I LOVE hockey. I’m not ashamed to say that of all four major professional sports in this country, hockey Indian-wrestles baseball as my second favorite behind football. I love my Washington Capitals, and as my dad before me, I have raised my son to Rock the Red when the calendar turns to October and the NHL season gets underway.
One of the coolest nights of my life took place a little more then a year ago when the first Baltimore Hockey Classic came to the First Mariner Arena. Seeing a chance for a once in a lifetime chance, I purchased 3 tickets. One for me, my son, and my father. Three generations under the roof of the same arena where I can remember going to many a Skipjacks games with my father and grandfather. It was a night that Dad and I could share with Dylan, our love for hockey, and our love of the Caps. Dylan was sitting four rows from his favorite player of all time, Alex Ovechkin, in his own red #8 Ovie jersey. It was a magical night.
Fast forward a year and a month and here we sit on November 3rd. Without hockey. Without the Caps. And as of now, without hope. It really has come to this in professional sports in America. Every year, it seems, we go through this with of the four major sports in this country. A work stoppage. A threat of a work stoppage. Greedy owners wanting more from greedy players, and vice versa. I don’t profess to being an expert at the business side of pro sports, and to be quite honest, part of me doesn’t care. Part of me just wants to flip on the TV on a Saturday night in November and watch my Capitals lace em up against Columbus. Just playthe damned game. And of the four major sports, it seems to me that the NHL is the one who can least afford to have a significant work stoppage. It’s hard enough for the league to draw fans to 82 games a year. And here’s another sad fact. It’s November, and the NHL has yet to begin….but has anyone noticed??
This is why, I think, professional sports really needs to get it’s head out of their collective rear ends. We live in a world where gas is pushing $4.00 a gallon, unemployment is closing in on 10%, our chosen “leaders” who we have voted into office can’t agree on what color the sky is, and every few months some natural disaster slaps a certain part of the country to remind us that we really aren’t in control of anything. And yet, our biggest diversion, our biggest escape from the reality that the real world sucks, sports, can’t seem to get out of their own way. Millionaires arguing with millionaires over millions of dollars.
Look, I know the average NHL player doesn’t garner the same contract that athletes in the other three pro sports do, but I’ve also never heard of an NHL player having to pickup summer employment to pay the mortgage, or make a car payment. These guys make a pretty good living. They’re pro athletes after all. But the one thing these clowns in all the pro sports haven’t quite realized is…we really don’t need them. We don’t. We need police officers. We need firefighters. We need teachers, and doctors, and nurses, and soldiers. But pro athletes? Let me ask you something, has the world stopped turning beacuse the Washington Capitals haven’t played a single game yet? No. Would the world have stopped last year if the NFL had not worked out an agreement and we spent the winter without the Baltimore Ravens? Nope. How about if the NBA…well, let’s face it, the NBA sucks, so once again, Nope.
Somehow, the sun would have still come up the next morning. We would’ve all still had to get up and go to work, and put in a solid 8, 10, 12, 16 hours for a great deal less then what these athletes are pulling in. Which is why these labor stoppages are stupid. Because these idiots, at some point, have lost touch with reality, and forgotten the simple fact, that we don’t need them. And that they make a HELL of a lot more money then most of the people who come out by the tens of thousands to support them. And, by the way, as I hear all the time, pay their salary.
The point here is simple. My message to the NHL is clear. Shut up, stop crying, and get back to work. Or don’t. Hell, I don’t care. But I’m tired of hearing the whining.