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One of the best articles I've read in awhile


habsfannova

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In many ways I agree with him.

At what point did entertaining the masses become secondary to breaking even/turning a profit.

The owners whine about losing money, and I agree that having your bottom line reduced by a couple million dollars per season isn't fun... but you aren't losing money. You're paying for entertainment... the entertainment that can bind a city together like has happened in Calgary. There are some owners who can't afford this loss, but there are many who can afford to take a few million dollars worth of hits over a period. To them I say 'thanks'.

Everyone always says "hockey's a business". Why does it have to be? Why can't it just be a bunch of grown men acting like kids on a pond, and getting paid for it? I say, restrict salaries to a pay scale determined by performance that's the same for every NHL player, and let's eliminate the negotiations, the greed, and contracts that have poisoned such a beautiful game. Also, a hard salary cap combined with such a pay scale would result in the distribution of talent, provide more cost-certainty, and provide motivation for players to excel every year, not just in years prior to free agency.

There is a way to fix hockey. However to find this fix, I believe owners and players need to start thinking beyond $X millions, take a step back, and realize that the ability to play the game and to watch the best players in the game is a privilege. As a kid growing up, almost every kid says they'd play for free if given a chance in the NHL. That's where we need to start negotiating from.

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What I find odd is the players have a union--but can negotiate individual salaries..

Sort of a contradiction, so I have actually proprsed what SyPhi is saying (or similar)

SO you're a first line centre with 7 years in the league, and you've scored over 30 goals in 4 of them--this is your salary...

Then each player is also able to collect bonuses--based on both team & individual accomplishments---

That's how the Union where I work operates with management--and it gives me a fair compensation for what I give to the company--

I'm all for the NHL trying it--so past performance is rewarded, experience is rewarded, and improvement is and current accomplishments are also rewarded...

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1) At what point did entertaining the masses become secondary to breaking even/turning a profit?

2) Everyone always says "hockey's a business". Why does it have to be? Why can't it just be a bunch of grown men acting like kids on a pond, and getting paid for it?

3) As a kid growing up, almost every kid says they'd play for free if given a chance in the NHL. That's where we need to start negotiating from.

Answers to some of life's biggest questions (well, at least the lives of sports fans)...

1) You'll have to talk to some scholars of ancient history to confirm this, but I'm fairly certain that the minute an ancient Roman businessman lit upon the idea of setting human being against human being (or Christian against lion) in an enclosed arena, then charging the unwashed masses a coin or two for the privilege of witnessing the bloodshed, the notion of turning a profit while entertaining the masses was born. Entertaining the masses as a means of turning a profit is an ancient tradition my friends. It's a capitalistic endeavor. Nobody goes into business solely to lose money... unless they're running a scam or looking for a tax write-off. In the case of the former, the businessman isn't really losing money... he's making it up somewhere. In the case of the latter, a businessman is only willing to swallow so big a loss before his capitalistic nature wants to turn a profit.

2) Because there's a big difference between "kids on a pond" and "grown up men". "Kids on a pond" have the roof over their heads, the clothes on their backs, the food in their bellies and all of their other wants and needs addressed my the finances of "Daddy and Mommy". On the other hand, "grown up men" have to purchase their own luxury condominiums and McMansions in the suburbs. "Grown up men" have to buy their own high-performance automobiles and latest high-tech gadgets. "Grown up men" never lose their child-like desire to possess more and more... they just have to provide it for themselves. Which requires money. So, in an effort to generate the cash flow to provide themselves with all that they desire, "grown up men" - both those who play the sports and those who own the teams - figure out a way to squeeze as much money as they can out of the system.

3) See #2. The "grown up men" who are participating in professional sports aren't "kids" anymore... at least not physically, or in terms of their desires, or in terms of their having to provide financially for themselves in order to fulfill those desires. So anything they might have said when they were "kids" can be discounted upon their reaching adulthood. You want to start negotiating from the point where "kids" say that they'll play pro sports for free? Well, then get ready for pro sports leagues stocked with 6, 7, 8 and 9-year-olds. The level of play ought to be fantastic, huh? Oh, and before you start thinking that such a drastic move would provide the answers to all of pro sports' money-generated problems, keep in mind that you'd then have to deal with the "grown up" parents of the players... who would be only to glad to financially gouge you. Or haven't you followed recent develops like the final years of LeBron James' "amateur" career?

Bottom line: Unfortunately, greed is a part of human nature. A rather unsavory part that has worked its way into the very fabric of modern entertainment... pro sports included. As long as some members of society are willing to pay through the nose to be entertained, there are going to be entertainers - including athletes - who will be all to happy to take the money and run. Pleasant? No. Reality? Yes. Until we, as a society, are willing to turn our backs on subsidizing the enormous greed of professional entertainers - including pro sports owners and athletes - this is the system we're stuck with. And "turning our backs" doesn't mean simply bitching about the problem. we've got to be willing to stop attending the games, stop watching the games on television or listening to them on radio, stop buying the souvenirs... in short, stop subsidizing professional sports to such an extent that the owners and players get the message that their "cash cow" industry is on its last legs. As in, threatened with extinction. Unfortunately, people keep shelling out the money... if not the individual patron, then the networks who count on people watching the broadcasts. So... the beat goes on.

Brian in Boston

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