Back in October, President Obama stopped by the Jay Leno show and shared his thoughts about the NHL lockout. His basic message was “you guys make money because you’ve got a whole bunch of fans” and “y’all should be able to figure this out.” Now, almost fifty more days into the lockout, it’s evident that his message was not received. On Thursday, a Minnesota reporter asked the President if he would be willing to intervene in the lockout, to which he replied:
“You know, look. I’ve got to say, because we’ve had an NBA lockout, we’ve had an NFL lockout during the course of my presidency, the president of the United States shouldn’t have to get involved in a sports lockout. My message to owners and to players is, you guys make a lot of money and you make a lot of money on the backs of fans, so do right by your fans. You can figure out how to spread out a bunch of revenue that you’re bringing in, but do right by the people who support you. And I shouldn’t have to be involved in a dispute between really wealthy players and even wealthier owners. They should be able to settle this themselves. And remember who it is that’s putting all that money in their pockets.”
Amen, Mr. President.
In the last seven years, the NHL’s fan base has grown to its highest number. Do they really expect the casual fans to stick around after all of these shenanigans? Most of these fans have completely forgotten about hockey by now. Last year’s playoffs did something incredible for the league—people from all over, whether they were hockey fans or not, were drawn in to watch the underdogs rise to the top and win their first championship in franchise history. Everybody loves a good story when it comes to a sports team, and the L.A. Kings’ incredible run was just that. People felt compelled to tune in and see what all of the hype was about, and for many, it was the first time in their lives that they had actually watched a hockey game. It’s so unfortunate that this new level of exposure for the sport had to be counteracted by a lockout. Now people have forgotten about how much fun they had watching the playoffs and how awesome the sport really is.
And then there are the diehard fans, who have suffered through the frustration of so many lockouts that they are ready to give up on the sport completely. If they wipe out the entire season, the NHL is at risk of losing countless numbers of fans. President Obama was dead on. If their biggest concern is how much money is overflowing out of their bank accounts, then they should start doing right by the fans, because without them, they’ll have nothing.