Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Angry Opinion Piece 1 - The Lockout

Before I start let's clarify something important first: 

1) It is NOT okay to call the President of The United States horrible rasist names because he was so "impertinent" to hold his speach in Newtown on a Sunday - in the holy hour of god foodball.
Pro tip: That is a) never okay b) disgusting c) merciless.

And it is not that I do not like football. I do - a lot. 

2) Is it then in sad times like this in general okay to talk and discuss passionatly something so relatively unimportant like hockey (replace with any professional sports of your choice)?  YES, in my opinion it is and I will explain you why:

I went through really rough times in my life. I had to watch helplessly how cancer killed both of my parents long before they could get old. There were very dark hours and that is when distraction is needed. Somethingelse you can put your focus on, something that you love and that lifts your spirit for a little while. It does not mean you "forget" anything or that anything is less horrible, but you can escape for a short moment and rest your soul. This short breaks from the fight help you to get up again and face what you need to face. And that is what hockey means for many of its passionate fans and this is why it is important although it is - just a game


The current unresolved labor dispute between the NHL (owners) and the NHLPA (players) and the ongoing lockout make me really, really, really angry and sad and it is time to list why.
BOTH organizations built together an succesful, popular, multi billion $ business of a league but now act incredibily irresponsible with risking to lose a full season - the second in less than a decade - and much more than that. 


And here is is why:
  • While both parties discuss how to best share millions of dollars thousands of people lose their jobs. The clubs themselves might still protect their direct employees, but the majority of people working around the NHL are not staff of the clubs.  They work in the parking lots, the cleaning company, the catering service, the gift shop. They are the waitresses in the bars next door of the venue or set up the guest rooms in the now mostly empty hotel around the corner. Those people are are in trouble, existential trouble and can forget about a festive Christmas.
    The business owners - the small local ones we all appreciate so much - still had to fight hard to catch up on lost revenue from the last lockout and suffer now badly from the recent one. A lot of them need to fix the holes with expensive loans on their businesses and private homes, cut back on staff and investment and not a small number of them had to give up or will need to give up soon.
    Alone in Pittsburgh every cancelled home game costs 1.2 - 2 million $ of local business revenue. And that does not even count in the millions of tax $ lost and / or frozen in billion $ high end arenas being mostly empty now.
  • The fans deserve better. I wrote already above what hockey means for the fans. In many of the NHL cities the hockey club is part of the local identity. The fans are the ones, who make this league valuable. If they would not pay for tickets, buy jerseys and switch on the TV every time their team is on this league would be worth NOTHING. Treat the people who pay for your million $ incomes with respect, gentlemen, and deliver your product.
  • Talent is wasted. Hockey is an intense sport and the professional players only have a relatively short career (one reason why they fight for their share with this intensity). As long as the lockout is in place this talent is wasted. The players lose a relevant piece of the time they can play in the NHL, they cannot make use of what they got and have fought for - like for example Sidney Crosby coming back from his injuries. Young players are limited in their development possibilties, older ones at the end of their career maybe lose the last games they could play.
  • The sport is damaged significantly for way longer than this lockout is in place. This is probably the point I understand least. Why would you bite the hand that feeds you? Fact is with a 2nd lockout in less than 10 years the NHL is losing value every day. Sponsoring partners and TV stations step back. Who would pay that much money to such an unreliable partner?  While the parties are busy discussing shares the actual share dissapears in thin air - day by day a little more. 

I understand that each side has its points, but that's life. If it is at work, in a marriage, a friendship, business or politics - standing in your corner and blaming the other for playing foul does not help. The key to success is compromise from BOTH sides. This is NOT about winning. 

And that's why I say it with my favorite Pirate AJ Burnett (and I am not ***ing):

SIT THE FUCK DOWN


.... and figure it out. NOW!  

It is almost too late already. 

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