The National Hockey League is back. Or, rather it will be, sometime around January 15th. Are we supposed to be impressed by this?
We shouldn't. Millionaires arguing with other millionaires over how a multi-billion dollar pie should be split. Isn't it a bit absurd that such a thing should matter to the fans who foot that bill?
This is not to single out hockey. It is a situation which every major sport faces from time to time, and equally absurd in the other prime sporting arenas. The fact is that sports and games have become too important to us, and the sports people know this. They know they can play the fans because they know the fans will come back. They would rather see NHL players stalking each other on the ice while they cheer in their blood lust.
It would be nice to talk about integrity here, but there really isn't any. Last minute deals such as the new labor agreement (doesn't it seem somehow an insult to real laborers that such sporting agreements are seen as involving labor?) in the NHL reek of self serving needs. They have to get a season in somehow and someway or they might lose their money. That isn't integrity. That's selfishness. There would be greater integrity in continuing the strike. The parties involved could then at least pretend that it was all about principle.
To be sure, a return to play will help the local businesses which rely on big sports to keep themselves afloat. That is perhaps the biggest reason for happiness over the NHL's return. That is perhaps the biggest reason for having huge and pricey sports leagues and teams, that they help the general economy. Yet none of that really matters to the sports magnates and their stables of players. If it did, there would not have been a strike to begin with.
Ah well. Let the games begin. Maybe a few fans will actively protest and not support the product, but that ain't likely. Bone jarring checks mean more than principle, more than the personal embarrassment of admitting that you've been gamed. The sports leaders know you better than you know yourself. The National Hockey League's return to play will demonstrate that.