The NHL lockout is the sports equivalent of the fiscal cliff.
You start with a problem created by long-running incompetence by those charged with solving the problem. You waste a lot of time doing absolutely nothing to solve the problem, instead spewing rhetoric and grandstanding for your own constituency. Then you set an arbitrary deadline to create a false sense of urgency. And finally you celebrate what amounts to a big bag of nothing.
Sorry, hockey boys, you are on your own.
While y'all were away, I have been busy watching the Seahawks develop into the real deal. I have been watching this Dwight Howard-Lakers meltdown unfold. I have been busy watching incredibly too much playoff football, including the Washington Redskins selfishly allowing/encouraging injured quarterback Robert Griffin III to play on a medically compromised knee. I have ND-'Bama plans, as well as a calendar packed with more NFL games.
Most of America already felt this way, but you have evoked this malaise in your own core constituency. Losing half of this season so soon after skipping an entire season in useless labor negotiations has led to fan fatigue and rhetoric spewed by Gary "John Boehner" Bettman or Donald "Nancy Pelosi" Fehr. It has done absolutely zero to change most feelings.
Bettman long has argued that the NHL has a spending problem. The league was paying too much for its players, was not getting a big enough cut of revenue and had to cut back or its franchises would be in peril of going under. Fehr talked of making the wealthy owners pay a bigger share, of taking care of the workers, of raising the NHL's debt ceiling.
This went on and on for what seemed like forever. Both sides entrenched and were unwilling to tackle the real problem. In Washington, this is spending more than is brought in. The only solution is difficult fiscal decisions about spending and taxation to bring about a bottom line that is not only balanced but begins paying off our debt. In hockey, this is about recognizing that it is no longer part of "The Big Four" -- not in TV revenue, TV ratings, fan interest -- and the league no longer can operate as such. This is, of course, a result of the sides' own folly, a folly they compounded with this latest work stoppage.
Hockey fans have what politicos like to call voter fatigue. There are only so many crises, so many cliffs, so many averted disasters we can hear about before we just stop caring. Want to know why only 50 percent of America votes? Because most people do not think their voice makes a difference.
I have come to feel this way as an NHL fan.
I am sick of their bickering, their inability to solve their real problems, their absolute lack of touch with anybody outside their bubble. This league has relied on the rabidity of its diehard fans for far too long, taking for granted that we will continue to pack buildings and watch the Stanley Cup after yet another work stoppage. They actually are trying to sell this idea that they "saved" the season, much like the "pols" are trying to sell that they saved us from the fiscal cliff.
How dumb do they think we are?
You cannot "save" yourself from yourself. There is no valor is fixing what you broke. This is what you are supposed to do, clean up your mess. There is also an understanding you will learn from your mistakes and stop making them. And there is nothing from the fiscal cliff fiasco or the NHL lockout mess to suggest this has happened.
Gary "Boehner" Bettman and Donald "Pelosi" Fehr were busy afterward selling victory, or how they did the best they could, given the intractable jerkholes' opposition. We have come to expect this kind of obstructionist approach to so many things in life that it no longer seems weird or sits wrong with us. It should.
We no longer are willing to compromise to reach what is in the best interest of the whole, a sad truth belied by both this fiscal cliff and NHL lockout.
There were winners and losers declared, and I will leave that for somebody else to determine. What I know for sure is the greater good of the country was not a winner in the fiscal cliff deal and the greater good of the game was not one in the lockout. Both were given lip service, if not just simply ignored altogether.
As Thomas Jefferson, among others, once remarked: "In a democracy, people get the government they deserve." And if the founding fathers could have envisioned guys on skates with sticks trying to score goals, Jefferson probably would have said hockey fans are getting exactly the sport we deserve as well.