NHL: Wasting Their Money, Your Time

Pub near Vancouver
I am sure you have read plenty of reaction to the latest news out of the National Hockey League whether it be on twitter or other sites across the interwebs.  In case you missed it, the NHL employed Republican party strategist, Frank Luntz, and paid people $100 for three hours of their time to talk about how they feel about the lockout.  In two days, this process culminated with 30 people, mostly white men, answering simplistic questions then being victims of a classic case of forced rhetoric and euphemisms.  If you want more details on the focus group, take a look at this detailed report.
After the jump, we take a look at the findings, how the NHL could have derived their answers, and a clear cut bottom line.

So the fans want the hockey they deserve huh?  Does this come as a surprise to anyone at all?  I think that has been the fan story for over a year now as most people might not have admitted it, but they knew a work stoppage was always more probable than starting on time.  Believe what you want to believe and side with whichever side you want, but the lines of communication and teamwork have never really been a strong point for the NHL and its players.  There is a clear delineation.

The NHL says operating costs have gone up with jet fuels costs, need for better medical assistance, and better technology.  Have any idea how much they spent on the use of Luntz Global, a company that has worked with Frito Lay, General Motors, political figures, and MGM to name a few, especially since the group was assembled in a hurry?  I bet the same final result could have been determined by doing any number of the following much more cost effective tasks:

  • Checking the @ replies on twitter to the NHL account and any number of its affiliated accounts, including the official twitter sites of its teams.
  • Riding a city bus/subway in any one of the club markets and randomly starting a conversation about hockey.
  • Using something called Google to get a sense of what people are writing/thinking.
  • Take a look at the television listings on any given weeknight and realize that there product would be superior to what else is being offered.
Of course this is spin, the employment of rhetoric to change the public opinion.  Most pivotal moments in American history have had kings and queens of rhetoric.  Perhaps, the most visible use of rhetoric was during the women's suffrage movement when skilled orators like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott used their words and their actions to change the world. That was rhetoric for the good though.  It involved action as well.

No, I am not comparing this to women's suffrage.  I am saying any spin being used in this battle right now is pointless.  Spin and rhetoric rarely have the same importance anymore.  The players have been employing their own spin showing guys at local rinks helping the youth teams, etc.  There are many people lost in all of this: the people that work the concession stands, the businesses close to all of the venues, the people of the southern hockey cities that are dying to show how much they care about the sport, etc.  So here is what the players and the owners could be doing instead of worrying about spin:
  • Understand what civil discourse really means and not be blinded by that green paper or bank statements.  Does either side know the answer to why?
  • Civil discourse is engagement in discourse (conversation) intended to enhance understanding. 
  • Ride the Momentum. Do you know that the NHL was set to overtake the NBA in revenue and is now losing a ton of money each day? Yes a ton of money is the exact amount because I'm pretty sure it's a lot more than I will ever see and the amount stated by the NHLPA or the owners is probably not the right amount. When will things be good enough? 
  • Use common sense 
There are negotiations tomorrow and right now they are set up to be another waste of time and money. Are you seriously expecting any news worth refreshing your twitter feed over? Are you expecting a season at all? I'm not. At this rate I assume that a deal may be reached some time in April of 2013 and the teams will all work their respective spins saying how grateful they are to have such loyal fan bases and the support we have shown is what makes hockey fans the best fans in the world, ignoring all the negative feedback over the last however many months.

Sure there is a naivety associated with this post. I want safe playing conditions. I understand shared revenue and trying to enhance the product. All of that is a different post.

So what's the bottom line? You're damn right we want our hockey back. I understand I am simply a fan of the game and I am writing on a blog. Opinions on those two things aside, I do not side with the owners, nor the players. I side with my friends that love to hear that unique noise of a puck sliding up the half boards and rattling across the glass. I agree with those that want to debate the worth of a team's choice for a goal song. I am grateful that people invest their time and spirit into the NHL and chose to host a team in my favorite city or sign on the dotted line to play in the sweater or a team I cheer or jeer.

Hockey is my favorite sport and I'm afraid I'll never get back what I knew. Well that is my rhetoric anyway.


    Ozman51 said...

    Its a good post Doug. I however live by a fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me mentality. I won't be fooled twice. I have walked away from the NHL (not the sport of hockey). I won't be there to be told how grateful the league is for their loyal fans when they reach the tipping point where the greed is trumped by the amount of money they have lost. My loyalty is gone because their loyalty to me was tossed aside first. You know me and I was a diehard NHL hockey fan. Those days are gone. The last lockout I viewed as necessary in order to restructure and save the league. This is a cash grab and I want no further part of the nonsense that is the NHL.

    Instead of hanging by the phone as I did in 04', I have pivoted to other things far less likely to jerk my chain.

    Post a Comment

    Facebook Twitter Delicious Digg Favorites More Stumbleupon