Labor is getting crushed these days. Minimum wage is too low almost everywhere. Union membership is down. Anti-union legislation has been passed in many states. Scott Walker's recall victory hurt everyone in the western world, not just Americans. After walker's win, here in Canada, we were treated to a wave of op-eds along the lines of "We need Scott Walker here"
I'm a huge proponent of unions. But just because a group has the word "union" attached to their name, does not mean that we should automatically support them.
Hockey players collect 57% of league revenue. NBA players take 50%, baseball players take 45% and NFL players take 47%. Because hockey is a smaller market than the other major sports, the overhead costs as a percentage of total revenue is also much higher. It's proportionally a lot more expensive to operate an NHL franchise.
Many NHL franchises are teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. The Phoenix Coyotes have been bankrupt for 3 years. Atlanta lost their franchise for financial reasons last year. There are at least 5 or 6 teams in serious danger of going under.
In the past 6 years, the average NHL salary has increased from $1.6 million to $2.4 million, a 50% increase. In case you think that the people on the bottom are getting screwed, the minimum NHL salary is $525,000.
Let's not forget that the NHL players union is represented by one Donald Fehr: the man who single-handedly ruined baseball. (I'm a very bitter Expos fan).
I'm not saying that the owners are blameless in this, but the NHL players had a terrific deal prior to the lockout even though they fought against it tooth and nail.
There are plenty of labor unions that are under attack right now. Let's save our support, energy and political capital for people who actually need our help.
10:14 PM PT: Wow- that's a lot of negative reaction. I appreciate the feedback and a lot of you made good points. I was responding to what I thought was a one-sided article on the main page. I think there is a legitimate debate as to whether sports unions really represent unions well. People use the word "union" in a very negative way when these labor disputes happen and I think that hurts our cause. That whole business with the NFL decertifying doesn't help us. Please don't attack my motives. We can disagree and still be on the same side.