NEW YORK (
) -- I support New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's decision to ban super-sized sugary drinks.
Bloomberg's move actually has something to do with the NHL lockout, at least on a theoretical level.
Sometimes government needs to save people from themselves. Often we're too stupid, too lazy, too driven by emotion or lack the willpower to make the "right" (that's a loaded word!) or "best" choice for ourselves and those around us.
I spent Thanksgiving weekend in Phoenix. It's hardly a hockey town, but several people called me out for the Toronto Maple Leafs cap I wore.
The valet guy shouted "Darryl Sittler" (a classic old-time Leaf) when he saw my hat. Turns out the guy is an Edmonton Oilers fan. We lamented the lockout every time we saw one another over the weekend.
I had several hockey conversations with people in Phoenix.
of all places. I'm not going to say the city is emotionally devastated, but the lockout is affecting people. Often in very real ways.
The local news did a story on a sports bar that misses out on between $18,000 and $25,000 in revenue each night a scheduled Phoenix Coyotes game doesn't take place. The City of Glendale loses roughly $60,000 in tax revenue per game. It can't quite quantify the overall impact on its economy.
Remember. This is Arizona. "Nobody cares about hockey in Phoenix." Relative to most other NHL cities, I guess that's true, but it doesn't mean people aren't getting hurt in Phoenix just as they are in Toronto, Winnipeg, Buffalo and Boston.
We could go city by city numerating the losses. I could get all emotional on you and rip NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and a handful of big market owners for single-handedly destroying a sport, screwing with Canada's pride and passion and depriving cities and businesses from across North America of much-needed revenue.
But that sort of talk just feeds the fire.
This NHL labor dispute had to happen. Yes, it should have been dealt with pre-emptively. Anybody who even casually observes hockey saw the lockout coming. But, it wasn't headed off. So here we are. I don't care who's right or wrong. I don't even care about how or when they solve this thing.
Fans, sports bar owners, mascots, cotton candy vendors, play-by-play announcers, the dudes who charge market rate for parking spots outside the arena -- none of us should have to deal with any of this.
We all contribute to something bigger than the sum of the game's parts. Players and owners drive this thing. But, without us,
they got nothin'
. If they bring the game back tomorrow and nobody watches -- live or on television -- that sports bar owner still looses his money and the concession workers will end up jobless.
It sounds so cliche, so idealistic, but it's the truth. Fans and other "little" and even "not-so-little" guys (like the hockey announcer who makes six figures or even millions a year) get screwed in sports labor fights. And it just shouldn't be.
Sports should be our one protected outlet from society's perpetual and pervasive insanity. It's bad enough that government hasn't made education a sacred cow; so, please, don't mess with sports!
If you're lucky enough to have season tickets, get a job with a team or run a business that depends on sports, labor issues should never affect you.
Teams win and lose. They pick up and move to different cities. Fan interest waxes and wanes. That's part of the bargain. Governments and teams fight for those interests as they come up. But not getting paid because of labor strife -- or even not receiving your daily dose of enjoyment -- should never enter the equation.
Because pockets of the U.S. economy get hit hard and larger swaths of the Canadian economy get hit harder, President Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper should come together, wield their big sticks and set a new precedent for sports.
Labor disputes can happen of course, but we should never hear about them. Government should step in with an edict -- no matter what, the games will go on. It's in the local, regional, national and international best interest!
In hockey, I guarantee you this: The players would be 100% on board with that. And so would most owners, save a handful of big market guys who hold the current season hostage.
There would be plenty of incentive to get a deal done because player salaries and team revenues that do not get paid out to the little and not-so-little guys go into a fund. The cash sits deferred until the two parties strike a collective bargaining agreement that details how it will be divvied up.
There's no good reason not to do this because, after all, it's sports. It means absolutely nothing and everything to us all at the same time.
You can't sell me on a reason why fans, the little guys and not-so-little guys have to go through this. We deal with enough crap everyday. What means livelihood to one guy means unbridled enjoyment to the next -- a lockout should not jeopardize or put either on hold.
Rocco Pendola is
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