Difficult to care about sports work stoppages

  • NHL hockey is being postponed by another sports work stoppage, but with the NBA season under way, is anybody even noticing?

    NHL hockey is being postponed by another sports work stoppage, but with the NBA season under way, is anybody even noticing? Associated Press

Updated 10/30/2012 7:22 PM

Say what?

The NHL season hasn't started yet?


You kidding?

Seriously, if you haven't noticed that the NHL is locked in a lockout you'll notice even less now that the NBA is beginning.

This latest NHL work stoppage makes Commissioner Gary Bettman look like a one-armed comedian who saws off his other arm in a pathetic plea for yuks.

The real joke this week is that no NHL negotiations are conducted because Superstorm Sandy shut down the league office. What, were there weather crises last week, the months before and all summer?

The NHL is laughable, but nobody is laughing. You know the line, "How can I miss you if you never go away?" Heck, we can't even miss this league when it does go away.

At least I can't. Not in autumn with the Bears, Bulls, college football and college basketball under way.

Maybe it'll be different in the spring when the Blackhawks should be competing for a Stanley Cup.

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But not now.

Sure, however many hard-core hockey fans there are in the United States might find it difficult to live without the NHL. Suggestion: Get another life.

Sure, the work stoppage is a major hardship for real people dependent on the league for a livelihood. No smart-aleck suggestion here because that's serious stuff.

Still, in the wider global scope all this is like an ice chip on the North Pole.

So far the world hasn't melted without the NHL. The United Center's roof didn't collapse. Players aren't beating each other up in streets instead of arenas.

Here is a proposed order of concerns over stoppages, labor or otherwise:

1. Teachers strikes anywhere; 2. Shutdown of a movie theater because of the conversion to digital; 3. Any saloon shuttered because of the economy; 4. My laptop having to reboot every 15 minutes.


Left out were work stoppages like the Cubs' 2012 season, but you get the point: This NHL mess doesn't make the list because it generally is about as important to mankind as a napkin is to a pig.

Hockey fans shouldn't take that opinion personally because all sports labor disputes are stupid. During my 34 years at this newspaper there have been maybe 34,000 stupid strikes and lockouts in sports.

Some were dumber than others, like the ones that cost major-league baseball the 1994 World Series and the NHL the 2004-05 season.

(Yes, yawn, this already is hockey's second such labor-management brouhaha, yawn-yawn, during this century, yawn-yawn-yawn.)

My favorite work stoppage -- if there can be a favorite -- was the NFL's in 1987 when Bears coach Mike Ditka filled the entertainment vacuum with a series of amusingly goofy rants and raves.

My least favorite -- though all were -- was the NFL's replacement of regular game officials earlier this season.

Really, though, none mattered as much as a strike or a lockout of sanitation workers or a disruption of any other essential service.

At least sports work stoppages serve the purpose of reminding everyone from owners to players to us that these are merely fun and games we enjoy rather than food and air we require.

A labor fight last year dwindled the NBA season from 82 games to 66. Did even basketball fans miss those lost 16 regular-season sleepwalks?

So wake me when the NHL lockout ends and remind me that there was one.

If it happens Wednesday night you can find me in the United Center watching the Bulls' season opener.


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