Professional sports leagues make millions of dollars each year. Everyone involved has to get paid, which can create problems. When players and owners disagree on the amount of money each side obtains it can create a lockout. The NHL is approaching this drastic scenario. Fans and players are handling the possible outcome differently.
Sidney Crosby, arguably the games biggest star, is reportedly considering playing overseas. Loyal hockey fans that accept the sport as a way of life are in disarray. The only way to cure the chaos is if the owners and players can agree on the various money issues lingering on both sides. The NHL’s American fan base will become even more vulnerable if the league is indulged in another lockout.
I understand both sides of the argument in this dispute. The NHL needs to realize that it’s competing with the NFL for the American television audience. When the NFL got locked out briefly in 2011, American sports fans became worried but continued to support the league because of its impact on their culture. Hockey has the same effect in some non-American countries. In other words, once the lockout is over international fans will still support the league.
Superstars willing to risk getting hurt overseas just to play during the lockout are sending a message to the league. Commissioner Gary Bettman needs to avoid the lockout by relocating teams back into major T.V. markets. If the NHL wants to stay relevant it needs to keep its American audience engaged.
Written By Sam Goldman
Follow Sam on Twitter: @206Since94