Once upon a time, I was a geeky fifth grade girl. About that age, everything begins to change such as your friends, bodies and even the school you attend. Thankfully, I was spared the horror of attending a middle or junior high school, as I lived in a small town and our two schools were a kindergarten through sixth grade and a seventh grade through twelfth grade. Having done some substitute teaching in my life in a middle school, I can tell you that plunking fifth through eighth grades in one building is an absolute nightmare for everyone involved. In fifth and sixth grades, the books that every schoolgirl read were those by Judy Blume. The quintessential book was her classic Are You There God? It's Me Margaret.
The main character was a girl named Margaret who not only was at that horrible stage in human development, but her parents also moved her from the hubbub of New York City out to the suburbs. She had to rediscover herself and create a new social circle, neither of which is easy for an adolescent. While she was making new friends, she often felt alone, hence the title of the book. It's not a particularly religious book, and it's been on the American Library Association's list of frequently challenged books (people wanting to ban it) due mostly to its frank discussion of puberty.
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Now, you may be asking, what the heck does a book by Judy Blume have to do with the current NHL lockout. But when you think about it, as a fan, have you not felt ignored by the league and the players' union? I know I have. The amount of money being argued over is something that the vast majority of us can't even comprehend. We the fans, work our jobs, many of us in middle class professions such as education or like myself, in customer service. With the current state of the economy in this country, people aren't ordering as many cardigan sweaters as they did even three years ago when I first started with my company. This holiday season has been extremely slow, and when it's slow many of us find our supervisors telling us to go off the phones. When people aren't ordering, we're not working and therefore not earning money. While the players aren't working, there are people involved with hockey that desperately depend on their money. These are the ushers, the concession workers, the parking ramp attendants, box office staff, and servers at bars and restaurants near arenas. If hockey players aren't working, these "little people" who really need their pay aren't working either. Even worse is the feeling we get from the players that they simply cannot function on less pay. Well you know what Sidney Crosby (or any other big name talking head of the players' association), I'll trade you my household income for your household income. I can guarantee that I could live quite comfortably on your salary and still have plenty of money left over to save for the future. If you haven't bothered to set money aside, that's your problem, not mine. And the owners aren't much better when they come off looking for sympathy either.
I know I'm not the only fan out there to feel ignored by the league and the players. I'm just a humble blogger in a big sea of other bloggers. We've all discussed the problem ad nauseum. Personally, I'm at the point where I'd just prefer that the NHL just cancels the season altogether. It's clear to me that nothing will happen this year except a lot of finger pointing (too bad the competition committee can't create a rule and penalty for that). One group of fans has taken their collective frustration, and is attempting to make a statement. And in the world of professional sports, the only statement is that of the almighty dollar. This group of fans are endorsing a game-boycotted-for-each-game-lost called Just Drop It. Their statement is that for every game canceled after December 21st, these fans will refuse to attend or watch a game on television, nor will they purchase and team merchandise. The point is, the money that is being argued over comes from the fans. Hockey is a gate driven sport, so if we don't show up, it should hurt the league and players in their collective wallets. I wish them well in their endeavors, but I just don't know if enough fans would do it. Living where I do, I am fortunate that I have access to excellent high school and college hockey. I'm not without the sport I love, but there are areas across the league where fans do not have that luxury. These fans have created their own video:
As I mentioned earlier, labor negotiations in one sector always affect other sectors. In large metropolitan areas, when sanitation workers go on strike, it can become a health hazard for the public. In the auto industry, if the plant where a special part is manufactured due to labor issues, it messes up the work that can be done in the actual plant where the cars are assembled. Added to that, there is also a sense of solidarity among the various labor unions. If the United Auto Workers are on strike, members of the Teamsters won't cross a picket line to make deliveries. Because of all of these connections, often politicians have to get involved whether they want to our not. WCCO reporter Frank Vascellaro had the opportunity in a recent interview with United States President Barack Obama about issues that are important to Minnesotans, and one of those things in the state of the NHL lockout. The President says it is not the place of government to get involved in a lockout of a professional sport, but he did say that it is up to the owners and players to " do right by their fans." The President knows that we're the ones who pay a good portion of the money that is being argued over, and that it's unfair to ignore us.
Unfortunately, until we're given a seat at the negotiation table (which will never happen), we will continue to be ignored. And like Margaret in Judy Blume's classic book, we will continue to ask if they can hear us or even know if we're there.