The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Monday, September 22, 2003

FINALLY, A DISSENTING VOICE
cash-poor for over 80 years now
It's hard to get prepped for the upcoming National Hockey League season without hearing ad naseum about how all hell is going to supposedly break loose due to the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expiring. The owners sure want to keep the doomsday scenario front-and-center, with their recent claim that their teams lost a combined $300 million last season.

As much as I love dealing with the business side of the sports world, I think it's more than a little silly to worry about something that's going to happen after this coming season ends. Has the looming CBA expiration already affected rosters? Sure. Is it going to affect how teams are run and, by extension, play this season? Sure. Is there any point in focusing on it to such a degree? No. Especially since it's been drawing excessive attention since last year.

Beyond that, as always, I'm tired of the owners' word being taken as gospel on stuff like this. It never fails to amaze me how the media and the fans automatically side with ownership, as if we should feel sorry for billionaires who are crying poverty. That's what makes me glad to, for once, find someone, in this case the New York Post's Larry Brooks, question how it is that that NHL owners are losing so much cash, and what their motives are for squawking about it so insistently.

It's pretty obvious that I'm--to put it kindly--skeptical of sports owners' claims of money problems. I've read enough history of major sports leagues to know that the "We're broke" cry has been invoked year after year, from teams that have been operating for decades. If you take the owners at their word, some of their teams have been bleeding cash since the 1920s (and earlier). And yet, every year they keep on chuggin'. What also keeps on chuggin' is the arena, concession, parking and dozen of other revenue streams that the owners pocket, none of which they'd have an opportunity to get if not for their ownership of a pro sports franchise. So forgive me for not swallowing whole the stories that regularly come out of the front office.