Why an online petition is a pretty terrible idea for ending the NHL lockout

Meet Becky

She's the crying girl at the start of the video. Her name may or may not actually be Becky, but she seems like a Becky. Becky likes hockey and she has a big-time sad because she wants to watch the NHL this season, but the start of the hockey season is probably going to be pushed back because of a lockout, which starts at midnight on Saturday when the current collective bargaining agreement ends.

If you're any kind of NHL fan, Becky probably lives on the right side of your Facebook page, where ads live (it's nice to think that Becky and the girl in the "Meet Asian Singles!" ad hang out). Clicking on Becky's Facebook ad leads to a petition with this video, a montage of awesome NHL stuff (high point: Braden Holtby's mom. Braden Holtby's mom is always the high point of everything), aimed at getting you to sign the petition on the page. The petition reads as follows: 

Dear Gary Bettman and the NHL owners,

I just signed the following petition, 

In less than two weeks you have said that you are going to lockout the players unless there is a new agreement. You still have not learned that the fans matter more than anything.

There is no good reason why the season should not start on time, with or without a new agreement. 

Do not lockout the players! Promise that you will start the pre-season (sic) and regular season on time. 


[Your name]

It's a thirsty move. It's desperate. But, people are desperate for hockey. So far, almost 25,000 people have signed it. That's about a full Verizon Center (go Caps) and about 7,000 in change.

There is one part highlighted for the sake of this article--You still have not learned that the fans matter more than anything.

Wrong. Money matters more than anything, at least pertaining to the two parties involved. 

In this most recent year, the players received 57 percent of the league revenues compared to 43 percent for the owners. That  will probably have to flip-flop before the first puck drops this season. 

Also, to keep wages down, huge alterations to free agency have been proposed, including: players must be in the league for 10 seasons before they are eligible for free agency; contracts limited to five years; no more salary arbitration; and a two-year bump in entry contracts from three years to five.

Players won't get a fair shake at their market value until they're 10 years deep in the league.

That said, these proposals came in the opening offer from the league. This is Gary Bettman, commissioner of the NHL, putting on his big boy pants and wishing the players would come back with anything but a much lesser deal than their current one. Bettman holds all the chips and he knows it.

The players should stand firm and strap on their big boy pants too. This is their livelihood on the line. They're the ones with the extremely specialized skill sets that turn mostly useless not too long after 40. And if we fans follow along with the argument in the petition that we're the most important thing, aren't the players equally guilty for denying hockey from us, the most important party?

The fans are the least important group. After both lockouts, the fans came back. The fans are the least important factor in the equation. The fans are the constant. 

Maybe the problem is Bettman. Having a third lockout on his hands ought to be a third strike and the fans could apply the appropriate torture (freeze him in Carbonite like Han Solo and put him beneath the ice in Phoenix because desert hockey rules). He's the easiest person to get mad at.

Hence the letter.

Hence Becky.

Don't be a Becky.

Don't sign the petition. 

Sure, there will be nights during the lockout when the only thing you'll want to do is turn on the TV and see hockey, in all its glory.

But livelihoods are on the line. Be patient, don't be thirsty. The right deal will come--now, a month from now, a year from now--and it'll be back, with a collective bargaining agreement that assures the health of the sport down the line.


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George Prax's picture

I think I'm siding with the players in this by default because they're millionaires, and the owners are billionaires, but the truth is that pretty much every proposal the owners have made is reasonable from my perspective. Problem is there's a double standard. Despite making those demands, teams still sign players to exorbitant amounts and then expect those same contracts to be rolled back. And it's not like those cap "savings" are going to be passed on back to the fans, ticket and beer prices aren't going to get any lower. I'm happy there's a lockout, to be honest, both sides need to suffer. And I don't feel entitled enough to sign a petition. Sure it sucks and sure they make their money off me, but so the hell what? At this point the only people I feel bad for are those who make an ancillary living on the league like bar and merch store owners.