Give NHL Fans BS? (We Will Call You On It...)
Posted by bozak911 on Wednesday, September 19, 2012
With the commencement of the 2012-2013 NHL Lockout, both sides of the conflict are attempting to rally the fans to their side. The NHL and Teams have all released letters in an attempt to placate the fans as well as a constant message that we are the "best fans in the world". The NHLPA's PR machine has been in over-drive in their efforts to garner the public sympathy to their side.
As more and more time progresses, I hear more fans being swayed to the owners side than those that are buying the PR of the NHLPA. Every time that Allan Walsh tweets something ridiculous, another fan is lost to the "dark side". What the Players Union doesn't realize, I think, is...
We are NOT the same as Baseball fans.
From Sports Business Daily...
Also, please reference an Experian report where the summary is; "According to Experian Consumer Research, NHL fans tend to have higher mean household income compared to fans of the NBA, MLB, NFL, and MLS. Other characteristics that set NHL fans apart from other sports fans are their age, technology preferences, and online activity. "
Another quote from that research report; "NHL fans are more likely to have graduated college than non-NHL fans."
Simply put, the NHL demographic is more educated than most other sports leagues. (Of course, that educational average would be significantly higher if you removed the Vancouver Canucks fan-base from the equation... :) )
This is not intended to put down the fan bases of other sports. This is to emphasize a point that I believe that Donald Fehr and the NHLPA are both missing. Some clubs have missed it as well, based on the letters they published to their fans.
If you feed your NHL fans a line of BS, we are less likely to buy it than, say, football or baseball fans.
The fan base of the NHL clubs (minus Vancouver) knows the difference between revenue and profit. We can all draw an easy correlation between our "gross" pay and our "net" pay when thinking of the difference between gross revenue and net profits. Some of us may even be accountants or lawyers or other more business savvy individuals that can actually read an annual report from a company and actually understand it. I should correct that; A lot of your fan-base are people would would actively SEEK OUT an annual report, period.
As an educated fan, the last month has given me an over abundance of data points to map and to correlate into a pattern. The simplest way to summarize the general feelings of your more educated fans into objective statements are;
Statement to the Teams and the NHL: Honor the contracts that you signed with the players.
Most of the NHL fans know that when you sign a contract, you live by the contract. We are a connected fan-base and know that we would have to pay through the nose to get out of even the smallest of contracts. I wonder if the owners know that we know (or will easily and readily look up) the various out clauses present in our contracts with companies such as AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, etc. We are educated enough to understand that the two-year agreement we signed? Sticks for two years...
Statement to the Players: You all need a lesson in the realities of business...
Maybe this needs to apply to hockey journalists as well, but the basic principle of how revenues do not equal profits needs to be less tenuously grasped. The NHL grew revenue by record amounts. The NHL did not grow profits by record amounts. Players would not have gainful employment without the owners, willing to take risks with their money. Yes, owners would have not have a club, without the players. This fan understands that symbiotic concept where it seems that neither the NHL/NHLPA even know what symbiosis means.
Then again, both sides also need to understand that even if their fan-base is highly educated, more connected and more well compensated than fans of other leagues...
We really have little empathy towards either the players or the owners when they all drive cars that most of us are only able to read about in Car and Driver.