Lots of good stuff has been written about how the players are losing because of their relative salary drop (in most cases, sorry Ovi but it’s true). People also think the owners are losing because their trophy asset isn’t in action. Of course the folks who work for these franchises, selling concessions, working security at the games, etc., lose bigtime because that’s a huge source of their annual revenue. But there’s another loser in this lockout that hasn’t been so documented: young fans, the foundation upon which our great game is built.
Put a good product on the ice and people will watch. In most markets a winner translates into kids being passionate about the sport, which translates to a whole new generation of fans and players. The future of our game is in these younger kids. Don’t believe me? Take a quick look at baseball, where the younger generations have let it go and you get empty stadiums league-wide. These budding hockey fans haven’t had the seasoning us older fans have, they haven’t been through the ebbs and flows of winning and losing seasons. Moreover, they can’t see the newer generation of players skate and stickhandle their way through the opposition. When I was a kid we all tucked our jerseys in on one side (like Gretzky), graduated from Titan to Easton sticks (like Gretzky), and held our ground behind the net in The Office (like Gretzky). Seeing our heroes on the ice regularly was so unbelievable that we couldn’t help but emulate them every chance we got. The young fans are being robbed of this right now.
I found that during the last lockout, I became WAY more into NFL football. If I was a 7/10 on the fan scale I moved to a 9/10. I’m not saying that hockey is in danger of being replaced by football for me, but it’s possible that for other fans it’s the case. For these younger fans that have never really known hockey, the possibility of hockey being their favorite sport is heading down the tubes.
So what am I doing? I’m resorting to youtube for old highlights and showing them old games on the computer. Mrs. Boomer and I did this exact thing last night with our sons. We threw on an old Sharks game from the 1994 playoffs, put Stompin’ Tom Connors singing The Good Old Hockey Game on repeat and let it go. You know what happened? The Junior Boomers were ENTHRALLED with it. They were cheering for every goal, ooohing and aaahing with every hit. It was fantastic. But here’s the thing: they’re so young they don’t realize the difference, but I do. I’m lying to them and I’m lying to myself. Please, hockey, come back soon.
Greatest things about the lockout
Want to debate a list? Tweet me @bluelineboomer