VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- So the lockout’s over -- there will be a season. Any and all damage done to public support and perception will, of course, evaporate faster than a Metro Vancouver snowfall. Rest assured, arenas will be full in major markets when the puck drops.
First, and perhaps most importantly, I’m relieved for the thousands of local businesses and seasonal employees who have been adversely affected. I am also relieved for those players who dwell in the league’s salary basement: the sort who don’t have multiyear, multimillion-dollar contracts.
That said, one can’t ignore the fact that all of this is very simply explained when one pushes past all of the convolution: Billionaires went to war with multimillionaires over the sort of money that could quite easily feed a substantial list of impoverished nations. Even more, despite disgruntled attitudes prevalent only a week ago, fans will rush out to purchase merchandise and tickets that many in major markets can now barely afford, and talk around the watercooler will be transformed into predictions of how a season that could possibly resemble four months of playoff hockey will unfold. Beer commercials will begin to appear on television applauding the return of the Canadian pastime as if some national tragedy has been avoided while simultaneously promoting some fantastic national victory. It will all be quite dramatic and provide the perfect subterfuge for our lack of backbone.
One needn’t be Paul Krugman to understand the economics of it all. Without fans in seats at games, and without fans pumping untold amounts of money into merchandise, concessions and a laundry list of other crap from bobbleheads to car flags, revenue decreases. When that happens, those who actually fund the professional game’s existence find themselves realizing that they, and not those who control the league, are the ones with the power. Unfortunately, when it comes to professional sports in this day and age, that’s not a power we’re all that interested in exercising. Were we to, we might be forced to watch something informative that is devoid of fights and concussion-yielding hits.
So go grab a Tim’s, put a dozen Molson Canadian on ice, and smile. All’s right with the world.
Matthew Good is an award-winning Canadian rock musician whose compilation CD "Old Fighters" will be released soon. For more information, go to MatthewGood.org.