Hockey has never really been my favorite sport.
It's not that I don't find it interesting, or have respect for it. With the schedule that National Hockey League players have to undergo and with all of the grueling minutes they put in each every year, it would be very difficult not to find respect for the sport. But I've always just found it difficult to stop watching the NBA or the NFL long enough to pay much attention to the NHL.
Since I was a kid, a big portion of my life has revolved around sports, and I know there are a great deal of hockey fans in the world that are just like me. That is because no matter what ups and downs life brings, your team is always there. You always have the option of coming home to turn on the game, and escape from it all for at least four quarters, or three periods, or whatever game it is that you can call your own.
Lockouts have been a growing issue in the majority of American sports over the past two decades or so. The NFL had a scare two seasons ago. Last year, the NBA had a shortened season as a result of an extended lockout. And the NHL, which already lost an entire year due to an inability to agree in 2005, and a half season in 1994-95 finds itself in a bitter standstill once again.
Basketball is my game, always has been. And when the NBA was hanging in the balance last year, and it was uncertain whether or not a deal would get done, I was completely disgusted. This is the kind of thing that will keep a true sports fan up at night. What if there really isn't a season this year? What moves might be made in that time? Will my team trade anyone away? Would one of my favorite players be that much closer to the end of his career, all because someone wasn't willing to bend a little financially?
It is common knowledge that in professional sports, the athletes (even the not-so-good ones) make more than most of us will see in a lifetime in just one season. Well, the owners and administrators over those teams make more money than I would know what to do with in two lifetimes. And yet, a deal still cannot be reached by the NHL.
Although this extended lockout has lost both sides a lot of money, it has cost the fans of the game much more. The loss may not be one of monetary value, but in plenty households across this country, sports are a staple. It's how we unwind after a long day, and to take that away from us regardless of what the reason may be, it makes us angry. And as more and more days pass, it makes us not want to hear a word about it until a deal is actually done. It makes us not want to watch.
Never, ever, in all my years of writing, did I think I would find myself quoting Larry the Cable Guy. But, to Gary Bettman and the rest of the parties involved in this NHL lockout, I say, seriously guys: it's time to get 'er done. You just look selfish at this point, and people are starting to think you don't care about the league, or the game.
I may not be a huge hockey fan, but I know how passionate I get about my favorite sports. And I know there are many die-hard fans of the NHL that would rest a whole lot easier if they knew that tomorrow, they could watch their team play; even if it is just a 48-game season.
The most important thing right now is not revenue or luxury taxes or who makes more or less money. Not anymore. It's about losing the interest of the fans that make any league important; the ones who will always tune in, win or lose. Just some food for thought.