The Runaround

After the dominant win by the New England Patriots in Sunday’s AFC Championship game, loyal readers might think that I would write a lengthy tribute to the Patriots given that I like them more than all but five other things in life.

I, however, am not as predictable as I seem.

Certainly, the Patriots are a subject that needs mentioning, however, I can’t be responsible for identifying the pulse of our nation week in and week out. If that were the case, I should also be writing about steroid abuse, the Australian Open, poverty, global warming and my girlfriend — but not this week.

No, this week I have chosen to tackle a topic that has silently slipped under the radar for far too long: the National Hockey League (NHL) lockout.

Why has this issue gone largely unnoticed? There are a couple of reasons.

The first is that hockey is not very popular.

The second is that people do not miss it.

The third is that no one in The Falcon has written about it, meaning that it obviously must not be that big of a deal.

Well, it is now.

To bring you up to speed, the NHL owners have locked out the players, causing the cancellation of more than half of the season. If no resolution is reached soon, the entire season and possibly part of the next may be in jeopardy.

Since the two sides cannot come to a conclusion on how to fix this problem, I figured that I might as well throw my two cents into the discussion. Granted, I have only been following hockey for a few years and cannot skate to save my life, so take what I have to say with a grain of salt.

First and foremost, hockey needs to make the sport fun. And the only way to make something fun is to give away free stuff. Baseball has worked this ploy to perfection, taking a boring game involving hitting things with sticks and running around and turning it into America’s pastime.

But what product could make the NHL — the ugly stepchild of American sports — enjoyable? Here’s a list of things: free iPods, free snow cones, free concessions, free T-shirts, free cash, free haircuts, free checking, free tickets.

In fact, maybe the NHL should just go ahead and adopt each and every one of those ideas; it would be a surefire way to put people in the seats. Impractical? That’s what the King and Queen of Spain said to Columbus. Too spendy? That’s what politicians said to President Bush about the Iraqi war. Just plain not a good idea? That’s what my sixth grade teacher told me about my science project on magnets.

Point is, this may be the only idea that will work, and the NHL would be wise to take me up on my suggestion.

Making the game fun, however, is not the only answer to hockey’s problems. For the NHL to succeed, it also needs to be relevant. Let’s face it, on the SPU campus, there are two things that people talk about: the ratio of girls to guys and Josh Dougherty. Hockey fits nowhere into the discussion.

Part of the reason hockey has yet to return can be blamed in part on its never being missed. To change that, the sport needs a voice, a way of explaining how beautiful the game truly is. Maybe if some influential columnist were to discuss the virtues of the NHL in a column, there could be reform.

Sadly, Matt Bollinger and Matt Weltner chose instead to write about how girls are evil.

I have several more ideas for fixing hockey, ranging from bigger nets to flaming pucks, but were the game not fun and relevant, these ideas would be pointless.

Take my advice, NHL. Get your league fixed. And get it fixed soon.

I want to write about the Patriots again.

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Title: The Runaround | Author: Kevan Lee | Section: Sports | Published Date: 2005-01-26 | Internal ID: 4302