There are two words every sports fan hates: lockout and strike. Unfortunately, these are two words every sports fan has been hearing all too often as of late.
Most recently, the National Hockey League (NHL) has gone into labor disputes. According to ESPN.com, the NHL has already cancelled the first two weeks of the season, clearing 82 games off the schedule that would have begun on Oct. 11.
Another lockout in the news earlier this year was the NFL referee lockout, probably one of the most talked about of the last year.
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The labor disputes between the NFL and its referees caused a ridiculous amount of uproar between fans, players and coaches alike over the first four weeks of the NFL season. Everyone heard some type of complaint about the replacement referees.
The lockout of the NFL referees goes to show that well a league cannot proceed without its players, a league can also not proceed without its (real) officials. Thankfully, that lockout ended.
Lockouts have been a part of professional sports since the mid-1960s. Since then, every one of the four major sports leagues (NHL, MLB, NFL and NBA) has had multiple lockouts.
The last MLB lockout occurred in 1994 and 1995, according to the ESPN Uncyclopedia. An article on ESPN.com said that the 1995 World Series was cancelled for the first time in 90 years.
ESPN.com said that attendance plummeted 20 percent the following year. Attendance peaked in 1994 before strike. Since 1994, Major League Baseball attendance has still not returned to the height of its popularity. We call that the ripple effect, my friends.
The last NFL play stoppage was in 1987, according to an article in the Huffington Post. ESPN.com labeled the 1987 season as one of the darkest moments in NFL history.
One of the interesting things about this particular lockout is how the owners struck back at the players taking to the picket lines.
Owners searched high and low for any glimpse of football talent and put together a handful of misfit teams including replacement players. ESPN.com said that by mid-October of the 1987 season, the real NFL players were crossing the picket lines and rejoining their teams on the field.
Since then, players and owners have figured out a way to compromise their contracts without compromising the game itself.
The last NBA lockout was last year. Possibly one of the most upsetting things to see as a fan of the NBA, almost half the season was lost.
To be honest, I didn’t even waste my time watching the other half simply because of my disappointment with both sides.
According to an article in the New York Times, the dispute came to an end midway through November of 2011. Games resumed on Christmas but many fans had already been lost.
The article on the New York Times said the lockout ended after the owners decreased player salaries by 300 million dolloars.
The schedule had to be adjusted to fit the time left in the NBA season. The 2011 schedule had 66 games, 16 less than a typical National Basketball Association season.
The NHL lockout of this year is beginning to look a lot like that terribly depressing NBA lockout of last year, according to BleacherReport.com
NHL officials said they are far from an agreement with players. Many NHL players have signed on with teams in foreign leagues so they can at least play hockey during the lockout.
The NHL has had its fair share of issues. According to the ESPN Uncyclopedia, this is the NHL’s fourth lockout.
The first occurred in 1992 but no games were missed. The second occurred in 1994 and 468 games were missed.
The third was in 2004. This was the worst NHL lockout to date; NHL teams missed a combined 2,460 games due to salary disputes.
The current lockout has already cleared the first two weeks of the NHL schedule.
The National Hockey League’s Player Association, led by executive director, Donald Fehr, blames ownership for the current state of the league. Fehr said in a story on BleacherReport.com, “If the owners truly cared about the game and the fans, they would lift the lockout and allow the season to begin on time while negotiations continue. A lockout should be the last resort in bargaining, not the strategy of first resort.”
According to writer Nicholas Goss from BleacherReport.com, “given the fact that the owners are the ones who made the decision to enter a lockout even though the players were willing to open the 2012-13 season on time under the previous CBA, it’s easier for the fans to side with the players this time.”
Personally, I don’t think it really matters who is at fault for the lockouts. These people, these millionaires are arguing over a couple thousand dollars. They get paid to pay the game that they claim to love. But they don’t want to play. I am confused as to how that works.
And the worst part about these lockouts is that as fans, we can’t do a damn thing. Because like hopeless puppies waiting for someone to pet us, we want to watch. We want to see our team’s triumph over our rivals. And we can’t fight the urge to turn on ESPN at the beginning of every day, even though we wallow in self pity throughout the analysts interpretation of when the games will return.
The NHL lockout is looking grim to say the least. It just reached its 26th day and no one seems willing to divulge any information concerning the state of the two sides. It seems like the only people who want to see the game played is the fans. There is something terribly wrong with that.
Michelle Berthiaume can be contacted at email@example.com