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Another Sports Work Stoppage Means Fans Need to Take a Stand

Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Millionaires versus Billionaires; how many times do sports fans have to witness this? Once again, another professional sports league is in the middle of a work stoppage. This time it’s the league with the worst labor record of any of the major professional sports leagues, the NHL.

To the fans, it doesn’t matter what the reasons are. It makes no difference if the overpaid players are complaining that ownership is exploiting them, or if the multi-billionaire owners are all crying poverty. The end result is the same for the fans…disappointment and anger.

What these selfish and completely out of touch people don’t seem to either realize, or care about, is that their so-called suffering is miniscule when compared the the effect their actions have on communities, local economies, and loyal fans.

Because a group of owners is upset that they’ll only make $10 million instead of $20 million each, (because I’m not buying that any of these shrewd chaps are losing money), they feel it’s within their rights to just bring a complete halt to business, and to dig their heels in the ground until they get what they want.

They consider how this will affect the players, and how by locking them out will break the spirit of their union. But, do they consider the communities they are supposed to not only represent, but to provide jobs, commerce and service to by the city and league agreeing to let them own a team? It seems unlikely they do.

It’s highly improbable that they care about the vendors, ticket salespeople, ushers, parking lot attendants, store owners, front office personnel, bus drivers, cab drivers, public transportation employees, waiters/waitresses, bartenders, journalists, broadcasters….(ok, you get the point)…who’s very livelihood – not profit margin – depend on these teams playing games.

It’s doubtful they truly consider the effect that losing even a few months of a season can have on the local economy, particularly smaller markets, where these teams reside. Tax revenue from every conceivable source is drastically reduced without a complete season of games.

Selfishness and narcissism at its utmost highest.

Although the NHL has a terrible track record in resolving labor disputes, they are by no means the only offender. There have been strikes and/or lockouts in all four of the major professional leagues. Most recently the NBA and NFL both had lockouts that erased at least parts of a season. MLB players decided to strike in the middle of the 1994 season, wiping out the remainder of that season and the World Series.

It’s time for fans to gather up the remnants of their self-respect, take a stand, and once and for all show both the owners and the players who’s really in control. These self-absorbed entertainers and their puppeteers need to realize that without the fans and their money, all of them are out of work.

This is the fourth work stoppage for the NHL in the last 20 years, yet somehow the league always manages to bounce back. Why? Because fans can be so easily swayed by a “heartfelt” television commercial and a slick advertising campaign telling them how sorry the league, it’s players, and it’s owners are.

Don’t buy it folks. They aren’t sorry. Not in the least.

The only thing they are sorry about is that their six-figure and higher paychecks were either lessened or halted for a brief time. Forgive me if I don’t shed any crocodile tears for them.

If you are a fan – not just of the NHL, but of any sport – you need to use your power and your money wisely. You can be the poison pill that makes them think twice before any work stoppage, strike or lockout, is considered again.

Save your money. Don’t buy the tickets, the jerseys, the shoes, the t-shirts. Refrain from the purchase of the licensed merchandise with the league and teams name plastered all over it. Send the message that you are fed up, and that you’ll be supporting either college sports or other leagues with your hard-earned money.

These guys are no different than a pop music band or the traveling troupe of a Broadway show. If fans don’t come out to see them and buy their merchandise, they can’t continue. They are entertainers, plain and simple, and it’s time that the fans reminded them of that fact and stopped paying for a show that the curtain doesn’t rise on.

Here’s a message to Gary Bettman, Bud Selig, Roger Goodell, and David Stern:

Millionaires versus billionaires can be toppled by the common man, because the common man is the one paying the way for both of them.

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Michael Collins is a Rant Sports NFL Network Manager, and Atlanta sports columnist. Follow him @GaSportsCraze on Twitter