Another day, another example of the despicably greedy excesses of professional sport, this time in North America. I quote from our Eurosport News bulletin on Monday:
“The new season of the NHL is under threat after a lockout was imposed by league commissioner Gary Bettman on Sunday. The lockout came into effect when a seven-year collective bargaining agreement expired. It comes after owners and players were unable to strike a deal on how to divide 3.3 billion dollars in revenue.”
You are kidding me. A bunch of supposedly grown-up men who apparently love ice hockey are going to risk the start of a new season because they cannot come to an agreement on how to divvy up….3.3 BILLION dollars.
Let’s just say that again: they cannot come to an agreement on how to divvy up….3.3 BILLION dollars.
…just in case you didn’t get it, that is 3.3 BILLION dollars.
The clubs want more of the cake than they had before to offset rising costs while the players are hoping to hang on to what they had before – around 57 per cent, presumably the extra is the cream on top.
Of course, the players don’t really risk very much at all. As with the NBA lockout last year, the door is open for players to sign for European clubs as long as the strike lasts. They still get to play and get paid.
Both sides in the dispute want the support of the fans, the mugs who do actually love the game enough to spend their genuinely hard-earned money on paying for a ticket, a burger, a soda and a whole bunch of team crap, I mean memorabilia.
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is one of several high-profile players who pleaded their case in a video aimed at the fans published on the internet.
“As players, we understand that the people that suffer the most are the fans,” Crosby said.
“Like any partnership, you want both sides to benefit, and I think that’s the case here. As players we want to play, but we also know what’s right and what’s fair.”
Right and fair in this case is how many noughts you stick on your mega-million-dollar paypacket.
The club owners are just as bad, grasping for every penny, not to improve the game for the benefit of the fans or of young players or kids, but to boost their own bottom line. It is capitalism eating itself alive.
The ones who will really miss out are, of course, not the high earners but the thousands of staff who earn an honest living in and around the clubs like those who work in restaurants and bars near the stadiums. Many stand to lose their jobs so that players and administrators can park an extra Porsche in the garage.
It is particularly nauseous given the fact that there are many people living in the United States – not to mention other starvation-struck areas of the globe – who do have a case for earning a few nickels more, for whom it is genuinely a matter of life and death.
“A Census Bureau report released Wednesday (Sept 12, 2012) provides a mixed picture of the economic well-being of U.S. households for 2011, when the unemployment rate improved to 8.9 per cent from 9.6 per cent in the previous year,” said an Associated Press report, quoted in the Huffington Post last week.
“The overall poverty rate stood at 15 per cent, statistically unchanged from the 15.1 per cent in the previous year. The rate was better than a consensus estimate of demographers who had predicted, based on weak wage growth, a gain of up to half a percentage point, to levels not seen since 1965.
“For last year, the official poverty line was an annual income of $23,021 for a family of four.
“By total numbers, roughly 46.2 million people remained below the poverty line, unchanged from 2010. That figure was the highest in more than half a century when records were kept. The 15 per cent poverty rate was basically unchanged from 1993 and was the highest since 1983.”
So let’s get this straight. While 46.2 million people in the US alone scramble to get bread on the table, the worthies on all sides of the NHL lockout are pulling each other’s hair in a bid to grab even more of that 3.3 billion dollar cake.
Get a grip on reality guys, please. Try looking at the bigger picture. You don’t deserve any sympathy from sports fans anywhere. Greed has become your master.