Jeremy Roenick is Right
This weekend, Jeremy Roenick of the Philadelphia Flyers (back when there was such a thing as the Philadelphia Flyers) ripped NHL fans who call players greedy and blame them for the lockout that cancelled the entire 2004-2005 season.
ďWeíre going to try to make it better for everybody, period, end of subject. And if you donít realize that, then donít come,Ē Roenick said, adding, ďwe donít want you at the rink, we donít want you in the stadium, we donít want you to watch hockey." Though the NHL commissioner's office and owners league-wide might have a problem with that last part, I have to say it: he's right.
Fans don't realize the enormous power they have over professional sports. Not to the degree they used to, sure; ticket sales aren't as big a source of revenue for teams as they used to be, with TV deals accounting for much more of a team's income than they did, say, before television was invented. Still, though, if fans stopped coming to games, stopped watching on TV and stopped buying crap with their team's logo on it, even for a few weeks, owners and players would sit up and pay attention real fast.
Roenick is right: if hockey fans wanted to show their dissatisfaction, all they'd have to do was stop showing up. Not forever, not even for a whole season; just for a little bit. After all, how hard could it be? Every NHL fan just went an entire year without attending an NHL game, didn't he?
Ah, but they know we won't ever really do that, we sports fans. They know their product is too good. Sure, maybe a guy like me can live without the NHL or the NBA, but how long do you suppose my vow never, ever, ever to give Major League Baseball another dime after those bastards cancelled the 1994 World Series lasted, huh? Maybe twenty minutes? Is there anything -- anything -- the NFL could do to piss me off so bad that I wouldn't watch anymore?
Heck, even college football -- which, at this point, is daring fans not to take it seriously -- pulled me back in, although it took back-to-back national titles from my alma mater to do it.
Your hardcore hockey fans might talk a good game, but they'll come crawling back as soon as the puck drops. I can't blame them; as I said, I did the same thing with baseball. If fans took Jeremy Roenick's advice and just didn't come, all the crap we complain about in big-time professional sports would get fixed.
But we won't. We can't. The product is too good, too compelling. And they know it, they know they don't have to behave, so they never will.