Passion vs. Money: the NHL in Despair

In life, there’s a blatant difference between doing your job because you love it and just doing it to take the paychecks home to your loved ones. Then again, you can also combine passion and money. It can, of course, lead to either positive or negative circumstances (e.g. conning and scamming people out of greed and loving it in the process). But, in this column, I’m going talk about passion and money in a more personal perspective.

For those of you who don’t already know — and there might be quite a bit of you who don’t, since I don’t expose this side of me a lot when blogging — I’m a die-hard San Jose Sharks fan, but more importantly, I love ice hockey. I love everything about the sport. However, the one thing I don’t like is the fact that there is a lockout this season because they haven’t reached a new CBA deal. For those of you who don’t follow sports and have no idea what the heck I’m talking about, don’t panic. I may not be the smartest math and economics wiz out there, but I will try my best to explain the situation in Layman’s terms (or simple terms).

What is a CBA? 

CBA stands for Collective Bargaining Agreement. Every popular professional sport has to have a CBA in place for a new season.

So your favorite sport is locking out. What’s the big deal?

Yes, I apologize for not getting into detail about ice hockey. I don’t know about basketball or the other popular sports, but ice hockey has a variety of leagues (the American Hockey League and East Coast Hockey League, just to name a few). The lockout is affecting major league hockey, which is the National Hockey League. Like the NBA (which lost a good chunk of its season in a lockout last year), the NHL has two sides: the owners (the billionaires that own the teams) and the players’ union (NHLPA, or the people who play hockey and sign million-dollar contracts with the teams). In essence, with the expiration of the old CBA, the owners have refused to let the players play in their own stadiums, even though the NHLPA have said “We should still play hockey under the old CBA terms while we work a new one”)

Before we go more in-depth, we need to know another term. That’s hockey-related revenue.

As the Sports Illustrated blog (http://nhl-red-light.si.com/2012/08/08/what-is-hockey-related-revenue/) so nicely quotes straight out of the actual CBA itself,

… it’s the money “derived or earned from, relating to or arising directly or indirectly out of the playing of NHL hockey games or NHL-related events in which current NHL Players participate or in which current NHL Players’ names and likenesses are used, by each such Club or the League, or attributable directly to the Club or the League from a Club Affiliated Entity or League Affiliated Entity…”

Essentially, it includes every penny earned from regular season, playoff, and preseason games, and special venues (such as the NHL Winter Classic, an annual-outdoor event), broadcasting networks, individual team sites… everything you can name. By the way, that’s one of two big reasons why we fans are so pissed about the lockout. We’re the ones who buy their products. We’re the ones who spend every nickel and dime on their concession stands and tickets to watch the game we love.

Now I can go through all the proposals, but I don’t want to bother. Why? In reality, discarding all the fancy financial talk, it’s about the sport itself. What’s more important than just playing hockey? Since when was finance an issue in sports? Don’t they get paid much more than the average American alone in this still-struggling economy? Why can’t they fix this just as quick as the NFL solved their referee lockout situation? This is the main reason for us to get pissed off. When this lockout happened, I was just sad. We all wanted and hoped for our hockey to start on time. However, time again and again, the League and Players Association have shown their drastic differences; and the League showing its arrogance.

Update: The League has proposed a 50/50 deal, but it seems like the NHLPA still hasn’t budged yet. Hopefully they’re getting closer to a deal…

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