Here’s the deal…it’s just past 7am on a Saturday and I can’t sleep, and as much as Saturdays are usually supposed to be reserved for sleeping in, I can’t help but lie restless in bed over the flack that people are giving NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. Ok so the truth is I could sleep like a baby no matter what’s happening to Gary but for whatever reason I just can’t keep my eyes shut today, so here we are even though it’s too early on a Saturday to get any real lockout updates. The fact is there just won’t be that many news bits today so I might as well rant about the fact that people are giving the commissioner a rough ride unjustly.
In an earlier article I wrote over the past week, I wrote informed you that if you want to sign a petition to have Bettman fired, the website Change.org has a few options that may quench your pseudo-activist thirst. However there really is no reason to let the man go as he is doing an absolutely great job and (other than his insistence on growing the game of hockey in the southern United States) has handled his business every step of the way. Don’t get my wrong here, I understand this is the man who is partially responsible for three different work stoppages since 1994 (more than any other of the four major sports) but you have to understand that these stoppages are not a result of Bettman, he’s just a messenger.
His job really only involves one key task… to relay the thoughts and feelings of the owners, not the players or the fans. See as much as commissioners are suppose to act as liasons between players and owners, the one thing about that is that Bettman’s paychecks are signed by the NHL Board of Governors, it isn’t as if the player’s union chips in any dough in that regard. This means that you kind of sort of have a conflict of interest because as much as public perception dictates that the Commissioner’s job is to get hockey back on the ice, in reality his job is moreso to do whatever his bosses tell him to do and you know what? He’s doing exactly that!
Now you may sit around and argue that if Gary is not really interested in getting the NHL back on the ice and he can’t really be impartial to both sides of the argument in the lockout because he gets paid by the owners then he shouldn’t really be employed as commissioner, but every other commissioner in pro sports deals with the same dilemma. Besides, think about it in the context of your own career…have you ever had to do things you didn’t want to do just to keep your paycheck coming in and avoid losing what you have worked hard for? I know I’ve been there.
So if you want to be mad at someone and can’t decide which party should get the brunt of your wrath, I recommend going with the owners since they are the ones with the most leverage anytime a professional league isn’t playing its scheduled games. Heck, as long as fans keep going to games as a source of entertainment, the owners even have leverage over us because they know we’ll come back! Unlike most fans and players, owners know what customers want and they know how to market things to people better than anyone else…that’s how they became billionaires and joined an elite group of the richest people in the world.
At the end of the day, we can complain about the lockout as much as we want and sign all the petitions our hearts desire. The fact of the matter is the only leverage we have is to refuse showing up to games, and as much as hockey is not as popular as other sports around the world, there are too many of us fanatics out there who will still show up and part with out money for a good ol’ hockey game.
If you would like to follow more of the sports stuff that I have been doing, you can follow me on twitter @jackchoros.