NHL lockout looms

By Lindsey Woods

For several months last year, many sports fans were nearly reduced to tears at the mention of a lockout. First, it was the ongoing collective bargaining that threatened the 2011 NFL season. It was the talk of the town. How could we live without our beloved football? Luckily, the crisis was averted and the season kicked off without delay.

Shortly after the NFL scare came the controversial and tense negotiations between professional basketball players and the NBA which effectively blocked the first two months of the regular season. The news of the negotiations was inescapable. If NBA Commissioner David Stern left the negotiating table to take a leak, it was the top story on Sports Center that night.

Now, another impending lockout threatens to leave fans, players and commissioners frustrated and seasonless. But the media coverage and general conversation about it has been glacial at best. The NHL is currently in labor talks with the NHL Player’s Association, and it isn’t going well. With the Sept. 15 deadline for a lockout looming, talks have failed to move past the philosophical stages, and the possibility of an NHL lockout is growing every day.

Remember, this is the same NHL and commissioner that in 2005 locked out an entire season in an unprecedented move that left fans angry and lost the NHL millions of dollars (although most players and administrators still found a way to get paid.) While the negotiators top priorities are different this time around, and the NHLPA has different leadership, the signs are all pointing toward lockout.

I am well aware that the NHL is the ugly stepsister of professional sports in the U.S. But in a town where the most recent championship came courtesy of the hometown hockey team, I would think people would be more upset. Major media outlets in Chicago and other hockey towns have been flagrantly ignoring the news, and I haven’t heard much about it from the spectator side either, aside from a few diehard fans.

Maybe people are sick of hearing about lockouts. Maybe people just don’t care about hockey. But the fact that all three major professional organizations have had or almost had a lockout in the past two years is something that deserves some ink. It is indicative of a major problem in the operation of the sports industry and a huge slight to fans everywhere. We, the fans, indirectly pay the salaries of everyone involved in big sports associations, so they should give a little more consideration to the consequences of cancellation. If they don’t, there may not be any money left to fight over.