by Ryan Isley
Let me start by saying that this is not an endorsement piece for President Barack Obama to win a second term in office, as I am not the person to try swaying people to vote one way or another (we have enough commercials and robocalls for that).
One thing we know about President Obama is his love for sports. We have seen him at Chicago White Sox games and we have seen the segment on ESPN every year during March Madness where the President fills out his bracket for the tournament. Love of sports is nothing new for the person who sits in the chair in the oval office, as George W. Bush had a love for baseball and Bill Clinton was an avid fan of the Arkansas Razorbacks.
In fact it is one of the things I like the most about any person who holds the office of the President of the United States – their ability to be a normal human being and American while having the responsibilities of the office. While people were complaining about President Obama doing a bracket because he should have more important things to do, I applauded him for it.
That’s why when the President was a guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno last Wednesday and was asked about the NHL lockout, I was curious to hear his answer. Leno took questions from Facebook and audience member to ask President Obama and one of the questions asked if the President could pull some strings and end the current NHL lockout, the third major work stoppage in professional sports in the last 18 months.
While not wanting to get involved directly in the negotiations, the President did offer that he had a thought on the subject:
“Every time these things happen, I just want to remind the owners and the players you guys make money because you’ve got a whole bunch of fans out there who are working really hard. They buy tickets, they’re watching on tv. You all should be able to figure this out. Get this done.”
It is very similar to the stance that President Obama took when asked what he would do to end the NFL lockout prior to last season:
“We’ve got owners, most of whom are worth close to $1 billion; you’ve got players who are making millions of dollars. My working assumption at a time when people are having to cut back, compromise, and worry about making the mortgage and, you know, paying for their kids’ college education, is that the two parties should be able to work it out without the president of the United States intervening. I’m a big football fan, but I also think that for an industry that’s making $9 billion a year in revenue, they can figure out how to divide it up in a sensible way. And be true to their fans, who are the ones who, obviously, allow for all the money that they’re making.”
It amazes me that the President of the United States can see this simple thing – that the fans are the ones who are really losing when these leagues have work stoppages – but the owners and players in the sports seem to forget that fact.
It doesn’t matter who is at fault. It didn’t matter with the NBA, it didn’t matter with the NFL and it didn’t matter with the NFL officials. And now it doesn’t matter with the NHL. All that matters to fans is that there are games to go to, games to watch and games to talk about.
The NHL has now canceled all games through the end of November as the latest lockout continues to drag on with no end in the foreseeable future. This comes after a postseason that might have been one of the best in years and had fans all fired up for the upcoming season.
But just like their brethren in the NFL and NBA, the NHL has ignored the most important thing in their league – the fans. They think the fans will just come back no matter what once the lockout is solved, like fans in the NFL and NBA seemed to do and because the league had record attendance following the work stoppage in 2005.
But the league needs to realize that having four work stoppages in 20 years is not a way to keep their fans or to get new fans interested in the game. There are plenty of other options for sports fans while the NHL players and owners bicker back and forth and don’t make any progress. While the NHL isn’t playing, fans can watch the NFL, NBA, college football and college basketball, with games on every night in one of the four sports.
It’s time for the owners and players to sit down and hammer out an agreement so that they can get back to the ice as soon as possible. As President Barack Obama said – “You all should be able to figure this out. Get this done.”
I am Ryan Isley and I approve this message.
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