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Size’Em Up Sunday: NHL vs NFL Lockouts

Professional sports leagues are a business and, in any business, challenges arise. There are many inner workings that must function together to achieve success, and due to the amount of components, it can be difficult to keep all parties satisfied. Both the NHL and the NFL have experienced lockouts. How do their negotiations compare? Let’s size’em up…

NHL Lockout History

  •  2004-05 the league canceled the 88th season and the Stanley Cup was not awarded for the first time since 1919. The lockout lasted 310 days.
  • 1994-95 lockout lasted for 104 days and shortened the regular season by 48 games.
  • Side Notes: The NHLPA was founded in 1967. NHL issues were mostly consumed with salary cap issues and effects of struggling profits.

NFL Lockout History

  • 1982 NFL strike lasted 57 days was a dispute over percentage gross revenue the league gave to players.
  • 1987 had a short, 24 day player strike. The film, Replacements, was loosely based on these events.
  • March 12, 2011 began the latest round of failed negotiations between players and owners.
  • Side Notes: NFLPA was founded in 1956. The NFL, unlike the NHL, have “mo’ money, mo’ problems.”

A lockout in any league is a fail. It is a hit to the sport and their fans. So really no one ‘wins’ this Size’Em Up Sunday edition. However, there is a better worst-case-scenario.

While the NHL struggles to decide what to do with a $9 billion revenue, hockey continues to be less profitable behind more popular sports like football, baseball, and basketball. I wonder how NFL perspectives would change if they had to walk in the NHL’s skates for a season? Hockey gains points in my book for juggling similar disputes as football but with the increased pressure of marketability. Football will forever have its fans and new ones climbing on the bandwagon everyday. Unfortunately, hockey does not see the same surplus of fanatics.

Hockey has its share of owner/player disputes and hopefully a lockout is not in the near future, because being bottom of the barrel has a greater impact on the sport. Some argue the NHL is still recovering from the 2004-05 lockout. In this case, football gets points for invulnerability.

Opinions of NHL benefiting from the NFL and NBA lockouts are optimistic. Folks are hopeful basketball and football fans will be desperate for some sports action. So surely they will turn to hockey, right? Teams may gain a few new fans and sponsors, but it will not be enough to make a significant impact. I love hockey. I do not like professional football. If puck play goes MIA for the 2012-13 season, I will not watch football. I will watch endless hours of the Hurricanes on YouTube.

Lockouts hit the NHL with a greater impact, and they will not particularly gain from the NFL lockout. Hockey struggles to improve profits while NFL doesn’t know what to do with their impressive revenues. So it appears the NFL is the better worst-case-scenario.

Not so fast! I couldn’t possibly end my hockey blog on that depressing note. The NHL comes out on top DESPITE the problems stacked against them. Red Wings fan rival Red Skin fans. Puck fanatics watch over 80 games with dedication and cry for more during a relatively short offseason. If a hockey team in southern NASCAR country can be ranked the fourth easiest NHL team to support (The Business Journals), the sport has great hope. Hope trumps invulnerability.

Tags: Carolina Hurricanes Lockout NBA NFL NHL

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