline niche sport.
Hockey has one of the most loyal, dedicated, and knowledgeable fan bases in all of sports, but ask the average American who the Stanley Cup Playoff MVP was last year and most could not tell you, but they could most likely rattle off all of the commercials they have seen Tom Brady in.
ESPN has greatly added to the NHL’s lack of credibility in America. A typical Sports Center broadcast might sound like this. “Today we have round the clock coverage of Aaron Rodgers hang nail, and thoughts on what LeBron James had for dinner last night. Oh by the way the L.A. Kings won the Stanley Cup. Moving on……”
The NHL and NHLPA need to focus on growing the game and its fanbase to generate more revenue, rather then to squabble over the piece of pie they have now.
This pie would have you believe that they will take a stand if there is no hockey in 2012-13, but I have my doubts.
If 19 years of futility for one of the most storied franchises in Americas Pastime, does not inspire action among its fans, what will?
Until next time…..
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