During the lockout, there were a numbers of groups that popped up around the idea that fans should somehow boycott the NHL. The belief was, that if you spoke with your wallet, the NHL and NHLPA would hear you, and the lockout would be solved. Groups like "Just Drop It," the NHLFA, and any number of other fan boycott groups popped up. These were all great ideas, save for one problem...
The NHL doesn't care.
Let me say that one more time, just to reinforce that for you. The NHL does not care about you. At all. You are not the casual sports fan that makes or breaks sports teams. If you are reading this site, they already know they have you. If you are so passionate about the NHL that you will set up a boycott, they know you'll be back. Might not be right away, but you will be. You know you will.
You see, boycotts are siege warfare, and I haven't seen very many trebuchets around downtown St. Paul. The secret to winning a siege is that you have to be willing to wait out the other guy, and hope that they don't have the supplies to outlast you, and your open supply lines.
Guess what? These are millionaires and billionaires. They can last longer than everyone who reads this site put together and still come out and empty your wallet while it rests on your dead boycotting body.
Harsh? Absolutely. True? Absolutely.
The only ones you are going to hurt by not attending an NHL game is the people who get paid by the hour who suffered right along side you (likely more than you) during the lockout. The players aren't going to know you aren't there, and the owners really don't give a crap if you are or not.
You can call all you want for free NHL Center Ice, it isn't going to happen. Want lower ticket prices? Check out your local National Lacrosse League team. Want a free hot dog and a ice cold Coke to wash it down? Enter a contest at your local grocery store, because it isn't going to happen in an NHL building.
Some even suggested going to games, but not cheering. Just sitting there, doing nothing. Which, for Wild fans, is the norm. For the rest of you, that would be like spending $100 on a steak and then feeding it to the dog. Sure, you think you are sending a message, but in the end, you still spend your cash, and you didn't even get to enjoy it. This is truly one of the dumbest protests I have ever come across.
You want the NHL to win you back? They already have, you just haven't admitted it to yourself, yet. You can be as bitter as you want, but you won't give up the game. And they know it. Judging by traffic numbers here yesterday and today, they're right.
Final secret? There is absolutely nothing wrong with you. You love NHL hockey. There is nothing to be ashamed of, and nothing you should feel you need to fix. Feel lucky to have a passion for something, regardless of how stupid the power players may behave.
Now, if you really feel the need to boycott, and have convinced yourself you matter to someone inside the league, there are a few ways you can "boycott" without actually boycotting. Feel free to add to the list below.
- Head downtown, pull up a chair at your favorite sports bar and watch the game. Head down to Tom Reid's, The Liffey, Cossetta's, Burger Moe's, or any of the other fine establishments just blocks from the Xcel Energy Center. Pay $3 a beer (rather than $9), have some excellent food (rather than a generic, bland hot dog), and cheer with your fellow hockey fans.
- Listen to the game on the radio. You see, if you watch on TV, you are helping their ratings (well, if you are part of the tracking, anyway). Radio isn't tracked for ratings. No one will ever know you listened to the game.
- Follow along on a game thread on your favorite website, rather the watching the game. Might I suggest you join us?
- Wear a sweater you already own. You love your sweater, I love mine. Wear it with pride. Just don't buy a new one.
- Make fun of Oilers fans. Because, you know, why the hell not?
- Write a strongly worded letter to the NHL, expressing your distaste for the way the situation was handled. Then, save yourself the postage, shred it, and write yourself a form letter response saying how hard you are going to work to win you back.
- Anyone else have any plans to boycott? Or boycott without boycotting?