lockout

Seriously, Shut the Fu%k Up

I'm in a weird place with the lockout right now in the sense that, well, I don't care yet.  Some of that is just a reflection of where I was with hockey already.  For whatever reason, by the end of last season I was ready for the Sabres to go away for a while.  Those of you who follow me on Twitter might recall that I ended up muting things like "Darcy" and "Lindy" and "Sabres" and "NHL."  I'd just hit my saturation point, I think, and wanted to not have to engage in hockey conversation all day every day.  I didn't even believe we'd really get to a lockout because, hey, the NHL is doing pretty well right now, right?  Heh.  Whoops.  Some of my disengagement is just my personality.  I've never been one to be particularly outraged or depressed by sports (though the Pirates are certainly testing that lately). 

And part of it is just the circumstances of my life right now.  Between school, work, and family commitments, I don't have time to miss hockey.  I was barely watching hockey last season as it was just because of my chaotic schedule.



That said, I've always found the behind-the-scenes part of sports to be really fascinating so I am paying attention.  Congratulations, NHLPA.  Judging by my Twitter timeline and real-life discussions, most fans are in your corner.  We realize that you guys made the biggest sacrifices during the last negotiations, and we realize the owners pretty much got the system they wanted.  We understand that if the system hasn't worked, it's pretty much their fault.  They could NOT be idiots if their lives depended on it.  I mean, what, are you guys supposed to turn down 10-year, multi-million-dollar contracts because it might be bad for their business?  Heck, no.  We've noticed that, even in the midst of crying poor, certain teams couldn't stop themselves from handing out some pretty heavy contracts.  We know that splitting the revenue between players and teams in a different way isn't going to solve the primary problem which seems to be a divide between high revenue teams and low revenue teams.  We're on your side!  Yay!



Now shut up.  



Look, I get the desire to get your side out there.  I get wanting people to sympathize with you.  I understand how easy it is now with social media to reach out to fans directly.  Just… don't.  Don't do it.  Don't do it, don't do it, don't do it.  Nothing good has ever come from professional athletes talking to fans about things like money and power and nothing ever will.  It's just too complicated a situation and your lives are just too far removed from ours.  Understanding and sympathizing are two really different things.  I'll give you the first, but it's awfully hard to get to the second.



A couple of weeks ago, Paul Bissonnette tweeted this: 



Question to the fans. If a company you worked for was making money and they asked you to take a 24% pay cut would you do it?


There's nothing inherently offensive about that tweet and the obvious response is, "No, Paul Bissonnette, I would not do that."  But here's what else I did when I saw that tweet.  I looked up Bissonnette's salary for last season and saw a, by NHL standards, pretty low number of $625,000.  I cut 25% off of that.  I came up with a number that would have taken me 26.6 years at my last full-time job to reach.  Let me repeat that.  In one year, Bissonnette made what I would have made in 26.6 years.  I fully admit that that's not a fair way to look at the situation at all.  How much players make compared to me isn't the issue here.  But that's the way it is.  Fair or not, players need to be aware that many fans are just going to see their salaries and roll their eyes at even a hint of a woe is me attitude.

As I was writing this, Krys Barch wrote a very long string of tweets about the lockout.  Puck Daddy collected the whole thing in an easy-to-read format here.  It's clearly heartfelt, if not at least partly alcohol-fueled, and I do appreciate that but again, I'm not getting to sympathy.  The NHL is extremely physically demanding and that's been very true for Barch.  I get that.  But players are also aware of those risks, get first-class medical attention, and are very well compensated.  I don't doubt that more players than we realize go on to other jobs after they retire, but I'm not moved by that at all.  One half to three-fourths of your peers will work for the next fifty years, Krys?  Well, la-di-freaking-da.  My mom raised 4 kids alone.  She didn't worry about getting ahead, she worried about keeping the power on every month.  She's a stone's throw from 70 and not anywhere near retirement.  Most of us out here in the stands will work into old age.  
 
I get that this is an emotional time for players.  They've been playing hockey since they could walk and now, when everything says hockey should be starting, it's not.  It's weird, I know.  They're potentially losing a year out of what will, for most, already be a short career.  But come on guys, try to have a little sense of the world around you.  You were already making a lot of money and player salaries have climbed over the last seven years in a way that none of our salaries have.  To you, there may be a big difference between you and the owners but from where I'm sitting you look the same.  You're wondering if Ted Leonsis is enjoying his vacation in one of his five homes, and I'm wondering why you can't get your family of almost four ahead on the 2.8 million you've already made.  I've known too many people who've been out of work over the last few years to be very moved by emotional appeals from players.  I had a friend whose husband was out of work for almost a year and a half and when their oldest child broke his arm it created a financial nightmare.  Most NHLers in that situation can write a check and call it a day.  And if they can't, I might feel even less sorry for them because they should probably be able to even at the NHL minimum.  
 
Social media can be an amazing tool, but I'm telling you, using it to release all your emotions about the lockout is a bad idea.  Using it to try to win fans' sympathy is a bad idea.  All you're going to do is turn off people who I think are mostly with you.  Put Twitter down and try to enjoy the fact that you have some extra time to play golf and hang out with your kids or that you can go play hockey at home for a while.  We'll be here when you get back but for now, man, I don't want to hear it.
Joe

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